Shop till you drop, consumer society

consumer society

We live in a consumer society

The capitalist system has also been called the consumer society.

The whole system is based in consuming more and more. Consumption fuels the system. The message is to consume more to produce more, which drives the economy up.

The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness

Money will give you happiness, a luxurious existence, big houses, sports cars, designer clothes, etc. This is the American Dream exported to the rest of the world as the desired existence, the pinnacle of success.

In order to get there you work long hours. Working becomes your life.

Shopping is one of the main activities and the shopping centre is its Mecca. In this cycle of mindless, numbing consumerism we fill our lives with things. We are trying to fill a hole inside ourselves that cannot be filled by buying stuff.

Advertising and marketing really play with our emotions and brainwash us into believing we really need this or that to make us happy and to enhance the quality of our life. Our houses are full to the brim with stuff, so much so that when we fill them up we need to buy a bigger house to fill it with yet more stuff. This is clear when you watch property programs on TV in which people are selling their houses.

Scarcity is at the core of the system

In spite of this abundance of stuff scarcity is at the core of the capitalist system.

The economic market is ruled by supply and demand. When things are scarce, prices go up. When things are abundant prices go down. So in order to have higher profits you need to create scarcity conditions in order to drive prices up. High demand for a product or service in short supply is ideal for maximising profits.

This is an invention, a creation of artificial conditions, not the natural order of things. And as such it can be changed when it no longer suits us. It is not some immutable law.

I have noticed lately a series of products and services in the market using scarcity techniques to sell their products. Ironically they are talking about wealth and how to get wealthy, how to bring more abundance and money into your life. Yet there is this special offer, just for you, with an incredible value of so many free bonuses worth x and y, for a limited time only, sometimes with a timer which marks how little time you have left until you cannot longer avail of this special offer, for a limited number of people and/or limited sessions, whether you need it now or not, you can always buy it now and use it in the future. I noticed it didn’t make me feel particularly well. It forces you to make a decision to buy on the spot and I don’t think I need that kind of extra pressure in my life.

I noticed it didn’t make me feel particularly well. It puts you on the spot for buying something and I don’t think I need that kind of pressure in my life.

You cannot build your future with the garbage from the past.
-Louise Hay

She refers to the negative thinking and self talk of our minds but I think it applies equally to society and how to go about building a future that works for all of us. Do we want scarcity to be part of the next century?

You cannot build a wealthy mindset with scarcity techniques.

The demand is greater than the supply in the workforce

There are not enough jobs to go around for everybody so people are in competition to get a certain job.

One of my aha moments was when I read a few years ago in some book that there is no room in the system for everybody to be employed.

The system does not allow for every single person to have a job.

There is always going to be a pocket of unemployed people.

Profit is king

The aim of the game is to make money, higher and higher profits.

In order to maximise profits the prevalent strategy is to cut costs:

  • By paying employees the minimum possible: cheap labour.
  • By letting go of the manufacturing in industrialised countries and instead to take industries overseas where people (read men, women and children) work for less than a dollar a day in terrible conditions.
  • By saving money at the expense of the planet result in a total disregard for the environment creating pollution and destruction of habitats.

Things don’t last as much as they used to

Do you ever wondered why things do not last as much as they used to?

Things are not built to last anymore. In fact, the opposite is true. They are built to last a certain amount of time after which they stop working. They are programmed to stop working so that we keep buying the same product again and again. This is called planned obsolescence.

There is also perceived obsolescence. This is when we throw away a product still in good condition.

Let’s take the clothing industry as an example. Every year fashion changes ever so slightly in order to keep you buying clothes to fill your closet with clothes that you don’t need, love, really want or fit you properly. You end up thinking there is something wrong with your body, you try to fit your body to the clothes when the opposite is true: the clothes are meant to fit your body.

There is even something called fast fashion, which is cheap, low quality clothes that will be disposed of after a few uses.

There is no planet B

Consumer society

Unfortunately for us, this is an unsustainable way of life. We are destroying the planet at an incredible rate and unprecedented scale. Never before the planet has sustained this level of damage since the last century with the advent of the industrial revolution. If we continue this level of consumption scientists estimate that by 2030 we will need two planets.

Consumption at this rate cannot be implemented at a planetary scale. As more and more countries jump into the bandwagon of the promised land of consumerism it becomes more and more pressure in an already stretched system: the Earth.

We need Earth to support our lives

We are so removed in the West from the sources of food and energy. We go to the supermarket and buy our food, trusting they would supply us with quality food to feed our families. We have lost the ability to grow our own food. We have lost the know-how. We have been removed from our connection to the natural world, which you invariably have when you are born connected to the land.

The reality is that we need food, water and air for our survival. We need soil and the Earth to support us. We are completely dependent on this balance.

Our ancestors used to have all these rituals around harvest time to thank the Earth for the food and support because they knew their life depended on it. Everything has a season. Apples are in season in the summer, not all year around. That makes you appreciate them the next time they come around and it is something to look forward to.

We need to create a different system of values, a different way of doing things. If we believe in abundance and creating equality, we need to ditch scarcity mindsets, including scarcity techniques for selling products and services. And trust that if your product is good enough, if there is a reason for you doing what you do, then the right people will come without having to resort to lack and limitation.




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