imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

"We Believe, We Are What We Buy": Identity-Shopping

by Benjamin Barber Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Happy Earth Day! That doesn't mean buy a Toyota Prius! Buying a Prius can be a substitute for sparing the environment. While capitalism, consumerism and commerce arenot evil, life is denatured when commerce is everything.


Political Scientist Benjamin Barber on Identity-Shopping

[Consumerism gives us goods we do not need. When the citizen is only the customer, democracy dies. US political scientist Benjamin Barber warns. This interview published in: 4/12/2008 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web. Benjamin Barber, 69, teaches at the University of Maryland and is one of the most influential US political scientists. In 1996 he became well-known in Europe with his book “Jihad against McWorld.” “Consumed” was published in Germany by C.H. Beck.]

Taz: Mr. Barber, what is so bad about consumerism?

Benjamin Barber: Shopping, capitalism and commerce are not terrible. They are only terrible when there is nothing but shopping and we are exposed nonstop to commerce. When commerce penetrates all life worlds day and night, that is debilitating. The commercial side is a part of a pluralist life where we do other things, play, shop, pray, amuse our children, practice sports, make art and love and go for a walk.

…but do we do all this?

No, that is the point! In a thoroughly commercialized society, nearly everything we do is for money and profit. We jog after we buy a pair of trendy gym shoes. We listen to music after we buy an IPod and download music for money. Every activity becomes a commercial activity. This is even true for politics and the churches. Politics only moves with contributions for the candidates. Television preachers are only concerned about money. “Will it sell?” has become the central question in the arts. That is hyper-consumerism.

Doesn’t that have a dangerous influence on our character?

Yes, because we believe we are what we buy. We are what we wear. That is the new identity-shopping. Everything turns on branding. Products are associated with a lifestyle, not with their practical value or their quality. You drive a sport-utility vehicle so you look like a rugged type even if you never leave the city or you drive a gas-saving Toyota Prius with hybrid drive so everyone sees you are a green bobo.

But this also means that people know who they want to be. This identity is then expressed with commodities. The goods help them.

No. You buy healthy food to show you are healthy and thin. You don’t have to live a life that spares the environment. Buying a Toyota Prius is enough. The brand is the substitute for authentic conduct.

In your new book “Consumed,” you write that consumerism makes people childish. Why is that?

People must be made childish to buy things they don’t need. Grown-up persons who are capable of rational decisions must be made headless or panic-stricken children who shout “I want, I want” at the supermarket checkout counter. From our first days, the market trains us for this conduct.

While consumers should act like children, should children also become consumers?

Yes, that is the system. The background for all this is a capitalism that is so successful that most genuine needs of most people in developed countries are satisfied. Thus how can the machine be kept going? Capitalism has real problems if people aren’t made to buy things they don’t need. We stand at the threshold to a recession. What does President Bush say? That people must go to the shopping mall and spend more and more. Even though we have a negative savings rate, people are given several hundred million dollars so they can shop. Whether you need or can afford a house, you must buy it because we must sell it. In the long run, that is a disaster for the character of people.

But if people don’t shop, disaster would occur rather immediately, not only in the long run.

Yes if the whole world looked like Paris or Charlotte burg. But unhappily for the world and happily for capitalism, there are many regions of the world where genuine needs are satisfied. Even in the developed world, there are enough important things to do. The problem is that you have a capitalism that doesn’t want to take any risks. In the past, entrepreneurs were always pioneering with innovative business ideas and developed useful things. When it clicked, they had success. When it didn’t click, they went bankrupt. Nowadays risks are socialized. When a bank goes bust, the government came to the rescue. When Chrysler pursued a foolish strategy, the taxpayer pays.

What useful things could be developed by the capitalist economy today?

We know our dependence on oil is paralyzing – economically, ecologically and politically. Alternative energy is a vital necessity. There are new challenges for architects and the construction industry. Think only of the disaster of New Orleans. There is enough to do with solar energy and healthy water for the third world.

The friends of free enterprise would say there are enough firms investing in these branches. The market should regulate this.

I am not against capitalism. But today’s capitalists want more secure profits and refuse to take risks any more. They don’t want to invest in any difficult market environments. They don’t have enough patience to allow new markets to arise. Furthermore, a balance is needed. Capitalism always needs democratic controls, a mechanism, and a functioning state. After thirty years of deregulation, there is no balance any more.

You write in your book that consumerism endangers democracy. Why?

People tell us freedom has to do with elective possibilities on the market, with the choice the consumer has. But that is not middle class freedom. The important decisions that mark our societies are public democratic decisions, not private consumer decisions, common or shared decisions, not private decisions.

Can you give us an example?

When you go to Los Angeles, you have an incredible freedom of mobility. You can choose between 200 car models; you can buy, rent or lease one. You can buy a car for ,000 or for 0,000. But you can’t choose public transportation. That does not exist. Free decisions which the market cannot replace are most important for a free society.

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
yep ! we knew it ...great article sidestepper Friday, Apr. 25, 2008 at 3:33 PM

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM


lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

Website Upgrade A10 10:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 8:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 6:58PM

Change Links April 2018 A01 6:27PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Chuck Grassley: Women Abusing, Animal Murdering, Illegal War Supporting Criminal S22 2:58AM

Finance Capitalism and the Digital Economy S21 4:45PM

Muselières syndicales, muselières patronales S21 7:19AM

Jeff Bezos, Amazon, The Washington Post, Whole Foods, Etc S21 2:50AM

Why Choose Nut Milk Over Cows' Milk S21 1:01AM

Antrhopocène, le grand effondrement S19 9:53AM

Creative Destruction Hack Diamonds Windows/iOS/Android - Creative Destruction Generator S19 12:51AM

Abolir l'économie S18 11:18AM

The Dictatorship of Corporations S17 5:26PM

18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting S17 3:13PM

Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue S15 6:51AM

Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator S15 3:49AM

Shopping du bashing S14 8:42AM

After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again S13 8:28PM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen S12 9:30PM

Probabilités de fin d'humanité S12 6:49AM

Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW S11 2:57AM

Propagande de virus, virus de propagande S10 7:34AM

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates S08 6:17PM

Paraphysique de l'origami S08 7:11AM

The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally! S06 11:23PM

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

Du réussissement putréfié S06 10:55AM

Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges S06 6:14AM

Log S06 4:25AM

Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts S05 8:29AM

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy