imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

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


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org 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

www.indymedia.org 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

Criticism of Consumerism and Criticism of Capitalism

by Chris Methmann Friday, Sep. 12, 2008 at 10:55 AM
mbatko@lycos.com

With the striking climate change, the "western lifestyle" has come into crisis. Our consumption is more environmentally-friendly but we simultaneously consume more and more so the environment is hardly relieved. Necessary social framing conditions are faded out.

CRITICISM OF CONSUMERISM AND CRITICISM OF CAPITALISM

By Chris Methmann

[This article published in: arranca, August 14, 2008, “Die Axt am Pfeiler des Kapitalismus” is translated abridged from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.linksnet.de/de/artikel/23439.]




Many regard anti-consumerism as an ideology that shifts social problems to individuals. Still criticism of consumerism is urgently necessary and can win many with the right themes.

With the striking climate change, the “western lifestyle” has come into crisis. On average, every person in an industrial country emits 2.7 tons of CO2 every year in commodity consumption, another 1.5 tons for food, and 1.3 tons in car driving. Two tons CO2 per capita a year would be “climate-just.” With all legitimate criticism of politics and the economy, a radical criticism of consumerism is imperative.

BETWEEN THE STOOLS

Discussing climate change and consumption is not enough. The business-as-usual faction generally rejects anti-consumerism by referring to higher overriding priorities with the slogan “ecological industrial policy, not renunciation” (Sigmar Gabriel). “Expropriate electricity companies” (attac) and “abolish capitalism (radical left) are also heard. On the other side, worried ecologically-minded persons propagate the complete opposite with individual emission accounts or CO2 credit cards: the personal CO2 economy.

LOHAS – practicing the “lifestyle of health and sustainability” – quietly becomes a popular theme. Bionade is promoted as the “official drink for a better world.” Internet portals celebrate the hybrid SUVs from Lexus. The house built partly out of bamboo is regarded as evidence for the green IT-trend.

In 2007 the German consumer research association concluded under the title “Climate Change Revives Domestic Demand”: Germans are shopping sustainably for the first time out of fear of catastrophe. The dominant discourse sells right consumption offensively as the best measure for protecting the atmosphere. An emancipating anti-consumerism falls between these stools and seems almost helpless. The criticism of some models produces useful building blocks for a progressive anti-consumer discourse that can ultimately become an anti-capitalism discourse.

PRECARIOUSNESS VERSUS SUSTAINABILITY

The term LOHAS originally comes from marketing and refers to the educated high-income strata of “young creatives” with a propensity to sustainable and fairly priced products. This is no accident. The idea that protecting the atmosphere essentially involves different consumption makes high demands regarding incomes and creative possibilities. Its generalization to the whole society is impossible under present conditions of social division and precariousness. Environmental consciousness in Germany has been falling since the 1980s – while social inequality and insecurity have rapidly increased. When existential anxiety grows, attention for ecological problems declines. Spending more money for ecologically friendly products only seems acceptable under conditions of relative social equality. Anti-consumerism only succeeds in a climate of social security.

Social structures are left out in the public debate on consumption, as the example of transportation shows. We all should best leave the car idle. The Aachen foundation even urges an annual individual coal budget with a CO2 credit card on which the amount of every tank fill-up is recorded. Individualization of the problem becomes fatal. Social framing conditions for “right” consumption are faded out. However I can only decide “rightly” when I really have an elective possibility. In many cases, this presupposes a strong public sector, for example free public transit or a democratized power supply.

LESS CONSUMPTION, NOT DIFFERENT CONSUMPTION

In many areas, consuming differently is simply not enough. The CO2 intensity of consumption has declined in nearly all industrial societies since 1990. The amount of CO2 released in producing a unit of gross domestic product has fallen continuously. The hook is that total emissions either increase or decline less than the CO2 intensity.

Our consumption becomes more environmentally friendly but we simultaneously consume more and more so the environment is hardly relieved. This is especially true for consumption that doesn’t serve direct need satisfaction. In 1997 the average lifespan of a personal computer was seven years; today it is two years. In 2007, 33 million new cell phones were sold in Germany. Only renunciation can help. Whether individual products are produced somewhat more sustainably or less electricity is consumed is secondary.

Air transportation is another concrete example on how far the debate over renunciation must go. An air flight to the Caribbean causes approximately four tons of CO2 per passenger. Whoever only makes this trip every two years doesn’t need to screw on any energy savings bulbs at home any more. Technical alternatives in the long term cannot be expected. Compensation payments don’t bring any social solution although they may be individually important. People simply cannot fly so much.

But who decides who may fly and who may not? Forcing renunciation through expensive prices would be unjust and impracticable. The only way fewer flights can be made acceptable would be a democratic debate about who may fly for what purpose and who may not. The example of meat consumption is not as extreme but is similarly clear. Limitation on meat consumption is urgently necessary but is only possible through a social debate. Criticism of consumerism also means the collective and democratic discussion of a conception of the good life for everyone.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT BEYOND CONSUMPTION

Criticism of consumption must mean less consumption altogether, not only different consumption. This insight puts the axe to the basic pillar of globalized capitalism: the growth of the world economy. In this way, criticism of consumerism becomes criticism of capitalism. The economic debate about whether growth is possible without higher resource consumption or whether capitalism without growth is conceivable is not critical. Long before the question becomes relevant whether less consumption is socially imaginable. In capitalist societies, consumption is no longer a means to needs satisfaction. Consumption is a central medium of socialization itself.

In lifestyle capitalism, the style of a person, his or her identity is directly connected with the things consumed, the journalist Robert Misik writes. We buy meaning, not only things. If this is true, the demand of consumption renunciation leaves an identity void. Therefore criticism of consumerism must be complemented with ideas of social acknowledgment beyond consumo ergo sum (“I consume, therefore I am”). Participation in social life, an unconditional basic income or solidarity economies on a small or large scale could be ways to fill the gap arising through consumption renunciation.

The bad news is: we cannot avoid a radical criticism of consumption that includes a debate on renunciation. The good news is: the attempt is rewarding. A radical anti-consumption discourse goes along with leftist demands: a democratic society, social justice and security, a good public infrastructure and ultimately emancipation from capitalist conditions. These are presuppositions for making an anti-capitalist discourse out of an anti-consumerist discourse.



VIDEOS ON CONSUMERISM:

www.storyofstuff.com

(The more you buy, the better person you are, we are told.)

www.worklessparty.org

(“Alarm Clocks Kill Dreams.” Watch the constable ticketing people for rushing through life!)

www.informationclearinghouse.info

(“Century of the Self.” Hear Hitler say: We’re going to destroy democracy, mass unemployment and chaos.)

Report this post as:

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

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

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

Paraphysique de psychosomatique S22 6:58AM

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

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

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

Steer clear of work morality! S09 12:10PM

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

August 2018 Honduras Coup update S06 12:28PM

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

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

Paraphysique de contextualité S05 8:29AM

Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism S03 3:39PM

Ex-voto de réification S03 10:24AM

Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh A31 10:45PM

Paraphysique d'exploitation occultation A31 10:24PM

Ryan Zinke Is Charging Taxpayers For A Trophy Hunters' Council A31 2:10PM

Is the Financial Crash 2.0 Coming? A31 10:07AM

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