by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption.
We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate.”
Victor Lebow, Journal of Retailing (1955)
And here is where we can see the very philosophy of consumerism and when it was created.
We have been brainwashed since the 1950s – in the USA at least, as the rest of the developed world took a little longer to cotton on – into this very idea of consumerism only because they began to base the economy on obsolescence and the modern version of that is products that can no longer be fixed and that have a factored in lifespan after which they will have to be replaced.
Before that time when Victor Lebow advocated this new approach to making the manufacturers ever richer the economy worked on a different level and you had to bring out really something new and revolutionary to get people to buy it or the things they had really had worn out and could no longer be fixed.
Before this time of brainwashing people to buy into this new idea of an economy everything bar consumables, as one could refer to them, such as foods, soap and the like, were made in such a way that they would last for as long as possible and almost everything could be repaired either by people doing it themselves or by taking it to a repair shop.
And entire economy existed, and in the former East Germany an industry existed, basically, geared to repair, from electrical appliances, over clothes and shoes, to almost everything else. Repair shops for almost anything could be found on every high street, from cobblers being versed in all manner of shoe and boot repair, tailors geared to repair and alteration, electrical repair shops that could fix any appliance, from the wireless and the TV to washing machine and what have you. And then cam the new economy of consumerism and built-in obsolescence and that part of the economy died a death and that predominately because products were being made and still are being made in such a way that they can neither be opened nor repaired.
Basically this entire new economy can be traced back to 1955 and the approach taken by Lebow, et al, in order to turn everything we have had before around and get people to have to buy new every couple of years at least. They had run out of ideas to keep going without this and thus they had to invent a new way of making more and yet more money.
It was also, not long after this, that vacuum cleaner manufacturers made the suction claims as if that would make for better cleaning power. However, that is just what the people began to believe having been indoctrinated to believe just that and that way they could sell one new one after the other. The fact is that most vacuum cleaners today do not even have the cleaning power of the little Hoover of the 1950s. They may be able to lift a bowling ball and thus eat your curtains and lift up your carpet but cleaning power that does not equate to.
Nowadays the sales of products go on bells and whistles even though those new bells and whistles often do not work at all properly and “food” manufacturers make all sorts of health claims appertaining to their products which bear no resemblance to reality. And the same goes for all the claims associated with genetically engineered “foods” being needed to feed the world. It is a sales gimmick at best and something far more sinister at worse, if the book “A Quirk of Destiny” by Catherine Greenall is taken as a warning.
We need a return to sanity on all levels and get back to the way things were before those people decided that consumerism was to be the new religion and brainwashed the people into believing that they can buy themselves happiness.
Consumerism is much like the arms race. It needs things to break in order for the makers to make more profit in the same way as the arms industry needs the arms race and wars to continue to make their huge profits and ever bigger ones. And, as the governments are but protection agencies of the corporations they, the governments, are not about to make any changes as to consumerism nor the arms race.
It is up to us, each one of us, who have to buy this and that to send the corporations a message via the way we spend our cash as to what we want and that we no longer buy into the consumerism message. We have an enormous power in our wallets and if we but make use of it by demanding, via where we spend our money, the kind of products that we want, products that are made ideally in our own countries, made to last and are repairable, and are made ethically. It can be done and will be good for us and the Planet.
It will also create jobs at home in the factories and workshops, if products are, once again made at home, and will rekindle the repair-economy also with the small repair shops we once had.
We can bring about the changes that we want to see if we but make the right points to the corporations, the producers, and spend our money more locally especially, on locally-made products and for local services.
Time to get off the consumerism train and onto the local bus.