Consuming as a way of life.
It is the beginning of September 2002, still at the beginning of a new century and nothing marks it more, in London today, than the entrenchment of Consumerism as a way of life. We are living in dangerous times, did we but know it.
Access to an improved way of life, the acquisition of goods, greater choice and variety has grown in this country, since the second world war, from something to be attained and worked for, to consumption as a right. It now dominates our leisure time, and has become a way of life for vast numbers of people.
Modern youth is being raised to consume, they are born into a world where there is no other perspective and it affects every aspect of their lives. But this is not a quiescent or benign trend, it is being driven by powerful forces.
The media, by which I broadly include, television, advertising, newspapers and magazines, street hoardings, even the profligate use of resources that keep modern shopping malls and high streets lit, displaying their wares twenty four hours a day, is the driving force behind this modern phenomena.
Today, it is almost unthinkable not to have a television. By choice I do not have any tele-visual input into my home. No matter where I go, someone is always discussing something that happened on television, and it is remarkable that people are shocked to discover that I do not know what they are talking about and do not own a television. For my part, I hear people discussing East Enders, or Big Brother, as if they have some discrete reality and belong to the same flesh and bone world that I do. Just for the record, they do not. They are tele-visual constructs, they are not real.
Behind the programmes on television, just as behind every news story in papers and magazines, there lies the world of advertising. No one I know likes the adverts, but there they are, every few minutes, pouring into our homes, the epicentres of our lives. Regardless of the items being advertised, there is the message of consumption, remorseless and constant.
There arenít really words to describe how powerful the media is today. It is the dominant driving force and it controls vast wealth and power. Shopping malls are the new cathedrals and consuming is the driven, not chosen, way of life of modern western society.
This is social control on an immeasurable scale, but there is a problem with this, the more consumerism becomes entrenched, the more dissatisfied people are becoming. Social attitudes are becoming more and more intolerant, more and more self focussed. Vandalism, (violence against property) is increasing, theft and violent crime is increasing, social attitudes are deteriorating at an alarming rate, not least on our roads. But for all this greater dissatisfaction and underlying discontent, people are less motivated to do anything about it, direct social action is becoming a thing of the past. Strikes, protests, dissent, are viewed with suspicion and, often, disdain. Modern consumerism is growing alongside a new conservatism, the combination of which is producing social disempowerment on an alarming scale.
Today, in government, is Tony Blairís party, the new conservatives, the lap dogs of multi national forces and the media. From the top down we are living in a new age, and as long as we do not look at it and question what is going on we are in danger from those forces that are daily becoming more deeply entrenched and more powerful.
Only when the last
tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish
been caught will we realise that we cannot eat money.
comment on the environment and materialism.