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Feb. 28th, 2005 | 12:11 am

At the end of the rebel sell an interesting essay proposing a theory why critques of consumer society just generate more consumption, they offered to sell me a book containing the essay.

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Josh

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from: irilyth
date: Feb. 28th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC)
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Part of it is that they don't understand what capitalism is. (I stopped reading shortly after the section I'm about to refer to, so it's possible that they corrected themselves later, but I wasn't sufficiently interested to find out.) Capitalism doesn't require conformity of work, education, sexuality, or consumption; capitalism rewards diversity, innovation, and contrarianism. Being the only person who sees something new and good is richly rewarded in a capitalist society.

That essay seems to be talking about utilitarianism, the idea that economic efficiency (and other sorts of efficiency I suppose) is the ultimate goal of society. That's not capitalism; capitalism is the idea that economic freedom (and corresponding political and social freedom) is the ultimate goal of society. Utilitarians support capitalism if they think that a free economy is the most efficient economy, but the two aren't intrinsically linked.

And "consumerism", whatever that is, is probably a third thing entirely. (And I'm not sure what it is.)

Anyway, I don't know if that actually explains anything, but it didn't make me very interested in reading the essay or buying the book.

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Dilinger

I'm going to do what I want to do, GOSH!

from: dilinger
date: Mar. 2nd, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC)
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Wow my first gut reaction is Idiot! But that is harsh. I dont' know where yoru comming from, and I have not even read the essay so I dont' have much footing to stand on. But I have your comments and I think i'm in a mood such that I will address them.

Being the only person who sees something new and good is richly rewarded in a capitalist society.

This is false, you can see something as new and good and be squashed. One of the main tenets is the market will decided what is new and good and by that definition only those things that stand the test of market will be defined as such. There are plenty of cases where the better product (defined in quality and functionality) loses out to something that gets the job done at a significantly lower price.
2. In order for you to be richely rewarded you have to already have the capital or be able to borrow the capital in order to be richely rewarded. Too many times has a person been first in line, only to be sweept aside by a company with larger resources to do the job ... more ... efficently they say?


Utilitarians support capitalism if they think that a free economy is the most efficient economy, but the two aren't intrinsically linked.

Agreed.

And "consumerism", whatever that is, is probably a third thing entirely. (And I'm not sure what it is.)

http://www.verdant.net/ <-- For a hard core view

I take consumerism to be the buying and selling of too much stuff. I have a friend who does not do dishes. He buys the 500 pack of plastic utensiles and paper plates. Everything goes in the trash. This is good for the economy bad for the enviroment. Things that you buy and dispose of for convience I think belong in the same catagory, but I am sure this could be argued. The website talks about 11% of lumber gets discarded becasue we buy too much and don't use it and it is easier to toss then to return to the store. I think having a TV in each room is part of this consumerism.
So my view isn't exactly like that web page, but i'm sure your view of capitolism is more rosey then others.

I think capitolism encourages consumerism. The point with capitolism is that it has to grow and grow and feed on itself. I believe it would be better to hae a self contained system that can expand and contract with the needs of society. Maybe it doesn't exist and capitolism is the best of all worlds. I hope not.

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Dilinger

Unable to Edit

from: dilinger
date: Mar. 2nd, 2005 03:56 pm (UTC)
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Here is an exerpt from the rebell sell link.

It doesn’t matter how much people spend on these things, what matters is the competitive structure of the consumption. Once too many people get on the bandwagon, it forces the early adopters to get off, in order to preserve their distinction. This is what generates the cycles of obsolescence and waste that we condemn as “consumerism.”

This makes more sense. My friend lives down the hill and drives almost every weekend to his parents house up the hill Approx 75 miles one way) He complains about the cost of gas, but he doesn't get a better milage vehical and he doesn't reduce his trips to once a month. He rarely eats at home, and when he has left overs from eating out, he rarely if every eats his left overs. I think this fits into this consumerism catagory.

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