Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Capital concerns

Gautam Malkani, Financial Times:

Another much-discussed difference was the role of consumerism. In place of the traditionally anti-capitalist stance of previous youth counter-cultures came reports of rioters in low-end fashion retailers, engaged in the new practice of “trying before you loot”. This form of extreme consumerism meant that, by the end of the week, the biggest bogeyman was our culture of rampant materialism and instant gratification. In a consumer society, identities are constructed from owning things. But the widespread sense of self-entitlement revealed by the riots also betrays a broader fetishism of objects. Some of Britain’s urban centres are so atomised that it is now easier to connect with things than with people. Likewise, digitally reduced attention spans have also contributed to a culture of superficial “bling”.

You see, rampant materialism and instant gratification don't normally betray a broader fetishism of objects. If you spend your money on electronics products instead of nutritious foods, that's healthy. If you have new rims but no roof -- no problem! Only you know what is best for you. Treat yourself. You've earned it.

But how to explain the behavior of those whose self-entitlement has eclipsed the most pressing needs of others: the need for profit amongst the profiteers? Capital has its own line of cultural criticism, and it has delivered a verdict: There is something very wrong with society, indeed!

1 comment:

Karl Franz Ochstradt said...

You see, rampant materialism and instant gratification don't normally betray a broader fetishism of objects. If you spend your money on electronics products instead of nutritious foods, that's healthy. If you have new rims but no roof -- no problem! Only you know what is best for you. Treat yourself. You've earned it.

Naomi Klein's been trying to be that succinct for several books now... and failing. You did her a favor!

It's not capitalism that's to blame, but disaster capitalism. It's not consumerism that's to blame, but logos (status) consumerism that's to blame. Capitalism and consumerism are ideal! Only the modern variants are problems!

(thus endeth mine sarcasm)