Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Consumerism is not democracy

In response to the assertion that consumer choice is "democracy in economics"...

Our relationship to corporations as consumers is only one among many. Yes, we can exercise consumer freedom. Is that the same as political liberty? If I lock you in a mansion with every distraction and amusement as your disposal, does your freedom to choose among limitless options make you free? Political freedom implies the power to influence the outcome of end choices. Maybe people would prefer a version of Windows that doesn't suck for 3 years before Microsoft bothers to work out the bugs. That seems reasonable. Not much anyone can do about it since Microsoft is the industry standard, and what people want is irrelevant since they all (by necessity) want Microsoft, at least if they work in most business environments. Or maybe skilled machinists in the 80's would have preferred technology which put more power into their hands during the production process, not undermine it so that their jobs could become the mundane drudgery it is for their unskilled replacements who barely make a livable wage. But that's another type of relationship we have with corporations: as employees. How much of a "vote" do we have in this capacity? None, unless it's imposed by other means. I suggest we not weaken this means.


Sheryl said...

I think the true test of freedom is happiness. Happiness is the best sign that you are getting what you want.

I think it's important to remember that people are often slaves of their idealogy and/or culture and all the baggage that comes with that.

Say that you want to escape the castle with all its luxuaries. Is it because you would want to do so otherwise, or is it because you have been brought up in a society where you were so completely power deprived that you are obsessed with control? Or perhaps you want to leave the castle because you have been brainwashed with a puritan work ethic and think you are worthless unless you are working your ass off for someone else or "accomplishing" something.

I like the saying that goes: "Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice."

Sheryl said...

PS Thanks for the post, Ryan. Always enjoy your comments, and this is a topic I have thought about quite a bit. :)))

Anonymous said...

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