Tapping Topic: Consumerism
This week we will be at John Harvard's on Wednesday at 7:00. Rides leave from Connelly at 6:30.
This topic is dedicated to John Veit, who suggested I write it way back in the beginning of the year. Godspeed you, John Veit. Godspeed.
So consumerism, you are a sly one, aren’t you? Are you an ideology? Are you an economic state of affairs? Both perhaps? Possibly more? What is the role of the consumer within your context if you are an ideology? Does the consumer attain some sort of personal fulfillment basking in the glory of your shiny objects? Does a consumer equate the choices he or she makes regarding these shiny things with some abstract philosophical sense of freedom? Does this abstract freedom really manifest itself through the purchase of consumer goods and private property? Does the consumer form an identity based on these objects? Do we like buying shiny things?
Some, however, find ideologies in general to be overblown. That’s okay. So what if you, consumerism, are an economic state of affairs that evolved out of capitalism? Are you the economic cousin of liberal democracy? I hear liberal democracy is a pretty laid back dude, allowing people to have their voices heard through representatives that they’ve voted for directly. So if you were liberal democracy’s cousin, would you allow people to express themselves through the way they spend their money, which would in turn support the economic institutions that they patronize? So then, does this economic state of affairs derive from a narrative concerning the consumer’s personal responsibility to find out if the corporations they support make a shoddy product, or participate in illicit activities?
Maybe then, consumerism, you’re straddling both these definitions. How scandalous! But are you really as naughty as they say you are, consumerism, or are you nice sometimes? Who are you nice to consumerism, and who are you a little bit naughty towards? If you’re an ideology, what is your effect on philosophy, art, culture, and attention spans, and what criteria are we going to use to evaluate you? If you’re an economic state of affairs, are there any other alternatives to your presence, or are you working just fine? If you’re both, does your proliferation as an ideology benefit certain individuals in the economic state of affairs at the expense of others?
The best quote ever:
What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
– The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again)