FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

The Backwardness of Consumerism

Many of the same people that worship free markets and everlasting economic growth also express indignation at the arrival of millions of immigrants.
What they fail to understand is the immigrants are a natural result of their ideology. A system that just grows wealth and tries to speed up the circulation of wealth at any price cares nothing for peoples or their silly customs.

In its calculus, there are just countless individual consumers keeping the machine turning over.  It matters not where the consumers are from or whether they have friends or families unless, of course, it results in them buying more products or changes their commercial preferences.  The primary importance of a baby of course is that it consumes little jars of baby food and lots of cute outfits it soon grows out of.  If the baby’s food was made at home out of cheap basic ingredients and its wardrobe minimized, it would of course hurt the economy.  Someone somewhere would lose a job and upon learning of it, a free market acolyte somewhere else would quietly cry into his pillow at night.  What more heretical thing could such a man imagine than less movement of wealth actually benefiting society?

If banding together with others reduces their market expenditures, breaking them up into atomized individuals stimulates the economy on paper, producing like clockwork the greatest good for the greatest many in the best of all possible societies, happily ever after.

If the growth ever slackens, the collective mood darkens, politicians get voted out of office, and economic pundits look flustered over graphs of acronyms.  This happens every few years or so until a “stimulus” or the “exuberance” of the masses manages to get the gravy train of progress back on track up towards the sky.  That’s the fundamental problem with all schools of the progress religion.  Sound systems are first engineered to withstand the worst conditions, not just to stand up when the going is good.

The medieval European world could operate with some commonsense restrictions on finance, limiting the importance of loans in the economy, a mindset that would be unthinkable now.
A turning point may have been reached in Europe when a feudal military that could lay dormant when not needed was made obsolete by professional standing armies.  This is when the financialization of society really took off with monarchs locked in a competitive race to pay for their wars of economic attrition with each other, which ultimately destroyed their power.

In the real world we see groups with simpler economies based around tribal identities like the Amish, Hutterites, or Orthodox Jews effortlessly thriving while the average citizen of the empire they live in can’t afford a single child after rent and car payments, not to mention, the uncertainty of employment that allows them to sustain what they’ve already got.
You would think their closer participation in the growth economy with all its outstanding “financial products” would put them far ahead of such backwards folk.
It is perhaps the consumerists who live a backwards existence dominated by the caprices of the ticker tape.

The free market types understand very well that trust underpins the value, of money, bonds, pretty much all securities.  Yet they can’t comprehend that if you want people to raise the next generation they must feel secure and trust there is a future.  If you want anyone to care about a society they must feel invested in it somehow.  
When you have a nation of freelance mercenaries, the first storm to come along reveals its fatal structural weakness and sends it crumbling to the ground.

When we understand this basic problem we understand how Obama represented the established system getting one last chance to fix things.  They failed, so from now on, the reaction to consumerist dystopia dominates the discourse.
It is no longer enough to present charts and claim that x line went up by 1% to establish state legitimacy. No one cares. Until people see wealth that is effectively managed in their interests, they will not stop.

A Trumpist populist movement that begins with people who just want jobs and borders might end with people asking “What is the purpose of wealth and production?”
“Are some forms of wealth creation more valuable than others?”
As soon as people begin to face these questions, new frontiers fly open.

At present, the only alternative we can imagine is a disastrous centrally planned economy.  This example is used to brainwash us into submitting to a market machine that churns out things without any plan at all.  What if we considered that free markets are to economies as direct democracies run by mob rule are to governments?
What if we considered guiding society’s use of wealth with a larger vision rather than endless production and consumption for its own sake?

One response to “The Backwardness of Consumerism

  1. UlricKerensky January 22, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    “The free market types understand very well that trust underpins the value, of money, bonds, pretty much all securities. Yet they can’t comprehend that if you want people to raise the next generation they must feel secure and trust there is a future. If you want anyone to care about a society they must feel invested in it somehow.
    When you have a nation of freelance mercenaries, the first storm to come along reveals its fatal structural weakness and sends it crumbling to the ground.”

    A nation of freelance mercenaries has the little problem that you’re reliant on the system to protect your wealth, since you have no surrounding social structure to protect it. And yet, as a freelance mercenary, you’re playing against every other mercenary to generate that wealth in the first place, so you may end up with an entirely rational desire to want to weaken any restraints in the system that prevent you from getting at other people’s accumulated wealth. When so much of the accumulated wealth is in the form of intangibles, it makes for an ever more complex but fragile system.

    You see this in the more poorly run organizations, everyone is too busy looting the place dry to keep the lights on, so decisions become ever more short term, down to absurdities where couriers or senior vice presidents spend more time trying to decide the seating arrangement at meetings than increasing profits. But, it is still rational since having the wrong seating arrangement could cost one the coveted spot at the trough, but losing out on potential profits is a pain that may or may not be felt down the road, and may never even be noticed. It’s a core weakness of management and organization theory.

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