The amount of our lives that is taken up by consumption makes it difficult to define a picture of a rational existence.
There are other ways of living. Other than the “That’s just the way it is” root that is to frequently muted. We need to remember that governments and corporations spend literally billions on trying to convince us that what they have to offer is better than what we can do for ourselves. Big business has the same scruples as a drugs dealer. Cheap finance and promises to get you hooked then suck you dry as you get in to deep. And just like a junkie your habit can send you to jail.
“The absurdity of consumption under capitalism is difficult for those of us living inside the system to recognize.
In The Dispossessed (Avon, 1974), science-fiction writer Ursula LeGuin has a character named Shevek who comes to earth from a moon habitat devoid of consumerism to visit a capitalist shopping mall. His reaction is as follows:”
“Saemtenevia Prospect was two miles long, and it was a solid mass of things to buy, things for sale. Coats, dresses, gowns, robes, trousers, breeches, shirts, umbrellas, clothes to wear while sleeping, while swimming, while playing games, while at an afternoon party, while at an evening party, while at a party in the country, while traveling, while at the theater, while riding horses, gardening, receiving guests, boating, dining, hunting-all different, all in hundreds of different cuts, styles, colors, textures, materials. Perfumes, clocks, lamps, statues, cosmetics, candles, pictures, cameras, hassocks, jewels, carpets: toothpicks, calendars, a baby’s teething rattle of platinum with a handle of rock crystal, an electrical machine to sharpen pencils, a wristwatch with diamond numerals, figurines and souvenirs and kickshaws and mementos and gewgaws and bric-a-brac, everything either useless to begin with or ornamented so as to disguise its use; acres of luxuries, acres of excrement. … But to Shevek the strangest thing about the nightmare street was that none of the millions of things for sale were made there. They were only sold there. Where were the workmen, the miners, the weavers, the chemists, the carvers, the dyers, the designers, the machinists …? Out of sight, somewhere else. Behind walls. All the people in all the shops were either buyers or sellers. They had no relation to the things but that of possessions. How was he to know what a goods’ production entailed? How could they expect him to decide if he wanted something? The whole experience was totally bewildering.”
(from p212. Participatory economics)
To much of our lives is becoming like science fiction we are taking for granted. Participatory economics offers some rational to replace the market forces sweeping us along out of control towards what? We need an alternative.