Thursday, June 23, 2016

Two Cheers for Consumerism

One thing the left whines about all the time is consumerism. Their problem is the combination of corporations and advertising and waste. And liberals really don't like the things that people can be persuaded to buy.

Corporations are always trying to convince consumers to buy stuff they don't need, and then, with "planned obsolescence," they design products to wear out so that consumers will be forced to buy them all over again. And what about the blandness of "standardized mass consumption?"

I suppose this is just what Rodney Stark calls "upper-class asceticism." People raised to a middle-class competence are used to abundance, and they are already looking beyond abundance to a more nuanced relationship to "stuff."

These upper-class snobs tend not to understand how gorgeous it is for people living in their first prosperity after the eternal fears of rural indigence and the forced march of learning how to make it in the city: now they can afford to go out and buy stuff. They forget how young Americans loved getting out of the city after World War II and going to live in the quick-and-dirty Levittowns out in the suburbs. With a Ford or a Chevy that might, if you pushed it, have a V8.

The whole phenomenon of consumerism is not that hard to understand. It is almost all about women, and what they want.

First of all, women want pretty clothes that advertise their sexual desirability. Not that women think about what cleavage or tapered legs or dainty ankles mean to men. It's just that they instinctively want to dress so that they are noticed by men. I know a woman in her 80s that still cares about looking good when she goes out. The fact is that women like to ring the changes on their clothes, with different colors, different patterns, different textiles. Corporations and advertisers and taste makers are just giving women what they want.

Then there is cleaning. Once they have a kid on the ground, women get really interested in cleaning. There is no mystery about that; clean helps keep children alive. So women are eager for anything that cleans or makes cleaning easier. No wonder the supermarket shelves groan with cleaning and paper products that are designed to make the cleaning operation easier.

Then there is house and home. Women like houses, and they like them to be pretty and comfortable inside. So corporations and advertisers oblige them with beds and baths and cute little villages about an hour out of town where you can go and shop with a friend and bring home some knick-knacks.

And let's not forget food. The fashions and government mandates on food reflect the profound concern that women feel for the health of their loved ones. So if the government comes out and says that fat is bad, then women believe them and shift their eating habits to non-fat. If the government comes out and says that trans-fatty acids are a problem, women will act on that information. Because food and health are important to them.

If the left sneers at all this, and maintains that the sheeple are the victims of eevil corporations, I say that they are missing the point. And they may even be anti-woman. Because women are interested in clothes and cleaning and house and home and food, and they always will be.

But what about guys? For guys there is Cabela's, "the world's foremost outfitter." Because a man never knows when he may need to go out on an expedition to parts unknown. He never knows when he may need a gun, or a commercial-grade meat grinder, or a smoker, or a commercial-grade deep fryer. And then there are cars, with dials and gadgets and insane amounts of horsepower, but you never know when you may need it. And trucks. And sporting gear.

Then there is the great liberator of the modern age. Power tools. No modern man can or should resist the urge to possess power tools. In fact, most men need a building where they can store and use their vital and important power tools. The advent of inexpensive power washers means that men are now eager to go out ant scour the sidewalk outside their home.

All of this guy stuff is completely unnecessary, but it sure is fun.

Back in the day the left was outraged at capitalism because of the poverty of the working class. Now that the working class is rolling around in excess, they blame capitalism for the excess.

Really, when are we going to retire these whiners and all just go to work and get along?

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