Saturday, August 29, 2009

Consumerism as a Religion

I found this interesting little blurb on Axis of Logic...

Consumerism as a Religion

In the United States, materialism is the religion and shopping malls are the churches - all 46,000 of them. Consumerism is the liturgy and the prayer is the longing for more things. The worshippers earn the money and pay the bills when they come due. Finance capital makes the whole enterprise possible.

As a religion, consumerism teaches the gospel of material value, individual freedom and personal anonymity in our cities and towns. In the countryside, the holy writ teaches us that agrarian traditions, customs and cultural norms are heresy. Everywhere, it discourages intra-familial relationships, social cohesion, support systems and community. It teaches the righteousness of competition with one another and that working together, dependence on others, meeting one another's needs, and sharing our possessions are sins to be overcome. Skeptics are shunned and their heresies condemned. Marketing strategies and advertising techniques are employed to bring unbelievers into the fold - even the little ones.

Marketing Strategies: Consumerism lies at the heart of capitalism, both for its own survival and also as an instrument that targets traditional values in any culture. The capitalist system depends upon an ever expanding market for an increasing number of products in the global corporate empire. It relies on production of new products, no matter how trivial and on sophisticated marketing machinery necessary to penetrate new markets.

The capitalist machine develops methods to sell people what they do not need and often do not really want. An old fashioned maxim in invention, production and sales marketing was once "meet a need, don't create one". Over the years, marketing techniques have been developed to convert "wants" into "must have" and desires into essentials. Cellular telephones serve as an example. Everyone in the family, including children "need" a cellular telephone and if parents object the phone is sold as a security item for keeping contact with the child who may have an emergency. A cheap cell phone gave way to one with a camera and an MP3 player which now gives way to a "Blackberry" with enhanced computer capabilities. A myriad of other products come to mind, burdening family incomes, creating family conflicts and undermining cultural norms and values. If it were not for this power to corrupt, strong non-material values would reverse an expanding market.

There is much more, and it is an interesting read...

No comments: