Consumerism

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Consumerism

Postby BadgerJelly on October 15th, 2020, 6:41 am 

Needless to say this broad area of political interest get a lot of negativity.

What aspects of consumerism are stealthily of great benefit to human society at large?

Note: I’m asking about POSITIVES not for a diatribe of all the problems and hates surrounding cpnsumerism.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby TheVat on October 15th, 2020, 10:12 am 

I've compiled a list of positives of consumerism. Here it is:
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Re: Consumerism

Postby BadgerJelly on October 15th, 2020, 11:06 am 

Jokes aside ... I was hoping for something, anything, that I may not have thought of myself.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby TheVat on October 15th, 2020, 11:40 am 

Most people in developed countries can buy tons of shiny gadgets and toys and cheap furniture and then be told it's out of style (or it just falls apart) and throw it away and get some more and they are very stimulated and so happy all the time and never bored and never waste time fixing something which just hurts your fingers and takes time away from consuming amazing streaming shows! And your cat and dog have fun electronic toy that is better than silly old stick and bone and piece of string! I feel very POSITIVE about consuming because today FedEx brings me food blender that plays pop songs and tells me how to make healthy smoothies!!! And consumerism means China and rest of Asia do most of smelly manufacturing stuff so we don't have bad smells and eyes burning all day here in my american happy place!!
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Re: Consumerism

Postby charon on October 15th, 2020, 12:26 pm 

What aspects of consumerism are stealthily of great benefit to human society at large?


Why stealthily?
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Re: Consumerism

Postby BadgerJelly on October 15th, 2020, 12:29 pm 

TheVat » October 15th, 2020, 11:40 pm wrote:Most people in developed countries can buy tons of shiny gadgets and toys and cheap furniture and then be told it's out of style (or it just falls apart) and throw it away and get some more and they are very stimulated and so happy all the time and never bored and never waste time fixing something which just hurts your fingers and takes time away from consuming amazing streaming shows! And your cat and dog have fun electronic toy that is better than silly old stick and bone and piece of string! I feel very POSITIVE about consuming because today FedEx brings me food blender that plays pop songs and tells me how to make healthy smoothies!!! And consumerism means China and rest of Asia do most of smelly manufacturing stuff so we don't have bad smells and eyes burning all day here in my american happy place!!


I stated quite clearly ...

Note: I’m asking about POSITIVES not for a diatribe of all the problems and hates surrounding cpnsumerism
.

Is it too much to ask?
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Re: Consumerism

Postby charon on October 15th, 2020, 12:34 pm 

It's not up to those who produce goods, especially meaningless ones, it's up to us. We can't blame the manufacturers, we have to blame ourselves and why we can't be happy with little. It's not their fault, it's our fault.

If we didn't pursue well-being through 'things' the whole thing would die off.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby charon on October 15th, 2020, 12:39 pm 

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Re: Consumerism

Postby Serpent on October 15th, 2020, 12:40 pm 

I’m asking about POSITIVES not for a diatribe of all the problems and hates surrounding cpnsumerism.
Is it too much to ask?

Not too much, exactly, but perhaps this is not the most appropriate venue. Ask it on Psiforums or Philosophy Now, you'll probably get more enthusiastic responses.

The upside of this manufactured consumer pandemic is a growing economy, thriving stock market, robust commerce, high rate of employment and a healthy financial sector, especially the credit *industry*.

As has been pointed out to me any number of times by knowledgeable choirboys of Capitalism: growth is a universal good. North American and European popular consumerism raised the global standard of living by *creating* jobs and bringing affordable western goods to third world populations. True, some of those countries have corrupt governments that skim off the profit, but they do open up fresh markets, develop modern infrastructure, diversify investment opportunities and provide ready access local resources. If some people fall through the cracks, well that's the price of doing business; however, something always trickles down and, at the end of the day, the high tide floats all boats, so it's a win-win all around.

ETA - having looked at that blog:
How could I forget innovation, technological advancement, competition and social mobility?
Those are all great goods, yea? Are they caused by consumerism? Not so sure. could the good of them come about by alternate means?
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Re: Consumerism

Postby TheVat on October 15th, 2020, 2:08 pm 

BadgerJelly » October 15th, 2020, 9:29 am wrote:
TheVat » October 15th, 2020, 11:40 pm wrote:Most people in developed countries can buy tons of shiny gadgets and toys and cheap furniture and then be told it's out of style (or it just falls apart) and throw it away and get some more and they are very stimulated and so happy all the time and never bored and never waste time fixing something which just hurts your fingers and takes time away from consuming amazing streaming shows! And your cat and dog have fun electronic toy that is better than silly old stick and bone and piece of string! I feel very POSITIVE about consuming because today FedEx brings me food blender that plays pop songs and tells me how to make healthy smoothies!!! And consumerism means China and rest of Asia do most of smelly manufacturing stuff so we don't have bad smells and eyes burning all day here in my american happy place!!


I stated quite clearly ...

Note: I’m asking about POSITIVES not for a diatribe of all the problems and hates surrounding cpnsumerism
.

Is it too much to ask?


Yes. Consumerism is a shit system, based on a shit philosophy, chiefly concerned with piles of shit. Look, I appreciate the intellectual aspiration of a thread on the positives of consumerism, I do. So I tried to state the really shallow positives that I'm aware of. If there are non-shallow positives, I am eager to hear about them. I even tried to think about ironic positives, e.g. millions of people killed over oil and other raw materials for the engines of consumerism, millions more due to predatory capitalism generally, and millionn more deaths to come due to the ecological consequences of all this massive production...which all helped slightly slow the population explosion.

I would guess that your best approach is to say something like Yes, that's bad, but it's all just a growth phase en route to a bright future in which consumerism fixes all its problems and we all can live like kings with kind and gentle machines that serve our every need. Something like that.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby BadgerJelly on October 15th, 2020, 10:15 pm 

For starters ‘consumerism’ can be looked at merely as a means to better inform the buyer - which to me seems like a pretty good philosophy as it would lessen the amount of pointless tat people might buy.

As for ‘consumerism’ viewed purely as a means to make people buy shit for the sake of buying shit it’s a little more tricky to see the positives. One would be that the accelerated need for more efficient advertising would lead to a better/different understanding of human psychology (as someone once said, the Russians invented propaganda and the Americans perfected it in the form of advertising).

In a strange kind of parallel the need for technological advances tends to be pushed more when there is an immediate need - in wartime advances in terms of tech and scientific knowledge have been given more attention. I mention this because in terms of ‘consumerism’ the perpetual struggle in either frame (to push products on people and/or to better inform people about products) will advance certain areas of knowledge - but that, to be fair, is probably more of a repercussion of capitalism and the ‘buy and demand’ mentality.

I would also say that in todays world there is more interest in what people want - not necessarily what they need - and this gives a reasonable degree of power over to the buyer rather than a market of products existing mostly dislocated from human life (as it was in the past). Our actions, and your attitude towards the term ‘consumerism,’ are part of the empowerment of informed human beings.

Probably the most common point made is that ‘consumerism’ drives innovation ... I’m not really sold on that yet, but maybe we’re beginning to see this happen a little as the world begins to move a bit faster. Generally I have seen technological innovation begin and then a few decades later it comes into the public sphere. We may be turning a corner here though as gap between innovation and production seems to be steadily declining.

Primarily I believe the philosophy of having a more informed buyer is extremely beneficial - I doubt anyone would disagree? The problem then is figuring out what ‘an informed buyer’ is and how to ‘best inform buyers’ in term of mutual benefits for the whole world. You do kind of see this artificially seeping into the market place with ‘green goods’ and more attention to ‘carbon footprints’ and such - mostly superficial if I was to talk of this honestly, but it is at least a step in the right direction as far as I am concerned (the onus is basically on ‘consumer choice’ and I don’t believe the choice is anything like as out of our hands as we’d like to believe - people just tend to be selectively blind and generally hypocritical).

Perhaps a more positive path lies in exploiting this selective blindness and hypocrisy to better inform buyers? How that would operate I‘ve no idea. Just a random thought.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby Serpent on October 16th, 2020, 1:31 am 

What leads you the supposition that any potential buyer is being informed about his or her potential purchases?
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Re: Consumerism

Postby BadgerJelly on October 19th, 2020, 10:01 pm 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumerism

The term consumerism has several definitions.[6] These definitions may not be related to each other and confusingly, they conflict with each other.

One sense of the term relates to efforts to support consumers' interests.[6] By the early 1970s it had become the accepted term for the field and began to be used in these ways:[6]
Consumerism is the concept that consumers should be informed decision makers in the marketplace.[6] In this sense consumerism is the study and practice of matching consumers with trustworthy information, such as product testing reports.
Consumerism is the concept that the marketplace itself is responsible for ensuring social justice through fair economic practices.[6] Consumer protection policies and laws compel manufacturers to make products safe.
Consumerism refers to the field of studying, regulating, or interacting with the marketplace.[6] The consumer movement is the social movement which refers to all actions and all entities within the marketplace which give consideration to the consumer.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby Serpent on October 19th, 2020, 11:39 pm 

If we may assume that "the market" is not an actual place or entity, but the interaction of buyers and sellers of goods and services.
Consumer advocates, as well as regulating agencies of government, are participants in this multi-dimensional exchange, as are the manufacturers and distributors of goods, the various intermediaries in the many and various transfers of funds and delivery of goods. There are many participating entities, each with their own interest to protect and agenda to move forward. Some of the participants co-operate with one another, while some compete and many contend or even clash.
It's not a great, harmonious process.
I don't think it can be accurately described by a single title.
"Consumerism", according to the above quote, should represent the principle and practice of protecting the interest of end-users in the supply chain. That application of the word would be fine, if it didn't have the connotation of an ideology or belief system - the "ism" renders it too easy to misapply.
Thus, over time, "consumerism" has come to be mean - understood to mean - the culture of consumption; society organized around the buying and selling of goods, to the detriment of almost every other human activity and aspiration.
I take that adaptation - corruption ? - to be the root of the miscommunication here.

But even in its purest possible application, I have a problem with the word, because it's based on "consumer". The idea at the center of it divides people into "producers" and "consumers" - which is inaccurate, as we are all both - and very much else besides.
No person, no sentient creature, should be identified as "a consumer" - as if what they eat and use up were the single most significant, or only significant thing that can be known about them.
Even the most benign form of "consumerism" reduces a vital, potentially creative, interesting, lovable human being to someone who buys stuff. That's profoundly wrong - and sad.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby BadgerJelly on October 21st, 2020, 2:21 am 

I don’t think using the term ‘consumer’ is much more than a term to distinguish differences between people in the realm of economic discourse.

Before there was money there were ‘consumers’. The US dictionary does - for some reason - not have the other definition in? Kind of curious as all the online dictionaries (UK based) do have both terms.

Again though, the point of the thread is to find ‘positives’ within what you may personally believe to be a reprehensible position/ideology. The benefit of knowing the benefits helps to apply alternative positions that keep the good and remove the bad.

If you just want to do politics ... not really interested. My interest is impersonal and an investigative one. This is not to say I’m not open to arguments against what I’m saying. You haven’t offered arguments against anyway, just ‘but ...’ to which I can only reply ‘so what?’ because the point if the thread is not to measure the ‘positives’ against the ‘negatives’ it is to focus on what the positives are (the opening post couldn’t have been any more explicit could it?).

If you have an argument against having an ‘informed consumer’ - or if you prefer ‘an informed human being that necessarily has to buy things to live in society’ - then I’d be interested to hear how this is more of a detriment than a boon for everyone involved (I can think of a few ideas that would argue against such a thing but they’re not really concrete points and require a little imagination).

In the meantime another ‘positive’ would be that people are free to choose what they wish to buy rather than being told what they should be spending their cash on. Of course the issue with that is the event of ‘propaganda’ taken on into advertising ... I was kind of hoping someone would mention this a little more and get into possible positives surrounding advertising and marketing in general.

Another point would be to think about Central Government dictating what we can and cannot ‘consume’ and how resources are advertised, distributed and stockpiled. I don’t see this as the primary role of any government. This, in terms of ‘consumerism’, is significant as it is a delicate thing to talk of how best to inform the public - rather than merely ‘protect’ people (as if they’re uninformed brutes) - and the exact limitations to be imposed upon private companies and regulations in advertising. In this particular area of interest I believe ‘consumerism’ is positive in that the people decide what to buy - through private interests and public wants/needs - rather than having some kind of governmental overseer dictating what can and cannot be brought (obvious negative effects are the influence on private institutions upon government policies through coercion and general bribery: it’s not the point of this thread to go into the negative aspects in any depth).

Note: I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that the ‘consumerism’ view of consume for the sake of consuming is a pretty dumb view. In terms of the benefits of ‘consumerism’ - as in a view that looks to benefit people who need stuff (rather than just ‘want’ stuff) is probably worth looking at.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby Serpent on October 21st, 2020, 11:05 am 

BadgerJelly » October 21st, 2020, 1:21 am wrote:Again though, the point of the thread is to find ‘positives’ within what you may personally believe to be a reprehensible position/ideology.

The benefits of consumer advocacy are obvious enough:
- protect the public from unsafe, shoddy or overpriced merchandise
- halt fraudulent sales practice
- hold manufacturers and distributors accountable
- regulate industries and set standards of quality
- inform/warn the buyer about the potential pitfalls of a transaction
- empower government to act in the public good
- stabilize buyer-seller balance of power

Those are benefits in a particular kind of economic system, wherein the predator-prey relationship between purveyor and consumer is a given condition.
I can see the benefits of defending potential victims, even if I disapprove of a system which requires a large pool of potential victims for its routine operation.

The other, more common meaning of a social organization whose uniting principle is the ever-increasing consumption of resources -- that has no discernible benefits, except a short-term, short-sighted gain for the predatory classes.

If you have an argument against having an ‘informed consumer’

No argument has been presented for the existence of this 'informed consumer'.
Consumer advocacy does include, but does not stop at, publishing factual information - often in the face of strenuous opposition by the manufacturers. That wasn't contested. The benefits of agencies like the FDA and laws like whistleblower protection are not contested. Those are definitely on the positive side of the consumer-purveyor power relation scale.

In the meantime another ‘positive’ would be that people are free to choose what they wish to buy

That's debatable, certainly. On the whole, I think No, they're not. They are under an illusion of choice, while in fact, both the availability and quality of all merchandise is determined by the sellers; buyers have limited information and little recourse if they're cheated.

I was kind of hoping someone would mention this a little more and get into possible positives surrounding advertising and marketing in general.

Some ads are amusing... once or twice. They all become annoying very quickly with repetition. Some are more honest than others; some are more manipulative and misleading than others. In some cases, government regulation has forced them to disclose information the manufacturers (notably of drugs) would prefer not to.

Another point would be to think about Central Government dictating what we can and cannot ‘consume’ and how resources are advertised, distributed and stockpiled.

There is no Central Government: that's a standard boogeyman of capitalists. Nobody's dictating: governments do regulate commerce - some stringently; some lackadasiacally. That is part of any government's mandate.

Note: I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that the ‘consumerism’ view of consume for the sake of consuming is a pretty dumb view. In terms of the benefits of ‘consumerism’ - as in a view that looks to benefit people who need stuff (rather than just ‘want’ stuff) is probably worth looking at.

Of course it's dumb. Partly because people are naturally acquisitive, and have to learn self-control and self-denial as they mature. Consumer-culture discourages that maturation process: consumer economy thrives on infantile impulses. And partly because people are deliberately, calculatedly, very scientifically mis- and dis-informed, as well as emotionally manipulated.
But it it extremely, enormously, hideously, grotesquely, monstrously profitable for a very few.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby BadgerJelly on October 26th, 2020, 10:18 pm 

Serpent -

One response to you just to point out why I foed you and why you will remained foed (I won’t look at your response btw):

No argument has been presented for the existence of this 'informed consumer'.


I shouldn’t to point out why this is a silly comment ...

(a) It would be strange to argue when I’m asking for ideas.
(b) To argue for a misinformed consumer would be bizarre don’t you think?
(c) If you were implying that I was implying there are perfectly informed consumers that’s just silly too. I do remember saying ‘better informed’ not some strange idealistic universally uniformed society.

Anyway, one rather strange idea that popped into my head was that the means of manipulating the public to buy tat may actually work against the ‘consume for the sake of it’ end of ‘consumerism’ as the market place would arguably shift - in part - towards supplying people with what they need to and would use the same marketing devices. This has happened to a degree with advertisers targeting people’s wish to be ‘greener’ or more environmentally and ethically conscious. True enough, it is more about hoodwinking, but it may well end up shifting some people’s opinions and perspectives against consuming for the sake of consuming (a stretch, but something I find particularly interesting: although I’m NOT suggesting it is anywhere near strong enough as is to have anything but a negligible impact - if that!)

Anyway, have fun :)

Don’t be so down in the dumps! The world is as wonderful as it is hideous and unfair.
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Re: Consumerism

Postby Serpent on October 26th, 2020, 11:39 pm 

If you have an argument against having an ‘informed consumer’

[No argument has been presented for the existence of this 'informed consumer'.]

Perhaps both are silly comments, but they look to me evenly balanced.

Anyway, one rather strange idea that popped into my head was that the means of manipulating the public to buy tat may actually work against the ‘consume for the sake of it’ end of ‘consumerism’ as the market place would arguably shift - in part - towards supplying people with what they need to and would use the same marketing devices. This has happened to a degree with advertisers targeting people’s wish to be ‘greener’ or more environmentally and ethically conscious. True enough, it is more about hoodwinking, but it may well end up shifting some people’s opinions and perspectives against consuming for the sake of consuming (a stretch, but something I find particularly interesting: although I’m NOT suggesting it is anywhere near strong enough as is to have anything but a negligible impact - if that!)

Sure, that could work. I guess negligible is better than nothing.

Don’t be so down in the dumps!

What makes you equate clarity of thought with being "down in the dumps"?
The world is as wonderful as it is hideous and unfair.

I wholly agree.
And I'm not your foe.
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