Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The "Empire of Consumption"

I saw Chris Hedges speak last night and the "empire of consumption" was the phrase he used to refer to what this society has become.Was it always this apparent or have things changed drastically? The commercialization of society has never seemed more obvious and obnoxious than it is today. He observes that it is a progression that has happened over time.But this out-of control growth was years in the making and, like any malignant tumor, it will destroy the host organism.

Of course, for many years the Gay Pride Parade has been used as a vehicle for advertising, some of its biggest sponsors being alcohol companies. This is not subtle irony. The fact that alcoholism is a big problem in the LGBT community only makes the strategy more blatant and obscene. What a fertile field for new consumers! And what a sad commentary on queer liberation for those of us who remember the early marches to the aptly named, Marx Meadow in Golden Gate Park.

Materialism and privatization are the mantras of the 21st century. An Ayn Rand-style, libertarian world is barreling down upon us inch by inch. It is one where the corporations and the 1% are in the driver's seat and the rest of us are under the wheels. No sector is immune. The final steps involve the destruction of labor unions so that workers are easily exploitable, cheap and plentiful. The education system is being replaced by a network of charter schools where teachers are expendable and students, taught to perform like trained seals on exams but not to employ critical thinking skills, must pay to attend. Libraries, hospitals, the postal service and prisons are all being targeted for privatization in the new survival of the wealthiest economy.

Chain stores and chain restaurants are rapidly replacing the mom 'n pop genre. The internet provides competition for almost every market excepting only those like food, medical care and hairdressing. The trades that require the physical presence of our bodies. Everything else is up for grabs.