The banality of consumption

Life in today’s capitalist societies is far from great. It’s full of meaningless bullshit work, full of laws and other constraints, and all of that in the face of multiple ecological crises that ordinary people seem unable to do anything about and elites seem determined to ignore until it is too late.

That is exactly what capitalism did to us: we are of no other use than being mindless, dependent consumers to buy the shitty products of corporate capitalists in order to enrich them. All of that at the cost of the whole natural environment, and all of that only because directly robbing us or letting us work as slaves turned out to be too cumbersome and too dangerous for the elites. So instead, they invented the capitalist economy as a tool of oppression. Not consciously – it emerged over time by trial and error.

So we are wasting our lifetime for a few moments of diversion granted by consumer products, and for the rent we have to pay, and for the taxes we have to pay into systems that are not frugal, not accountable and not improvable. This is not the life we want. Especially not at this time of unprecedented ecocide and impending climate catastrophe.

Instead, here is a very rough draft of a social order that would be up to meet today’s challenges. And it would be meaningful, interesting, fun to take part.

First of all, no bullshit work anymore. Everything that is ecologically destructive is bullshit work. Everything that is luxury or unnecessary or inefficient or technologically nonsense is bullshit work. We have no time or resources for that, as this is an ecological emergency. Now these about 60-80% of people freed from bullshit jobs can then build the society and world we want to live in, everyone according to their full set of skills.

We don’t just need a Green New Deal, we need a New Deal for Everything, and everyone would have both hands full of work to contribute. No idle minute anymore, no diversion like watching mindless series, movies, YouTube, playing computer games and so on. You won’t miss it, as you’ll be needed in the real world, to do meaningful work, probably for the first time of your whole miserable life.

And here’s just some the work that we’d have to do, and fast:

  • transition to a zero-carbon economy within 10 years (it’s not that difficult once everyone is switched over to a frugal, mindful lifestyle, which would be about an 80% reduction of GHG emissions already)
  • carbon sequestration
  • solving the food waste crisis, once and for all
  • frugal innovation and frugal lifestyles: for long-term well-being, being extremely frugal with our non-renewables is key
  • abolishing all copyright, once and for all: knowledge is to share, not for profit
  • protecting half the planet: half is for nature, half is for people
  • ecosystem restoration, including global desert greening, including accelerated rainforest construction etc.
  • ocean restoration and de-acidification
  • human population limiting (by free education for every girl on the planet as long as they like … something like that)
  • de-extinction: bring the woolly mammoth back, but before that, let’s bring most of the species back that we killed off so far
  • solving the multi-resistence pathogen crisis: proper healthcare systems, all-organic agriculture and animal husbandry, phage therapy and so on
  • proper education systems: those that make scientists, not obedient citizens and mindless consumers
  • humans as a multi-planetary species: yes, let’s make Mars habitable, why not?
  • asteroid / comet impact prevention

And money is not the problem – not in the way you think. Agriculture employs 3% of people in industrial nations, so everyone else is free to do other stuff. There is no law of nature that says this “other stuff” must be crappy consumer goods. It’s all just a matter of how we organize ourselves. Currently, society is organized around money as a resource allocation system. But we can organize about something completely different just as well. Like around a collective decision-making software.

Now what is the chance to construct that social order before The Crisis hits home? What is the chance that I can ring the bell of my neighbor, explain what I explain here, and then he or she would join the movement and it would grow from there?




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