Yesterday I listened to Benjamin Barber (former consultant of Bill Clinton among others) on “Totalitarian consumerism and the death of citizenship” at the Hertie School of Governance.
The title of the lecture is pretty self-explanatory but let’s clarify it. Barber in his book “Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilise Adults and Swallow Citizens” argues that consumerism is a new form of totalitarianism. So nice to listen to somebody speaking in clear and easy words, not trying to seem knowledgeable through tortuous and tedious rhetoric, talking spontaneously, simply.
This is a sad thing in fact, that such things that seem so obvious to some of us are perceived as total non-sense and sensationalism, or even worse, as revolutionary to others. But this is democracy isn’t it? Diversity.
Barber’s arguments are too simple some would argue, he is not making any concrete policy recommendations, underestimates the intellectual capacities of people, does not believe in individual responsibility, is a leftist, has a polluting Audi, a bad haircut and so on and so on. That is precisely the reason why I really like him (and also because he is such a great speaker; my bad daydreaming habit did not even interrupt his speech once!).
However basic his arguments were, they’re worth repeating over and over…until people start to understand in the first place that democracy is not a self-evident feature of capitalism (don’t attack me! I’m not against capitalism. I’m against the bad use that has been made of it for too long, and it’s not going to stop, it’s getting worse by the day).
One of the worst forms of imprisonment is when you are your own jailor. When you do not even realise that you are not free, that your choices are actually not yours, and when you actually deny to be tied by any type of chains.
What a shame that most people do not see the “pervasive, ubiquitous, addictive and unavoidable” power around us…
Barber’s blog! http://blog.civworld.org/