Neoliberalism and the culture of consumption
The contemporary capitalist economic model is based on the well-known cycle of production and consumption. The groundwork of this systems is formed by three actors: the employee, the employer and the consumer. The employee sells labor to the employer; the employer has the means of production at his disposal and provides employment; and finally the consumer, an indispensable actor to keep this cycle going. The role of the consumer is taken by both the employer and the employee. Due to the limited character of this essay I will not try to revise this cycle of production and consumption, nor will I provide an alternative to it. The goal of this brief discourse is to provide several pivotal critical remarks of the contemporary economic system we live in and to discuss the unsustainable nature of it, which resembles more a vicious circle with inevitable downfall rather than a cycle which furnishes prosperity and viability of mankind. Two concealed concepts are at the basis of our production system: intrinsic obsolescence and planned obsolescence of goods. The former is a direct consequence of the principle of competition and cost efficiency which it entails. Planned obsolescence on the other hand is necessary to maintain the cyclical consumption of goods and implies a breakdown of products within a certain amount of time. From this follows that product sustainability is actually inverse to economic growth. Everything is being done to enhance and to accelerate consumption. This takes place in a world where natural resources are becoming increasingly scarse and the problem of pollution is acute more than ever before. So in stead of economizing we are basically doing everything to help our own destruction. Although some national governments and plentiful civil society groups have become wary if this system, it has proven to be very hard, not to say impossible, to come up with a decent alternative, simply because...
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