I’d like to break away from the arms-length satire for a moment and ask, are we heading for trouble?
(Damn, even when I’m not trying to be sarcastic, it comes out that way.) A quick mine of The Skwib blogroll found some grist for the depressing notion that our consumer lifestyle is untenable, both in terms of what its doing to the planet and what it does to us as human beings.
First off, via the Rev., we read this long piece from Joe Bageant, which is a dispatch from the American Class war. Bageant quotes Charles Eisenstein’s The Ascent of Humanity:
It is a mistake to think that we live ultra-specialized lives and somehow add another ingredient called “community” on top of it all. What is there really to share? Not much that matters, to the extent that we are independent of neighbors and dependent on faceless institutions and distant strangers. Real communities are interdependent. Never in all history has there been such a lonely, inauthentic civilization.
Essentially, this is a meditation on the destruction of the American middle class as an incubator for community. And lest the Canadians reading this feel smug, we have enough in common in terms of our consumer culture that you will feel uncomfortable, perhaps even sad. Not that I live entirely without a community, but I certainly recognize the syndrome that Baegent’s piece outlines:
After all, what can we really do together? Consume. Drink. Consume. Talk. Consume tickets to entertainment. Consume. There is little else to do with other human beings in America than consume. So most of our primary life activity is solitary. We drive, do housework, pay bills, watch television… When we do “get together with friends,” there is little to talk about, other than one form or another of consumption, consuming music, or movies or whatever. We can not tell each other anything new because we all get the same news and information from the same monolithic sources. At the same time we try to fill the loneliness for a real human community that we have never experienced by calling any group of people who come together in any way a “community.” Online community. Planned community.
(Hat tip to the Rev. at Less People Less Idiots for bringing it to my attention.)
I guess the obvious question — is it intentional, or have we just kind of sleepwalked into this state. Well, Archer at Lawyerworldland has found evidence that it is not an accident in his Anthony Burgess-inspired GOP and Droogs. And at Jesus’ General, the Patriotboy has found even more to support the idea.
The iconic photo is by Carmi, over at Written Inc. Yes, I agree it’s brilliant.