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No-one in this country owns his personal appearance any more. America has become a nation of obedient consumers actively participating in their own degradation. George Carlin, Brain Droppings audio
But even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behaviour are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers, and the chief motive is still the consumer’s anxiety that he is missing out on what is ‘in’. In this state of total consumerism – which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves – all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand. Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
Q: The Borg is the ultimate user. They’re unlike any threat your Federation has ever faced. They’re not interested in political conquest, wealth or power as you know it. They’re simply interested in your ship. Its technology. They’ve identified it as something they can consume. Star Trek: The Next Generation s2e16: Q Who
The British for the first time became consumers ... Music became a kind of conspicuous consumption, a driving force in a cultural boom. Suzy Klein, Rule Britannia! Music, Mischief and Morals in the 18th Century II, BBC 2014
The pursuit of enjoyment was becoming more fashionable and more commercial than it had ever been. ibid.
Britain was falling in love with mass consumerism. Dominic Sandbrook, The 70s II: Doomwatch 73-74, BBC 2012
Will lead to
The triumph of many
Who spend them. Leonardo da Vinci
Consumption is the sole end and purpose of production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the customer. Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776
Governments are deemed to succeed or fail by how well they make money go round, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose. They regard it as a sacred duty to encourage the country’s most revolting spectacle: the annual feeding frenzy in which shoppers queue all night, then stampede into the shops, elbow, trample and sometimes fight to be the first to carry off some designer junk which will go into landfill before the sales next year. The madder the orgy, the greater the triumph of economic management. George Monbiot
Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things. Philip Slater
Today’s consumers are eager to become loyal fans of companies that respect purposeful capitalism. They are not opposed to companies making a profit; indeed, they may even be investors in these companies – but at the core, they want more empathic, enlightened corporations that seek a balance between profit and purpose. Simon Mainwaring
A change has come over our democracy. It is called consumptionism. The American citizen’s first importance to his country is now no longer that of citizen but that of consumer. Unknown American journalist 1927
The same jeans. The same T-shirts. In other words, the West’s way ... All around the world fashions are converging to a Western template. Niall Ferguson, Civilisation: Is the West History? V Consumerism, Channel 4 2011
The new United States would weave its own cloth, make its own clothes, design its own fashions. ibid.
For a time cotton was king of the US economy. ibid.
That mass consumerism and standardisation could somehow be reconciled with rampant individualism was one of the smartest tricks pulled ever pulled by Western civilisation. ibid.
The Denim Curtain ... Why was it that Russians couldn’t make jeans? ibid.
The West’s ugly sister. Ugly and dumb. Because somehow the communist block failed to grasp the appeal of an item of clothing that could easily have come to symbolise the virtues of the hard-working proletariat. ibid.
Dressed in their jeans the baby boomers challenged the authority of their parents and their rulers. ibid.
The Czechs called jeans Texas-skis – Texan trousers. ibid.
The demands for Levis soared. ibid.
Their resistance to the West’s consumer society was weaker. ibid.
The collapse of communism: maybe it really was blue jeans and rock and roll. ibid.
The West’s way of dress had done for Soviet communism. ibid.
A billion pairs of matching pyjamas ... China had become the world’s drabbest society. Gone were the last vestiges of imperial silk. Gone too was the western dress favoured by the nationalists ... What a difference three decade of reform were to make to the way a society looks. ibid.
China’s began with a massive investment in textile manufacture. ibid.
Judging by what I’ve seen in Chinese cities, they are getting there. ibid.
Is that what Western civilisation boils down to? ... Is all we’ve got left today a spot of shopping. ibid.
Consumerism is so weird. It’s a sort of conspiracy we collude in. You'd think shoppers spending their hard-earned cash would be highly critical. You know that the manufacturers are trying to have you on. J G Ballard
There are signs, I think, that people aren’t satisfied by consumerism: that people resent the fact that the most moral decision in their lives is choosing what colour their next car will be. J G Ballard
The corruption of the American soul is consumerism. Ben Nicholson
In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy. Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality, 1973
From the foregoing survey of conspicuous leisure and consumption, it appears that the utility of both alike for the purposes of reputability lies in the element of waste that is common to both. In the one case it is a waste of time and effort, in the other it is a waste of goods. Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899
A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand. Dorothy L Sayers, Creed or Chaos? 1947
We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that’. And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world. Terence McKenna
All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume. Noam Chomsky
You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption. Noam Chomsky
Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are overconsuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster. Aldous Huxley, Island