'Tis the Week Before Xmas and Everyday is Zombie Shopping Day at the Mall

Once upon a time i too committed zombie like actions at one point or another in the week leading up to what Adbusters calls 'the doomsday consumer fest'. There i'd be, hating it but still unable to withstand the powerful forces of culture and expectation, a zombie or worse - a zombie consumer.

Zombies of course are the perfect symbol for mindless consumers being led through their paces by endless jingling bells. This inner demon that the zombies so nicely satirize - the consumer - shows itself most clearly this week.

If, like me, you're not real good at confronting your inner demons, perhaps taking a look at the history of the consumer demon would help. That's where Richard Heinberg, a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, comes in. Heinberg's article 'The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism—and the Birth of a Happy Alternative' is a well researched and beautifully written piece full of insight and information complete with a fantasy ending where they [we] live happily ever after.

Heinberg sees the crucial problem with consumerism as resource limits. He says, "Regardless of whether consumerism is socially desirable, in the long run endless growth is physically impossible to sustain. The math is simple: even at a fraction of one percent per year growth in consumption, all of Earth’s resources would eventually be used up."

In reality we'll never 'use up' all of the Earth's resources, but we won't have to because the consumer demon also produces mountains of wastes, of which water, air, and soil can absorb only so much. Consequently,
long before we exhaust all the planet's resources we'll have sunk in our own crap.

Solutions to this dilemma are tricky. Our actions, even more importantly our imaginations are constrained because consumerism has become self-reinforcing. Nearly everybody wants and thinks they need an economy with more jobs and higher returns on investments. The majority of folks, of all stripes, are invested in extractive capitalism as well as being inhabited and informed by inner consumer zombies.

Heinberg asks us to "Consider this simple thought experiment: What would happen if everyone were to suddenly embrace a Gandhian ethic of voluntary simplicity? Commerce would contract; jobs would vanish; pension funds would lose value; tax revenues would shrivel, and so would government services." Collapse

Fortunately, now i'm an old codger, the broader culture holds little sway and my family long ago figured out what a weirdo they have among them and so have adjusted their expectations accordingly. My best friend and i will enjoy this week as we always do - with long walks, kisses, and the joy of having licked a least one inner demon.