How many times have you heard criticisms of how we in modern society are crass consumers, and that we simply seek to consume more and more and more in an unending quest for status, relative positioning, salvation, or some other reason. Now, I have personal reasons to worry about my own materialism – in retrospect, some purchases I have made prevented me from saving or pursuing other more worthy activities. But generally, my consumerism/materialism should not worry my neighbors much. This is not news, and we have discussed this before on the site.
However, what if those who criticized crass consumerism took to heart what Adam Smith said about our economic lives – that the sole and only purpose of production is consumption. Would those who criticize mass materialism also slap bumper stickers on their cars that read:
Materialism Producing goods and services others value coarsens and petrifies everything, making everything vulgar, and every truth false. Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss writer.
The changes I made do not change the meaning in any way. To consume, even crassly, one must produce. And even if you argue that I consume ludicrous and useless goods, in order for me to be able to do that, I must have produced something else that people want. Producerism and consumerism are two sides of the same coin. They can only be separated when the state or some charity redistributes resources from the productive class to the consumptive class. They are the same thing. Doesn’t make for catchy bumper stickers does it?