Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The real leviathan


This is a graph of global consumer spending produced in 2012 by ATKearney. As you see, the figure for 2010 was $28 trillion which is projected to rise to $40 trillion by 2020.

I’ve no idea if these figures are realistic or not, but what impresses me about them is the gargantuan size of global consumer spending. Not so long ago, the danger of rampant consumerism was a significant topic among the chattering classes. Now it seems to have died down a little, or maybe it has been replaced by other worries.

Yet a moment of reflection is all we require to see what a monster consumerism is. How is anyone supposed to resist or control it? Perhaps we don’t need to resist or control it, which if true is just as well because it looks far too big to my eyes. The hunter gatherer is now merely a gatherer and destined to remain so until something gives.

The yen for a consumer lifestyle is at least partly responsible for sucking women out the home, sweeping kids off the open fields and onto the TV couch, filling their bedrooms with unused toys, jamming our roads with cars, pouring wine down our gullets, sucking us into restaurants, fast food outlets, cruise ships, airliners, holiday destinations, clothes we don’t need and every time-destroying wheeze we can be suckered into buying.

Well it’s better than war of course, but what about that leviathan, that multi-trillion dollar consumption monster? Are we ever likely to oppose its apparently insatiable demands. Maybe there is a clue in that word insatiable. Perhaps we are becoming satiated.


All the ghastly tawdriness of Christmas has trundled round again and my cynical old eyes see no sign of any change - just the opposite if anything. Strewth it's horrible - at least Tesco was today.


Mac said...

I’ve lost count of the times, when being in any store or shop, I’ve remarked to myself, or a fellow ‘shopper’, how much stuff there is that I never realised I don’t need.
Are advertisers not only selling their product but subliminally selling a dream? Or envy? Just a simple example is the supermarket Christmas advert but really applies to all advertising.
How many people are subliminally ‘convinced’ that if they get all their stuff from them then, according to the advert, that little table in the kitchen or living room they huddle round will magically transform into a wondrous solid wood table, that’ll seat thirty comfortably?
Adverts seem to me to all have a ‘knock-on’ effect; By our product and your life will be transformed. If not, get out and buy that table. Our coffee maker didn’t add the featured space age kitchen? Get out and get one.
Anyway, must be off - the TV’s just told me I NEED a new smartphone. And matching trendy cloths....

graham wood said...

"All the ghastly tawdriness of Christmas has trundled round again "

AKH. Couldn't agree more. On a slightly different level than the usual consumerism issue you raise, a wholly secular Christmas is not only a contradiction in terms but also must be a very sad affair.
Time to ponder again something much more profound and arresting in Wesley's timeless words:
"Our God contracted to a span,
incomprehensively made man"

Demetrius said...

The great beast of consumerism is about to consume itself.

A K Haart said...

Mac - trendy clothes? Comfy is what I go for these days.

Graham - even as an atheist I'd be quite content with something quieter and more spiritual.

Demetrius - but will it get fatter on its own flesh?

James Higham said...

Consumerism, the religion for today.

A K Haart said...

James - it is, although I understand some people have three upright dustpan and brush sets (: