(Why do you always have to be so political?)
Everything is political. If we really want to change the city we have to change the way we live. As I said before, the city is the direct result of our choices as consumers, not as designers. We have to realize every choice we make throughout the day and who benefits from that choice. And to do this is impossible. Our lives are so interconnected. Our thoughts can not be removed from the social context of language. In capitalism, the more links of power you can control the more power you can gain… and the more power you gain the more links you can control. The same is true with language. And there is no way to separate language from society, or society from power, or power from products. From the moment we are born we are taught to consume. That consumption is good for everyone involved. That by spending more we are helping the economy. And this is reinforced by a constant bombardment of advertisement. Advertisement’s sole purpose is to make you realize that you are not happy, not content with who you are, what you have, and what you are doing. Advertisement reinforces and directs goals. And advertisement can not be separated. Just sitting here at my desk I see hundreds of physical advertisements, most of them in the form of brand names. Why do we not want to give up authorship? Because it is an essential directive of consumption. Because it allows a link by which more power can be returned to the author. The idea is not to allow objects to exist freely as a part of life within the physical world, but to link them through language to their author. In other words, the object comes with strings attached. As long as these strings remain atached the author (company) has the opportunity to gain power in addition to the power the author (company) gained from the original sale. But then some companies get too big, or buy out another already successful company and so then we start to get scared that we aren’t really making choices so they use different brand names, but it all goes to the same place.
|Things I have already consumed this morning (7:00am – 10:00am)|
|‘staple’ item||brand name||parent company|
|shaving cream||edge||johnson & son|
|contacts||acuvue||johnson & johnson|
|cereal||cranberry almond crunch||post|
|soap||ivory||procter & gamble|
I am sure I am missing a lot of them too. Now these are just the things I consumed in the more traditional sense. In addition I have a virtually unending list of computer parts manufacturers, as well as computer program companies, book publishing companies, clothes companies. And these have all sorts of services associated with them, such as laundry, etc. Then there are things like where I live, rent, taxes. And even things that seem relatively free like air and sunlight have the cost of rent and the original cost of the windows and construction, etc. You can expand it to an infinite loop.
Yeah, but why am I wasting my time writing down what deoderant I used this morning?
It is easy to talk about theories. It is much more difficult to try to actually be a conscious consumer. When you actually look at every tiny thing you consume. This is how economy fools us, by keeping our heads on ideas while our hand reaches for products.
Maybe if you left civilization and lived on say… walden pond…
No, even then you are going to end up in prison. It is very fitting that Thoreau attempted to abandon society and live the life of the individualist only to end up in jail for not paying taxes. The greatest threat of Thoreau was that he stay in prison, that he be a willing victim of capitalism, choosing principles over comfort. Which is why someone bailed him out.
Pay the Workers – “Capitalism has shown itself to be a dynamic economic theory. But it is neither a coherent social policy nor political philosophy”