Toward Democratic Eco-socialism
as the Next World System

17. Resisting the Culture of Consumption
and Adopting Sustainable Consumption

Book cover: Ecosocialism: A Radical Alternative to Capitalist Catastrophe by Michael Löwy

Obviously, all humans need to consume a certain amount of food, clothing, and shelter in order to sustain themselves. Capitalism, however, converts 'needs' into 'wants' through voluminous and alluring advertisement and as a compensation for alienation in the workplace and everyday social life. From an eco-socialist perspective, Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster [2011] in What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism argue that a democratic and egalitarian economic system will have to limit consumption levels to significantly less than they generally are for most middle-class people in developed societies. Unfortunately, at least in developed societies, resistance to the culture of consumption remains confined to niche groups.

Book cover: Everyday Environmentalism by Alex Loftus

Jonathan Neale [2008] in Stop Global Warming: Change the World warns climate activists not to talk about sacrifice by ordinary people. My comments of resisting the culture of consumption are directed primarily to the affluent, even the affluent in the working class, who turn to consumerism as a compensation for alienation in the workplace and in everyday life in developed societies. In reality, most people in developed societies and the more affluent sectors in developing societies will need to scale back their consumption of material goods as well as restrict the number of holidays to far-a-away destinations that they take.

Copyright © 2016

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