Blackspot

Consumption Strike Grows

Retail sales declined sharply in September as the General Consumption Strike gains mass participation in the United States.

A headline on today's MarketWatch.com says it all: "Shoppers on strike in September". In an earlier blog post, I suggested that the decrease in consumer spending may seem like uncoordinated fear but is actually partly the result of an organized campaign by fed-up consumers who are using a General Consumption Strike as a tool to change the world. Now is the time to join this growing movement to consume less and live more.

The mass media is understandably alarmed by the sharp declines in consumer spending that have happened in the last three months: as everyone knows, our economies are based on unhealthy, unsustainable consumption. The more we destroy the earth by turning our natural resources into disposable garbage the "healthier" our economies are, or so we are told. But it is becoming obvious to most people that, as the revolutionary leader in Ursula K. Le Guin's classic The Dispossessed taught, excess is excrement and the only way to restore health to our social body is to decrease the unnecessary excesses of our society and to lower our consumption of the earth. In other words, live simply so that others may simply live.

The New York Times summarizes the gains of our General Consumption strike thus:

Retail sales fell sharply in September as consumers shunned department stores, auto showrooms and shopping malls, ratcheting back spending for a third consecutive month.

Last month’s 1.2 percent decline in retail sales was the sharpest drop in years, and it came in the heart of the back-to-school shopping season, traditionally the busiest time of the year for retailers outside of the December holidays.

 

The scent of capitalism's decline is in the air, people are now looking for alternatives. Some are turning to Marx -- the Guardian reports sales of Marx's books are up 300% in Germany -- and others are looking to local currencies and alternative economies. Our time is approaching, let us be prepared.

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22 comments on the article “Consumption Strike Grows”

Displaying 1 - 10 of 22

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Max

I can see that, maybe this war can be won without any violent battles, but on the field of personality. People them selves hold the solution, and looks like were using it. Most people are unconsciously helping this movement by cutting back to save their own money. Others have had that goal of less for awhile, and i applaud them all.

Max

I can see that, maybe this war can be won without any violent battles, but on the field of personality. People them selves hold the solution, and looks like were using it. Most people are unconsciously helping this movement by cutting back to save their own money. Others have had that goal of less for awhile, and i applaud them all.

Disengage

People are buying less because of the financial crisis, not because of some organized strike. You are making a false spin on of a real problem.
You write: "as everyone knows, our economies are based on unhealthy, unsustainable consumption" and I agree. People are over-consuming. But this is not a black and white situation. I guess black is over-consumption and white is under-consumption. Neither is going to work in the economical system we have today. We have to stay in the grey zone, find a balance between black and white. Over-consuming made the system fail because people were loaning money they didn't have and didn't have the ability to pay back. Under-consuming will also have a negative effect because then no money will be moved around and people will stop making money and lose jobs. Stop writing about the problem based on the Adbuster agenda to "break the capitalist system" and instead see it for what it is and be realistic about it.

Disengage

People are buying less because of the financial crisis, not because of some organized strike. You are making a false spin on of a real problem.
You write: "as everyone knows, our economies are based on unhealthy, unsustainable consumption" and I agree. People are over-consuming. But this is not a black and white situation. I guess black is over-consumption and white is under-consumption. Neither is going to work in the economical system we have today. We have to stay in the grey zone, find a balance between black and white. Over-consuming made the system fail because people were loaning money they didn't have and didn't have the ability to pay back. Under-consuming will also have a negative effect because then no money will be moved around and people will stop making money and lose jobs. Stop writing about the problem based on the Adbuster agenda to "break the capitalist system" and instead see it for what it is and be realistic about it.

Anonymous

You say, "People are buying less because of the financial crisis, not because of some organized strike" but I don't agree. Obviously it is a mixture of both. There have been murmurs of a general consumption strike for years. The movement may be small, but it exists.

Besides, if people aren't consuming because of the financial crisis or because of a general consumption strike (that you haven't heard about yet), then people still aren't consuming. And by not consuming, they are calling into question the viability of a society whose sole reason for existence -- and sole way of existing -- is endless consumption.

Anonymous

You say, "People are buying less because of the financial crisis, not because of some organized strike" but I don't agree. Obviously it is a mixture of both. There have been murmurs of a general consumption strike for years. The movement may be small, but it exists.

Besides, if people aren't consuming because of the financial crisis or because of a general consumption strike (that you haven't heard about yet), then people still aren't consuming. And by not consuming, they are calling into question the viability of a society whose sole reason for existence -- and sole way of existing -- is endless consumption.

Disengage

I understand what you are saying. Maybe the general consumption strike hasn't reached my country in a notable way yet. Of course it is a good thing that people are cutting down on their spending, but I believe there has to be a balance.
I just wish the Adbusters bloggers would also write about how this consumption strike will effect the world instead of just saying "consumption strike is great!". I wish they could give a more complete picture of the problem; I'd like to know how they see the world functioning without hardly any consumption. I'm just having a hard time understanding how a consumption strike will "save us".

Disengage

I understand what you are saying. Maybe the general consumption strike hasn't reached my country in a notable way yet. Of course it is a good thing that people are cutting down on their spending, but I believe there has to be a balance.
I just wish the Adbusters bloggers would also write about how this consumption strike will effect the world instead of just saying "consumption strike is great!". I wish they could give a more complete picture of the problem; I'd like to know how they see the world functioning without hardly any consumption. I'm just having a hard time understanding how a consumption strike will "save us".

Micah White

Disengage,

 

Thank you for the thoughtful replies to my blog post.  In future posts, I will try to address the points you raise.  I agree with you: what is needed now is an Affirmation of how the world can function without over-consumption.  Endless negation and nihilism won't get us to a better world, and I don't think that the strength of the consumption strike lies with its ability to hurt society, but its strength to heal society. I can't promise I'll be able to answer your question fully, but I can at least try and get the discussion started.

 

Until I have time to post a more detailed response, I'd just like to throw a few links out there to the idea of "De-Growth".  Here is a good explaination of De-Growth:

 

Degrowth doesn’t need to be a negative idea: just as when a river bursts its banks and we all want it to diminish and for the waters to return to their course, the same thing occurs with the unsustainability of the current situation. Degrowth isn’t something negative, but rather something necessary.

Degrowth attacks the myth of growth. It proposes abandoning the parameters of productivism and consumerism, and ultimately leaving the capitalist system. In order to do this, it proposes re-localising our ways of life.

Degrowth consists in abandoning the process of economic globalisation and re-localising the economy —production and consumption — thus reducing transport. In order to do that we must re-localise politics, thus putting it back under the control of people.

The above quote is from the newspaper distributed by Enric Duran (read more)

 

Here are a few other links worth looking at:

"The globe downshifted. There are practical ways in which we could immediately start to save our species from ecological and social crisis and our planet from being destroyed by our greed. So why aren’t we adopting them? What prevents us from desiring a simpler and better way of life?"(Source: http://mondediplo.com/2006/01/13degrowth)

 

"Society has been locked into thought dominated by progressivist growth economics; the tyranny of these has made imaginative thinking outside the box impossible. The idea of a contraction-based society is just a way to provoke thought about alternatives. To accuse its advocates of only wanting to see economies contract within the existing system rather than proposing an alternative to that system, and to suspect them (as do some counter-globalisation economists) of wanting to prevent the underdeveloped world from resolving its problems reflects at best ignorance and at worst bad faith." (Source: http://mondediplo.com/2004/11/14latouche)

 

A google search for "degrowth" will turn up more information. I will make a more detailed post soon, in the meantime, keep the thoughts coming!

 

Micah M. White

Micah White

Disengage,

 

Thank you for the thoughtful replies to my blog post.  In future posts, I will try to address the points you raise.  I agree with you: what is needed now is an Affirmation of how the world can function without over-consumption.  Endless negation and nihilism won't get us to a better world, and I don't think that the strength of the consumption strike lies with its ability to hurt society, but its strength to heal society. I can't promise I'll be able to answer your question fully, but I can at least try and get the discussion started.

 

Until I have time to post a more detailed response, I'd just like to throw a few links out there to the idea of "De-Growth".  Here is a good explaination of De-Growth:

 

Degrowth doesn’t need to be a negative idea: just as when a river bursts its banks and we all want it to diminish and for the waters to return to their course, the same thing occurs with the unsustainability of the current situation. Degrowth isn’t something negative, but rather something necessary.

Degrowth attacks the myth of growth. It proposes abandoning the parameters of productivism and consumerism, and ultimately leaving the capitalist system. In order to do this, it proposes re-localising our ways of life.

Degrowth consists in abandoning the process of economic globalisation and re-localising the economy —production and consumption — thus reducing transport. In order to do that we must re-localise politics, thus putting it back under the control of people.

The above quote is from the newspaper distributed by Enric Duran (read more)

 

Here are a few other links worth looking at:

"The globe downshifted. There are practical ways in which we could immediately start to save our species from ecological and social crisis and our planet from being destroyed by our greed. So why aren’t we adopting them? What prevents us from desiring a simpler and better way of life?"(Source: http://mondediplo.com/2006/01/13degrowth)

 

"Society has been locked into thought dominated by progressivist growth economics; the tyranny of these has made imaginative thinking outside the box impossible. The idea of a contraction-based society is just a way to provoke thought about alternatives. To accuse its advocates of only wanting to see economies contract within the existing system rather than proposing an alternative to that system, and to suspect them (as do some counter-globalisation economists) of wanting to prevent the underdeveloped world from resolving its problems reflects at best ignorance and at worst bad faith." (Source: http://mondediplo.com/2004/11/14latouche)

 

A google search for "degrowth" will turn up more information. I will make a more detailed post soon, in the meantime, keep the thoughts coming!

 

Micah M. White

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