As our planet gets warmer, as animals go extinct, as the humans get sicker, as our economies bail and our politicians grow ever more twisted, we still find ourselves lurching to suck from the breast of the capitalismo machine. This is our solace, our sedative – consumerism is the opiate of the masses.
We're in a state of “pathological consumption,” George Monbiot explains, “a world-consuming epidemic of collective madness, rendered so normal by advertising and the media that we scarcely notice what has happened to us.”
For those of us who do notice it, who decry it, abstain, and try to eschew capitalism ... Christmas is the one time where we suddenly absolve ourselves of this stance, as we feel compelled, by a strange and powerful force within, to join in the momentous, orgiastic ritual of America's consumerist cult.
As we max out our credit cards, we hope we will become America's economic heroes – saving the nation from the fiscal cliff. But instead, we plummet further into a complicated recession, and as our spirits sink once again, the economists coo into our ears that there is a way out – consume more, they say! This is the paradox of our addiction – filling the void only to fall deeper into it.
The call to consume less – where it is heard – is denounced as pedantic, naive, authoritarian, even insane.
Decide for yourself where the insanity lies. Four out of five Americans are on Adderall, Ritalin or Prozac. One in three are obese. People in the Congo are massacred to facilitate our latest smart phone upgrades. America, Europe, Canada, Australia, we are all living 5 planet lifestyles. If you still need a reason to stop consuming – consider that manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of the global carbon dioxide emissions. And if we heat up just 4 degrees more, we will witness a total and irreversible collapse of human civilization. We're killing ourselves – and even as the denial about global warming is slowly breaking over us, we still choose – sheeplike – to join the throngs in the malls. Without significant rituals, we clamour to participate in the only ones we have, like the Christmas shopping binge, driven by our desire for meaning – of which our culture is devoid.
It's not the "fiscal cliff" you should worry about ... it's the culture, stupid! We are hanging by a nail onto our collective sanity – a cultural cliff hanger.
Buy Nothing Christmas gets to the heart of this matter. Reclaiming the ritual of this magical season – consciously and deliberately – is a radical, emancipatory choice. As Christmas approaches, can you find the strength to break the addiction, to wake up from the nightmare ... will you be brave enough to plant the seed of a new way of being? Make your life a demonstration, a defiance, a piece of art, a heroic journey. Start this Christmas – dare to gather your friends and family together and vow to do it differently this year.
And from now until the New Year let's have a steady stream of revellers marching around New York's Times Square – the iconic centre of global advertising – holding up #BUYNOTHINGXMAS signs for the whole world to see.
At last we’re in Winter. It’s the year 2047. A worn scrapbook from the future arrives in your lap. It offers a stunning global vision, a warning to the next generations, a repository of practical wisdom, and an invaluable roadmap which you need to navigate the dark times, and the opportunities, which lie ahead.