Defending the consumer society

The fantasy
The fantasy
The fantasy

For the last decade we have been told that consumerism … is bad. It is evil. It sustains the capitalists, who in return exploit the common folk. The State must intervene on behalf of the common folk and restore the means of production to the proletariat. Stop exploitation is the calling.

We need to call them out on this heresy, and we need to do it forcefully.

Chavismo’s narrative is fueled by the defense of the small guy. The forgotten. The wretched ones. But in the process, it has turned them into mere subjects. The State itself becomes the exploiter. And the State is the Party.

In opposition to Chavismo we have a myriad of camps, none of them really providing an alternative narrative.

We have those who seek vindication, those looking at chavismo as a historic mistake and pursuing an agenda of restoring the republic of the past. There are also those who see today’s problems as a mere lack of “efficiency”. Poor management sort of speak. Others would argue that we must all come together in the defense of freedom, but fail to translate that into something palpable.

Free to do what? What freedoms do the average Venezuelans lack? Well, the freedom to consume for starters.

A consumer society is defined as a type of society in which the ‘satisfaction of daily needs’ is realized ‘through the capitalist model’. Daily desires are satisfied trough the acquisition of ‘commodities’, goods which are produced for exchange and are on sale on the market. We also conceptualize the purchase and use of goods as acts of ‘consumption’.

Yes. To consume as much as we want with the resources we have. See, consumption is way more than just satisfying needs. It is about satisfying preferences, tastes, fetishes. It is about food and nourishing, but also about gastronomy, about culture, technique and art. We consume experiences, services. We acquire tools for earning and learning. To practice hobbies which won’t yield any other dividend that a sense of achievement and happiness. Through consumption we tell society who we are. How we are unique. To be able to consume is to have choices. To have choices is to have power.

Overconsumption is bad – bad for the individual, bad for the environment. But that’s the beauty in all of it. In a free society information moves among individuals, also alerting them of the consequences of bad decisions. After all, with power comes responsibility.

Any construct of a narrative around the ideal of freedom must consider that freedom is only attainable by empowering each and every individual, and that empowering happens by giving people choices. Chavismo distrusts individuals with power. It only seeks what they seem as good or proper. We see it in the way they seek to control society. From censorship to economic regulations.  Chavism hates that Venezuelans have choices.

We need to call them out on this. The lack of choice is a supression of a basic right, and that enslaves us. We can only wish somebody would say this clearly.