I feel so dirty.

d-m-c at worldnet.att.net d-m-c at worldnet.att.net
Thu Dec 31 11:11:27 PST 1998

Doug wrote:
>Barbara Ehrenreich used to have a very convincing rap that the usual left
>line about the desire to consume was horribly moralizing and austere and
>missed the pleasurable aspects of buying stuff.

She developed this further in _Fear of Falling_ where she points out that there is this tension between this moralizing Puritanical ethos that says "save, don't spend, and if you must do it 'properly' by investing" and the late capitalist consumer ethos of spend, spend, spend. We need both under contemporary conditions.

>But I can't imagine left
>politics ever being popular if it remains so drenched in the hair-shirt
>ethic of the Adbuster/voluntary simplicity crowd.

Well, the voluntary simplicity crowd have their own form of consumption do they not? Look, it's lke this. When I was playing Suzie Homemaker I very much loved coupons, rebates, and figuring out ways to save money -- or rather, figuring out ways to rip off the system. For what could be more satisfying than figuring out how to get something for nothing. I was elated when I'd see Clairol Herbal Essence Shampoo on sale for $2.00. I'd gather all my $1.00 off coupons, buy me up a few bottles, and then soak of the UPC codes and get my $1 refunds too. Thrilling. I got them for free!

I cheated the system. And Peter, I love asserting my consumer rights and getting things for free, even though I know how absolutely NOT the point it all is, in the end anyway.

That's how I understand the voluntary simplicity crowd. They're playing games within the context of a system of rules that they never really ultimately question or challenge. If they didn't have all of us pathetic consumers to define themselves against and feel superior to, where would they be?

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