Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Transformer Society

Perhaps one of the greatest barriers to developing a sustainable society and world is rooted in the way we presently allow ourselves to be named.

We are Consumers.

Think about it. We're not citizens, or buyers, or residents. No we have allowed ourselves to be defined simply as things that consume.

According to Wikepedia,

Consumerism is the equating of personal happiness with the purchasing of material possessions and consumption.The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen.

Veblen's subject of examination, the newly emergent middle class arising at the turn of the twentieth century, comes to full fruition by the end of the twentieth century through the process of globalization.[1]

Consumerism has strong links with the Western world, but actually is multi-cultural and non-geographical. People purchasing goods and consuming materials in excess of their basic needs is as old as the first civilizations (see Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Ancient Rome, for example). "

In order to truly move to a sustainable society, we are going to have to reshape this kind of language into something else. We need to reject the consumer label.

In the early days of Marx and Veblen, consumerism was rejected for its obvious philosophical and moral shortcomings; but today, it is no longer just an abstraction for the philosphers, it is a question of physical limits. We are reaching the limits of our ability to put carbon into the air, as well as mine it from the earth.

One of the reasons we are reaching these limits, is because we are, in fact, not consumers at all. We are transformers. We transform food into crap, trees into boxes, and boxes into rubbish. We transform fields into suburbs, and forests into feed lots.

We have the ability to transform things into beautiful creations, but instead we "let the market work", which is just a handy way to steal from the generations that follow us, while we go about willy nilly making our built environment coyote ugly.

We are indeed the Transformer Society.

And in order to get to a sustainable world, we must reject this current world view that promotes the raping and pillaging of our lands, our air, our aesthetic sensibilities, and our human soul. We must recognize it for what it is, uncivilized and suicidal.

Let us reject this label of "consumer".

And become what we truly are,


Alive, awake, aware,

More like bees.

Less like sheep.


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