About the book
I want to live in a better world. A world different from what we have today. A world in which we are free to exert the maximize control over our lives. But to start to make the world a more equal, democratic and sustainable place calls into question the very basis of our society; a society that is all consuming.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a bit of shopping. It can be fun and liberating. The problem is that it is never just a bit of shopping.
The book explains what has happened to our society; how and why we have shifted from knowing ourselves and each other largely by what we did, as producers, to understanding ourselves and each other by what we buy, as consumers. Of course we do things other than shop; we have families and friends, we relax and we work. But increasingly everything is mediated by buying.
The book explains how we got here and why. It then details the consequences, of course to the planet, to society and to us as individuals. It tells the reader how the market remorselessly finds new ways and new places to make money from us by constantly sowing the seeds of dissatisfaction.
The most important section comes at the end; what do we do? To live lives that aren’t all consuming we have to understand why we shop so much, why status matters, how we are seduced by shopping and why we are happy with the compensating but untimely cheap thrill of the till. When we know what we are being compensated for; a life based on real freedom rather than the none-freedom to shop till we drop, then alone and crucially together we can start to build the good society.
Will the recession be a turning point to this better world, or will we return to the treadmill of turbo-consumption?
STOP PRESS: November 2010, I stopped blogging for a while after the publication of the book, because of time pressures and a nagging notion that I had done consumption. But consumption nagged back and got in my face and my life. You cant escape it because your not allowed to escape it. The recession and now the cuts are making life a worry and misery for millions. Many are being forced to downsize. All, except the superrich, are cutting back. It is and will remain an opportunity to change the terms of debate rather than just go back to a life and a world that is all consuming. As Zizek tells us, we can image the end of human life on the planet but not the end of shopping. I think there are more post to be made.