“Attention customers. This train is going out of service.” We are no longer passengers. Passengers don’t have a choice. We do. We have the choice to wait for the next train or…. take a cab or walk to work so we get there on time. We are customers. “Passenger” is relegated to the dustbin of our modern lexicon along with “citizen.” We consumers, customers waiting for the train. There are no other options, but we refuse to see that. We know who we are(tm) and gloat in the knowledge that we are “customer”‘ and the customer is always right.
Today, in our enlightened free market, we refer to everyone as a “consumer.” A huge tube eating at one end, expelling at the other. And while biologically true that we are just walking tubes filtering in French wine and Triscuits our mouths perpetually open and expelling a mixture of said wine and Triscuits(tm) — inexplicably now containing lead, cadmium, and countless other non-bio degradable elements that make waste water unfit to pump on one’s parched lawn — this need not be the way life is lived. Our current consumption has been constructed over years of marketing to create a version of capitalism that has never existed before – this is not the matter of concept, such as how the idea of capitalism never existed before Marx identified it as a distinct “thing” (prior to that it was only “the market”), but the dynamics of the market for a certain amount of unsustained growth we call “Consuming.” We use the parlance of consumerism in place of communism, but no less an ideology over practical reality. “As a consumer I…” a) want the best plastic sex toys Chinese children can make b) what to buy government c) need to toss out my inflatable Halloween spiderskullbaby and replace it with a 20 foot tall SantaClauseXmastreewavingatyouhahaisntthatfunny.
We consumers are then shocked by the contradictions. Much the same way that communists heard the party line and then stood on the bread line were shocked to see that to each according to his need never seemed according to need. We consumers are in a similar state of affairs with the strict ideology overwhelming our mentality as it fails to alter the physical reality arround us. Our consumer society has failed to bend light and space in the way that we, as consumers, wish since we’re paying for this physical life with our hard-earned money and want to make sure that light and space deliver on what we’re promised. We consumers are then shocked that our minds are numbed by allsexallthetime, disposable relationships, toss away commodities and a media that is entertaining us to death. “How did it get this way,” we ask while flipping through our ten thousand channels wondering what Cablevision did with Fox in our free market open society. We cannot understand why our wars are fought by private armies, our prisons corporate, our government outsourcing as many of its services as we can turn into profitable enterprises. Along with our consumer paradise, we shed private sector jobs in an attempt to drive down prices while maintaining our profits forever marching into a 7-10% increase every quarter World Without End – Amen. However, comrade consumer knows that this loss of jobs is good since we will all work in services and perhaps fix the machines that feed us soft service coco ice cream – strangely from a tube connected to our butt. Comrade consumer wants to get what Consumer paid for with his/her merger tax contribution. S/H/e/IT then wonders why the government sells itself to people who can pay to play. Corporations are just consumers too! Since… they are natural people anyway…. They just happen to be natural people with more money than you do and who will live forever unless you are Bear Sterns (BSC). The consumer makes fun of the old SOVIET Union and their toxic waste lands created by attempting a workers paradise. We make fun of the rusted factories, not looking to Detroit, Erie, Buffalo, Lawrence, Stovepipe City, etc, etc. We jab at the clear-cut Communist Russian forests cut by one shock troupe of SOVIETs and then never processed by the other shock troupe not looking at our own clear-cut forests where when there is too much lumber on the market we don’t stop cutting, we turn milled products into diapers in order to keep the prices of boards up. We turn our noses up at SOVIST mistakes yet our consumer paradise has loose laws that allowed oil rigs to explode, pig shit to cover rivers, and our nations water to be filled with hormones and prescription drugs for all our manic depressiveaddadhdbipolar children we are currently shitting out. The communists in their inability to productively fuck up the planet have been far out stripped by our Consumerism and our efficient processes to extract from the earth, turn into a product, and toss out. Consider the stir stick. The wooden stir stick. The wood is taken as a tree in the forest, dragged from said mountain top or hill to a mill by huge machines, cut up by more machines, loaded onto a train or truck and taken to a boat,said stick traveled around the world to a port, unpacked deep within a container, put on a truck, unpacked from the container and in a box put on another truck that makes delivers to stores,driven about the city, taken our of the box by the cafe worker and put in a cup. Taken by you. Spins three times about your cup. Then it is tossed out.
Then the stick is gathered by a cafe employee (as the iPod plays ironic music), bagged in another bag, picked up by a small truck that makes pick ups from stores, dumped in a yard, put in a larger truck, driven on the highway out of the city, and dumped in the forest – inexplicably with lead, cadmium, mercury, and radon.
We take in and expel and then are shocked that somewhere swirling in the Pacific ocean is a continent made from floating soda bottles, blunt wrappers, and Halloween skullbabyspidersnakeheads and inflatable Santas who seem less funny being extracted from our food chain. We are shocked that as consumers we can’t afford the services that used to be provided via the “civic” and that many of the things we need, we already have (I am certain this writer’s grandmother was not the only one who – gasp – reused Christmas papers or even the ornaments). However, telling people they aren’t consumers or need to think outside of the consumer/productservice mentality is like telling SOVIETs to lighten up about the INTERNATIONAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD and PEOPLE UNITY BREAD or some such shit. Communism and the use of comrade have been replaced by a consumer mentality so deep in this nation (USA or is that the BOA since one works for the other). Our mentality has us wanting “myspace” “my documents” “my music” and then gets angry when not everything int he world can be bought with a “my” and we are shocked that youth think only of themselves or that self interest is valued above collective agreement to the extent that people are willing to smash heads or bounce their fat selves off of other fat selves protecting their little piggy rights.
Comrade consumer is king. We even refer to the developmentally impaired members of society, the profoundly retarded, as “consumers.” Yes, consumers. (Consumers that cost the tax paying “customer” $500,000 per year – take the average life span from 18 when they leave youth care and enter adult care and live on average to 60 is $25,000,000 per “consumer” and in New York State alone there are 6000 of these individuals it makes one thing, why am I not wearing diapers and going to the zoo more often? but that’s another story). Perhaps prisoners are not prisoners, but clients in care facilities and perhaps they too are customers, or consumers. We are in a free market after all. Prisons are such a large industry that their lobbyists are changing laws to get more of us in their care facilities. A free market that allows privileges to the few, the proud, the developmentally impaired of us. Those Walmart shopper drones, the corn-fed, the customers who can afford only discount inflatable lawn ornaments, discount environments, and government of the dollar store variety.
We are in a glorious consumer paradise, Consumer. If you disagree, the secret police will arrest you. However, if you have enough money, you can choose who arrests you and what colour your cell walls are.
” Under communism we had money but there was nothing to buy, now we have no money and there is lots to buy”