September 1, 2017

Baudrillard about consumer society Part 1

Interestingly: before read Baudrillard life gave me another epigraph, from the thick of my own. I involuntarily overheard the reasoning of the young salesman: “I took off the corner. Now only the mattress and comp buy. What else is needed?”

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Baudrillard created this book in the late 1960s, in the pre Internet era, although the “com” has already been mentioned as an ideal model of existence in a consumption society (hereinafter CS), that is, being in the world of things and people who have become signs, and being, therefore, quite virtual.

So, first of all the well-known. The steady economic growth of the 1960s gave rise to euphoria in Western society. However, even then not everyone believed that modern technologies would ensure the satisfaction of the needs of any and every one. Even then, others objected reasonably: the cheese in this new mousetrap is not free, and the mousetrap itself is quite tight.

Student unrest in May 1968 in Paris, so sudden and so stormy, confirmed this. On the white clothes of the CS, this realized idyll, the first indecent spots appeared.

Jean Jacques Baudrillard devoted this and his despair to the sad and biting book.

What is the notorious CS, the author says on the very first page (and perhaps, for ages): “The consumption society is where not only there are objects and goods that wish to buy, but where consumption itself is consumed in the form of a myth” (p. 3).

Immediately make a reservation: J. Baudrillard considers not so much the needs of “natural”, how many exactly those, thanks to which (according to Shakespeare) we are made people. And these needs, he argues (however, he is not the first, and not the first!) Have a social nature. Actually, they are inherent not to us, but to the society, which imposes on them powerfully (although at times surreptitiously).

Nothing new in this, as if, no. Unless, in the spirit of post structuralism, Baudrillard calls these needs “signs” of social status and modus, so to speak, vivendi.

And the new begins here with what.

First, Baudrillard debunks the myth of CS as consumer society. What kind of abundance can there be if the overwhelming majority of its members feel the eternal, insatiable hunger of the consumer, after all, one must necessarily buy something and that, go there and there, be aware of that and that in order to “fit”, that is, be competitive and A successful member of society, loser, sludge, “village.”

So, if anyone knew the contentment from abundance, they are Paleolithic people who did not even get too zealous even with a roof over their heads.

So, with all its external wealth, CS wants and thirsts, and it cannot be saturated in any way simply by definition, because itself, as the body excrement, produces more and more new needs (in the form of fashion, gadgets, etc.). That production, this heart steel, goldbearing, not boldly stop! Society itself feeds this hunger, at times deceiving itself, whipping it with new image games, cluttering the planet with waste, forcing wasteful waste of still completely usable things in the name of the euphoria of consumption. Euphoria, a race like squirrel in the wheel and the appetite of a severe diabetic.

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Secondly, the inexorable Frenchman debunks the basic social idea of the CS apologists, according to which saturation with goods, abundance will lead to social equality (the views of JK Galbraith and others). Not at all, says Baudrillard. CS cannot exist without an outstripping growth of needs, which is provided by the presence of social inequality. Without the “top” and “bottom” there would be no movement of blood flow. True, the top, the elite of the CS is not only and even not so much just rich people as the people who have the most important convertible currencies in the CS, namely: power, knowledge, culture and information. They set the tone in consumption, dictate fashion, and already behind them (never, however, not catching up) follows the middle and lower strata of society.

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