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Myra Bronstein
12-07-2008, 04:27 PM
I friggin love this post from Daily Kos. It's related to my main 911 epiphany which occurred when the world trade center imploded and George W. Bush told us to "go shopping."

That made things crystal clear. So does this:


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/12/7/93058/4721/916/670306

Buddha Says Don't Buy Stuff

by undercovercalico (http://undercovercalico.dailykos.com/)

Sun Dec 07, 2008 at 06:35:54 AM PST

Over at Adbusters (http://www.adbusters.org/features/what_would_buddha_buy.html), a current article suggests that Buddha wouldn't buy much for Christmas....
What would the Buddha buy? Not too much, not too little. Picture him with his own reusable grocery bag slung over his shoulder, talking to a shopper about making mindful choices: "Do you really need it?" "Where does it come from?" "How will it affect the environment when you’re done?" He might have enjoyed celebrating International Buy Nothing Day on November 29 as a spiritual retreat from frantic holiday shopping
Not a message the panicked retailers want you to inhale. Despite the fact that Americans are losing their jobs and losing their houses, the retailers want you to buy stuff. I even want to buy stuff buying stuff creates a false sense of well being. Yes. I still matter in this crazy capitalist world if I can buy stuff. After all one of the most oft repeated myths of Reaganism is that his administration promoted a consumer driven recovery. We were supposed to fight back against terrorism by buying stuff. Because of course the terrorists hate us for our malls so if we were using them we had to be enveloped in some mass resistance. And what would be the point to a mythical economic recovery: yes we would be able to buy stuff again.
With Dharma, a marketplace can be seen as an opportunity to practice mindfulness, rather than mindless consumption. Nothing exotic – we do it every day. In each advertisement and at each potential point of purchase is a karmic choice, the opportunity to practice wise compassion for the universal human condition. The bodhisattva shopper vows to consider all beings.
The problem is Americans aren't wired that way. Those of us who escape the ravages of this ongoing economic shrivel are likely to go back to our old habits. The only people who will learn something are the ones who end up permanently displaced and those will be the exact group nobody wants to hear from. Just to negative. Especially in a nation so bleakly defined by winners and losers. Indeed, the new "class war" might not end up being waged against Wall street, or "the rich" or corporate America but the dumbass people who took the sub-prime mortgages or bought houses that took up too much of their income. No doubt that will be the language of a resurgent Republicanism. Some people just didn't have the right to assume they could get in on the game of American consumerism. And look they dragged us all down.

The new "belt tightening" ethic will be popular for as long as it takes for us to loosen the belts again and then will be viewed quaintly like war rationing. I have certain advantages over the younger people I work with, I grew up in a tight budget household. Not poor, just tight. And I had some extended semi poverty as an adult which had the unfortunate effect of creating an intense fear of ending up that way again. For me it wasn't the inability to buy stuff that hurt, it was the social isolation. Indeed, the social isolation that seeps in can be almost as damaging as the lack itself.
Americans have been trained in the post WWII era to define social success wedded to economic success, the ability to buy stuff, more stuff. Constantly.

In actuality, the successful folks in this transition will be the ones who manage to find personal meaning and satisfaction outside that sphere. In psychological terms, those who are resilient. People like our grandparents who in many ways survived by rejecting capitalism, by bartering, re-making old things, and teaching one another sustainable skills. My grandmother didn't know anybody who wasn't poor in the pre war days so there was no particular stigma attached to it.

However, capitalist growth has also taught us social notions and among them is an abiding fear of the "poor". Capitalist ideology requires the creation of that anxiety as a norm in order to further consumption. Hegemony rests upon anxiety, fear, and the need to achieve in order to be judged acceptable by others. Nobody in the MSM is seriously suggesting that capitalism itself is a problem, or that sustainable economies might be key to long term survival. Well. Somebody might but they will inevitably be on the unemployment line with you and I.

But imagine the terror that could be inflicted on elites if this Christmas nobody shopped unless it was for somebody who actually needed something, a warm coat, some new shoes, even a prescription they couldn't afford.

If we just bailed done another out, what would happen? Of course apart from spreading a new consciousness we could also find ourselves in government camps charged with treason for refusing to buy because that threatens the existing order a lot more than another terrorist attack which we have all been ominously told is right around the corner.

If you want to be a freedom fighter, make your sister in law some homemade jam and pass on the crap made in some slave labor factory overseas. And then keep doing it even after we have been told the second coming of capitalism has finally arrived.

Damien Lloyd
01-18-2009, 09:13 AM
-For me it wasn't the inability to buy stuff that hurt, it was the social isolation. Indeed, the social isolation that seeps in can be almost as damaging as the lack itself.
Americans have been trained in the post WWII era to define social success wedded to economic success, the ability to buy stuff, more stuff. Constantly.


I live in a capitalist society and yet have trouble relating to the above. The idea of feeling some form of social isolation due to an inability to own the newest and latest stuff just seems incredibly immature. In fact I can honestly say that it's a feeling I haven't experienced since I was at school when a new pair of Nike's came out that the other kids had and I didn't. As a parent it's something I've seen with my own daughter too, but again it becomes less of a problem with each passing year.
Of course later I found out about Nike sweatshops and didn't want the bloody things anyway, giving me the opportunity to turn the tables on my fellows and verbally bash them for supporting such things.

The article is great but that one bit really stood out. Have I discovered a defining difference in culture between the US and UK? Or have I simply never had enough stuff, or peers with a lot more stuff who would be likely to make me feel like they were somehow judging me.

Ok guys state your country and experiences and thoughts on social isolation, I could write a paper on this ;)