Materialism and the Consumer

23 Mar, 2000 330 Economics

Melvyn Bragg examines materialism and the consumer. Does consumerism - as a cult, a fact, a need, a religion - threaten culture as we have known it, individuality as we desire it, life as we aspire to its best condition? Is the march of Mammon an army of jack-booted businessmen, using the propaganda of advertising and the seduction of the supermarket to trample us into submission, and into the worshipping of the great god - Buy? Or is the consumer the new source of power? A truer, more democratic individual freedom? Wordsworth prophesied much current criticism of consumerism when he wrote “The world is too much with us; late and soon,/getting and spending we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours:/We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”. How has ‘getting and spending’ come to enjoy the place of importance it holds in our lives, and why have we so often seen shopping as in opposition to some notion of our ‘true natures’?

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Are we in the thrall of consumer culture, hopelessly manipulated by materialism, or has the market developed to better the condition, liberate even, the situation of man and woman?