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We Need to Become Citizens Again

Do you remember what it means to be a citizen?  Or is this concept now a vestige of the Cold War, dropped and forgotten (along with Comrade and concerns about nuclear war)?  Today we are almost exclusively seen as, and see ourselves as, consumers.  In other words, agents of capitalism.

As consumers we have a duty to – you guessed it – consume.  As consumers, we not only buy into the concept, but are both the proponents and recipients of the consumption process.  We are the grease in the wheels of capitalism.

But while we may grease the system, we certainly don’t have any control over it.  This “voting with your wallet”  argument is a ruse, a means of duping us into thinking that we an change the world by shopping.  And who doesn’t like shopping?  We are by our very nature hunters and gatherers, which has taken on a whole new meaning in the age of big box discount stores.

But it is not possible to save the world through shopping. And at this point, I it’s too late to save the world though our own small acts, much as I was hoping that would be the case.  Eating locally, avoiding driving and carrying around cloth bags is not nearly enough.  Heck, living totally off grid isn’t going to be enough.  At this point, political action is necessary: holding our governments accountable and forcing them to make the corporations behave.  If that can even be done.  Corporations now comprise more than 50% of the top 100 global economies.  In other words, Corporations are more powerful than 150 out of the 200 countries we have on this plant.  That leaves very few nations in a position to be able to do anything.  Canada is one such nation, and we need to get out of our armchairs and off our computers and demand change in the real world.  Now.  Yesterday in fact.  It’s much, much later than we think…

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3 Responses

  1. voting with your wallet, my in-laws are here (for 3 weeks) and my mother-in-law loves to shop. She would gladly hit up every wal-mart and dollar store from Ottawa to Pembroke and back. They have been here nearly a week, and I haven’t let her go shopping yet. I also haven’t let her take over my kitchen yet (that’s ANOTHER rant altogether). Anyhow she is twisting. Whenever my mother in law travels, she likes to look at the sites, but she HAS to shop. Her house in England is sooo packed with things, she doesn’t need anything else. And a lot of it is crap. Crap that she would love to share with me….except I’m difficult….I do shop with my wallet, mostly food, and I’m picky about what I buy. I’d love to see politics take on the dollar store, wal-mart, imported crap that no one needs. So my bit for England is to reduce my mother-in-law’s compulsive need to shop at those places while on holiday. The Queen can thank me later for not allowing more usless, crap into the country. I’m not a politician, but I can control my wallet, most of the time 😉

    glad to see the move went well
    Amanda

  2. Thanks for the excellent video link! As an original 60’s hippie I understood the disaster that the corporations were taking us towards. Corporations are given the rights of people but not the responsibilities. They are criminally short sighted and founded upon a flawed symbolic economic theory rather than reality, compassion, and foresight.

    I’m struggling with the depression of wanting to ‘save the world’ but failing to convince even my closest family and friends that there is actually a problem. The increasing interchange of top corporate employees with top government positions has turned most governments into nothing more than branch plants designed to support corporate growth. I despair that governments have also slipped into short term vision, focused only upon their own personal next election and the financial support required for that goal.

    I still have hope, but it’s a daily challenge not to give up.

    • Hi Al –
      I can totally relate. I also have had little influence on most of my friends and family, although some have made some wonderful steps towards change, such as by planting a garden or shopping at farmers markets. It is very scary to watch the world hurtling towards possible self-destruction seemingly with complete abandon. I alternate regularly between hope and despair.

      Right now I am surrounded by people working towards change so that keeps me hopeful much of the time. But when I leave this small circle I am always shocked to (re)discover ‘reality’. Just this week I went into a shopping mall for the first time in ages. I ended up walking around in a daze, mesmerized by the mountains of useless crap for sale, wondering who on earth would want the vast majority of it.

      I don’t know what the answer is. Changing my own way of living is a good step, but I know it’s not nearly enough.

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