The anti-consumer brigade thinks there is a fairer, more rational, alternative to capitalism just round the corner. There isn't - Daniel Finkelstein in The Times.
What - exactly - is consumerism? I've been bumbling along for ages, too embarrassed to ask, but this morning, as the City protesters search the hall cupboard for their missing balaclavas and prepare to set off, I feel I need to know. It must mean something, mustn't it, since so many people seem to be against it.
I know what a consumer is, obviously. And consumption (it's what Keats died of). But consumerism? I have never heard anyone say that they believe in consumerism, only people who say that they don't. If there really is such a thing as consumerism, where are the consumerites with their placards and seaside conferences?
So when people - archbishops, G20 demonstrators, the preposterous psychologist Oliver James - attack consumerism, and as the credit crunch brings them bigger audiences and more credibility, I think they are really attacking something far more banal. I think they are dressing up their assault in fancy language - like undergraduates who get involved in college politics and start calling themselves student unionists - to make a prosaic idea sound impressive.
I think that they have looked back at 5,000 years of human history - at pestilence and famine and disease and degradation, at genocide and civil war, at fear and loathing, at bigotry and ignorance, chauvinism and dictatorship - and concluded that our biggest problem is... shopping.
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