In this article I try to diagnose the modern human condition but from a different perspective. I discuss three different purposes (ways) of life that occurred throughout history.
1. The Past
People had one purpose of life or one goal and that was to please their lord, whether that lord was their king, god or demigod. Religion with it’s own philosophy, ethical rules and rituals was the driving force that shaped their everyday life. It was also the bond to which people pledge allegiance to.
2. The French Revolution
This type of bond worked very well in uniting the masses until the French revolution came a and swapped pleasing the lord as a goal of a nation with pleasing the country, or in another words nationalism. Which served as a pseudo religion, having it’s own ethical rules and ceremonies.
Even the religious duality of believers and disbelievers was mapped in nationalism as The countries’ celebrated citizens VS the rest of the scorned upon world.The goal of every citizen or his main duty was the the patriotic duty which is sacrificing everything, even religion, for the nation and the country and serve and fight for them.
People still practised their previous religion but now it was a subjective thing that must be confined only to an individual’s private and family life and religious ideas and philosophies should not interfere in the socio-political life because that is now the sole job of nationalism.
3. The Current Situation ( After WWII )
For two centuries nationalism worked as the factor that unites the nation but after WWII young people where tired from all of the wars, they were not all enthusiastic about getting into more wars and really began to question the reality of their sense of nationalism.
The western governments noticed the decline in the citizens degree of loyalty to the country and they didn’t like this at all especially the USA because it had no common ancestry,
Common descent, common blood, or an attachment to the soil. So it took the advice of Edward Bernays the father of public relations and propaganda who was also the nephew of Sigmund Freud. To know how influntial Bernays is, here are some of his achievements:
- Established the foundation for mass acceptance of women smoking in public. which was a major taboo at his time.
- Made bacon and eggs the All-American breakfast meal.
- Broke the taboo of men dancing ballet.
He helped the US government in changing the people’s mentality to find a new bond that will unite the nation. Well how did he do this ?
He believed that he could change people’s behaviour, and spending patterns, if he linked products to emotional needs and desires. He helped shift the society from a needs-based culture to a wants-driven consumer culture.
Instead of marketing products based on their features, and capabilities like all companies did before WWII..He added meaning to these products, he used celebrities, symbolism, and association of products (cars, clothes) with emotional and social meaning. So now no longer was a car just a simple form of transportation, it was a symbol of masculine man power and sexuality. No longer were clothes protection from the cold, they became expressions of one’s individuality and personality.In his 1947 book titled “The engineering of consent” he said:
The engineering of consent is the very essence of the democratic process, the freedom to persuade and suggest.
The Economist Victor Lebow noticed this sudden change of attitude of the masses where he stated in his well know article in 1955 “The Real Meaning of Consumer Demand”:
“Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate”
So Is this our new religion our way of life our purpose of life??
To consume till we get consumed ?
Has the human race evolved to such extent that spiritual satisfaction is granted on the consumption of product rather on the contribution of good deeds to the society.
It makes me sad, but it’s true.
The main problem is that this sick mentality forces itself on our everyday social life including what we wear, drive, eat at home, our pattern of food serving and our hobbies…this ugly Market mentality that transforms everything into a usable product for temporary usage thats why We are obsessed with nouns instead of verbs as Ivan Illich says.
We allow ourselves to be convinced that having is more important than doing
We materialize our conscious..and turn it into a substance, we cant just look an admire something because we the think with the mentality of ownership. “Possessing,” “holding,” and “seizing”. And that’s why every verb becomes a noun in a consumer society, for ex:
- “I want to learn” is translated into “I want to get an education”
- “I want to walk” is restated as “I need transportation”
- “lets make love” is translated to “lets have sex”
The English language now is very product based..it’s sad.
That’s why other languages can express situations more elegantly than new english.
The consumer society is the philosophy of “the more you consume the more successful you are ” This culture was cloned from the USA to europe in the early 1960s.
The consumer culture that Bernays helped to create has only grown over the decades, and today we have a society that only wants more and more.
Oh dear ! you Feel bad? well,Go shopping for some new clothes. Want to feel more sophisticated? Buy the right furniture.
Even the doctors don’t diagnose us anymore they just try to see which pill suits us the best, the don’t tell us for example:
Please stop eating fast food and make some morning excerises each day and keep your sugar low
Well you won’t hear this these days, what you will hear is:
“Take this description of pills and go to the pharmacy !”
The doctor treats you as a product and not as complex being.
The Perfect Consumer
Let me ask you a question, what kind of consumer do the fat CEOs in wall street dream you to be ?
Well, of course they you to be a sheep..yes a SHEEP !
They want you to be simple and predictable. So that when they invent a new product and they tell you
YOU NEED IT..YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT..ALL THE CELEBRITIES ARE WEARING IT !!”
you will say yes of course I need it !
Dear reader..please you must know this:
“The man who has no inner life is the slave of his surroundings.”
A man with no values is the perfect consumer, as the market can shape him like a mold..and force him to desire things he doesnt’ need, he doesnt have the force to say no.
They call this person in marketting “The one dimensional man” who can be controlled easily
as his future decisions can be predicted perfectly or more simply said:
The above examples are simple one dimensional creatures whose desires will only revolve around 3 or 4 things at max.
The CEOs hate religious people because religious people may say no thank you I don’t need this product Alhamdulah what I already have suits me well. The fox is never stupid, now you will see a very materialistic form of Islam or Christianity a one that says if you consume more that is a sign of blessing a sign that God loves you !
So let us all have values and print them on our hearts. If we don’t have a value then we are just numbers to be counted in summing up the population.
We work and struggle for many years to acquire “Things” we are told we need. After these years there is still an emptiness and lack of meaning that causes people to strike out against themselves and all kinds of social and economical problems occur.
Next time you see a commercial don’t say “I Need this”, say the company “Wants Me to Need This”..you don’t actually need it, because it’s a luxury. Burn all your beauty magazines. Wear what makes your body tune with your heart and not what the Marketing Engineers tell you too.
We spend too much time working on jobs we don’t like to buy things we don’t need trying to impress people we don’t know..SERIOUSLY !
Thank your reading the article, I hope to have helped one reader in thinking about this matter.
1. The Decline of Nationalisms within western Europe
2. Edward Bernays,Homeless Men, and Consumer Culture.