banner mailscene luxmachina marginalia bookskellar lobbies kiosk


THE REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE - VANEIGEM
The Age of Happiness - Page 32

A Ford worker summed up his difference of opinion with the B.F.Skinners, Doxiadis', Lord Robenses, Norbert Weiners and other watchdogs of the future in the following terms: Since 1936 I have been fighting for higher wages. My father before me fought for higher wages. I've got a TV, a fridge and a Cortina. If you ask me it's been a dog's life from start to finish."

In action, as in words, the new poetry just doesn't get on with the Welfare State.

2

In the kingdom of consumption the citizen is king. A democratic monarchy: equality before consumption, fraternity in consumption, and freedom through consumption. The dictatorship of consumer goods has finally destroyed the barriers of blood, lineage and race; this would be good cause for celebration were it not that consumption, by its logic of things, forbids all qualitative difference and recognizes only differences of quantity between values and between men. The distance has not changed between those who possess a lot and those who possess a small but ever-increasing amount; but the intermediate stages have multiplied, and have, so to speak, brought the two extremes, rulers and ruled, closer to the same centre of mediocrity. To be rich nowadays merely means to possess a large number of poor objects.

Consumer goods are tending to lose all use-value. Their nature is to be consumable at all costs. (Recall the recent vogue of the nothing-box in the USA: an object which cannot be used for anything at all.) And as General Eisenhower so candidly explained, the present economic system can only be rescued by turning man into a consumer, by identifying him with the largest possible number of consumable values, which is to say, non-values, or empty, fictitious, abstract values. After being the most precious kind of capital", in Stalin's happy phrase, man must now become the most valued of consumer goods. The stereotyped images of the star, the poor man, the communist, the murderer-for-love, the law-abiding-citizen, the rebel, the bourgeois, will replace man, putting in his place a system of multicopy categories arranged according to the irrefutable logic of robotisation. Already the idea of 'teenager' tends to define the buyer in conformity with the product he buys, to reduce his variety to a varied but limited range of objects in the shops, (Records, guitars, Levis...). You are no longer as old as you feel or as old as you look, but as old as what you buy. The time of production-society where 'time is money' will give way to the Time of consumption, measured in terms of products bought, worn out and thrown away: a Time of premature old age, which is the eternal youth of trees and stones.

The truth of the concept of immiseration has been demonstrated today not, as Marx expected, in the field of goods necessary for survival, since these, far from becoming scarce, have become more and more abundant; but rather in relation to survival itself, which is always the enemy of real life.

Scenewash Kiosk | Lobbies | Marginalia | Luxmachina | Rhesus Pride
Lily Artwatcher | Chainthinker | Situationist | Bookskellar | Mailscene

  REL Index.


It is on along the sleepy Anacostia River in the District of Columbia, USA. You are viewing this page using and your IP Address is .

'XusNET and the Scenewash Project 20003 originate in the Capitol Hill/Stadium Armory section of Washington, DC.