- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Human Nature is Bollocks

Posted by: septimus ( Aus ) on November 03, 1999 at 13:44:34:

I have a major problem with this idea of 'human nature'. That is that there is some undeniable force pushing us towards a consumer driven free-market economy and hang the consequences. It seems to me that people are for the most part driven by their social conditioning.

A person who grew up during the Great Depression would appear to be less likely to indulge in the mass throw-away consumerism than their children or grand children. This is because during the formative years of their life much greater value was attatched to the available money, if something was useable you kept using it - you didn't throw it out when it came out in a new colour (I know that my grandparents buy things to last and look after them irrespective of changing fashions). Post-depression generations are used to an environment of plenty in which paper, petrol, plastic, cars, washing machines are all designed to be used and discarded. Electronic goods have built in use-by dates and everything is wrapped in disposable plastic.No only are we exposed to this but we are told that it is Good. The Australian economy is only as successful as it is because of consumer spending. If everybody started spending in the same way as my grandparents the world's economies would be stuffed. This is because it depends entirely on the buy and discard model of good citizenship.The Japanese economy is fucked. How does the government deal with this? Ad campaigns telling people that it is their civic duty to spend more money, buy more things.
Somethings gotta give.

Feudal peasants, for the most part, accepted their "natural" place in the order of things. After the second world war a majority of Germans said that they would be indifferent to another attempt by the Nazis to take power. So much for natural desires for political freedom.

Everything changes with changing circumstances. People can only understand their place and role in society through education. If we had the resources we could educate the next generation of children to be radical action environmentalists (if we thought that this was a desireable end)and they would accept this as 'Human Nature'.
We can make people believe anything we want them to. What do we want them to believe?

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