Consumerism in Christmas: a stark reminder of how Capitalism got into crisis
Even a great Christmas shopping period will not help global economies that are to all intents and purposes on the verge of meltdown
America was gripped with scenes of pepper spray, gunfire and mass chaos without an Occupy protest in sight. In this the season of goodwill to all men American, shoppers fought with each other and the police to get their hands on a pair of shoes. The shoes in question were a retro version of the classic Nike Air Max Jordon, first released in the 1990’s. Twenty years ago there were reports of violence when people wearing the trainers were mugged for them, nothing much has changed in that time.
The kind of behaviour witnessed across America is not unique to just wanting a pair of shoes. A trip to any Western high street or shopping mall will undoubtedly result in meeting frustrated and hyperactive shoppers, it is especially true at Christmas. The need to find the right gift, the basic human instinct of want overcomes all other civilized human traits. All this at a time of deep economic strife, with the likelihood of a double dip recession around the corner.
At a time when religion is generally shunned in Western society, Christmas has become more and more secular. To the point that the religious aspects of a Christian Christmas are alien to most. The old Christian ideas of giving have been replaced by the Capitalist ideas of getting what you want, epitomised by Santa Claus – created as a marketing stunt by Coca Cola – bearing gifts and festivities. The reality is there is no Father Christmas so what remains is the bearing of gifts for all and sundry. Anyone would think consumerism was the God of Christmas and Santa the embodiment of the Capitalist ideal.
With world economies struggling to fulfill the Capitalist mantra of constant and never-ending growth, scenes of semi-psychotic shoppers hide the true state of the economy whilst laying bare the state of society.
For the last few years governments across the western world have been trying to ‘kick start’ their restive economies. An economic need brought on by global recession, shrinking economies and sharp rises in unemployment. This is the reality crazy shoppers cannot hide. Even a great Christmas and post-Christmas shopping period will not help global economies that are to all intents and purposes on the verge of meltdown. The true irony is that the evangelical Capitalists who for decades have been preaching free markets to the developing world as a method to pull people out of poverty are today lost for answers.
With many in the Western world losing their homes, business and dignity to the failure of Capitalism it is absurd to see people fighting to buy a pair of Nike Air. Just like those caught in the Hollywood created Matrix the average person is unable to tear themselves away from the lure of consumerism. This due to the mindless materialistic culture created by Capitalism and its notions of civility.
Those at the Occupy protests across the world may articulate a more restrained form of Capitalism for the world, bemoaning the power of the corporate elite. However society is at such a low ebb that any level of regulation and ideological tweaking will not fix the problem.
The Christmas period for those at home in their snug Nike trainers, those homeless due to mortgage arrears and those still fighting corporate greed, will in one stark way be the same. It will for a few days numb them from the reality of ideology on the downward spiral to collapse. They will hope that the inebriation of the post-turkey drinking will make them forget the woes of the world in which they live.
This just like Christmas itself will be nothing more than a temporary escape from the reality of an ideology slowly choking its own adherents to a miserable existence. Political systems, societal values and ideological concepts are there to provide a sense of purpose to the masses. Not replace the air they breath with the Air in a pair of Nike.