This was written by my friend Meg Park.
Why they call us consumers. Let us look at economic theory for a moment to help us understand how that word came to be what refers to a class of people that has turned into a movement. "Consumer" is an economic term of objectification that refers to using people as a means to an end.
It is no surprise to anyone that we live in a capitalist culture. What many people believe is that this capitalist culture is based in supply and demand. Originally, capitalism began this way. There was a grape harvest of very low yield in northern and easter Europe many centuries ago. Two Scotsmen who had emmigrated to France bought some French farm land. They planted some grapes. They saw this shortage as an opportunity. They harvested their fruit, made their wine, but did not sell it. They released it gradually after a time, testing the market to see what it would bear. How much would people who drank wine every day pay for a little wine when there was almost no wine availabe? The price people were willing to pay gradually increased the longer the wine was scarce. The two Scotsmen manipulated the market, taking themselves from two former peasants to two very wealthy capitalist. They were the first capitalist speculators. The end of the dark ages began. No more would royalty and the church be the only ones holding all the economic cards to the good life. The Enlightenment was around the corner. Equality would fuel rebellions and revolutions for cenuries to come.
Some would have us believe that this supply and demand style of economics is still what drives our economy today. For some things it still does. Mostly though, the situation has changed. We have firmly entered the age of a different kind of capitalism. Today what drives the economy is Wall Street. We all know this. We know that what sells stocks is ever increasing profits.More and more consumers buying whatever it is that is being sold. It is not good enough for your stock offering to remain the same for more than a quarter or two. Investors want to see movement. If your stock doesn't move from $50 to $52 or $55 soon, investors or their agents will take their money from your business and move it to where they speculate it will grow.
How can a company keep that price of stock up? Well, profits must be kept increasing. This causes constantly reducing the quality of the item or service and/or reducing labor costs. What else? Well, if you can get people to buy more and more of your product or service it will constantly increase the value of your stock. This is consumer based economics. Get people to buy more. Create ever increasing demand.
If you can't build a better mouse trap, import more mouses. If that doesn't work induce mouse-phobia! Make people afraid not to have mouse traps! Call in antimouse advocates, orgainize an American Mousetrap Association, a National Association of Mousetrap Manufacturers, lobby congress for legislation so every family can be tested for mouse phobia, and so much more. The way to get mousetraps into every home in the Western world is only limited by the genious of those who can market mousetraps and fear of mice. Play on peoples fears, convince them their very survival depends on equiping themseves with the newest mousetrap. Convince parents that to be a morally viable parent they must instill this fear in their children and protect them!
Above all, find those most vulnerable to exploit. Find a whole population and treat them as a means to an end. Build into their lifestyle the need for your product. Instituionalize the need that you have manufactured.Those who seek vainly for their own well-being will become your greatest resource.
Refuse to be called a consumer. It is a set up. Be a man, a woman, person, a client, even a patient. But refuse to be identified as the means, the resource to be used for their end result of ever increasing profit margins. Refuse this label of exploitation. Correct people when they call you and those you advocate for as "consumers". This is a human rights movement and we are humans first. Let them know you know "consumer" is an economic term of objectification. Refuse to be objectified and used as an means to their end. (italics and bold type are mine)