Consumerism is the tacitly accepted ideology of the modern welfare state, and entails, at bottom, a general cultural fixation on the purchase of goods without relation to the production of those goods or any other — it is an attempt to avoid thinking about production as necessary for consumption, or production as something consumers must be expected at some point personally to consider.

As such it is unrealistic. But it has very real effects. The general trend is decadence, moral degradation, and the promotion of a flabby, meaningless existence for the many while the productive classes toil, and the redistributive elites grow rich.

Commercial society makes an important first step with the rise of money, allowing the efficiency of economic calculation to dominate via trade distribution. But that is not consumerism, despite the encouragement of the growth of all kinds of consumer goods. Nevertheless, the idea of consuming without producing arises, in the capitalist context, in the family and other non-market organizations. And from there consumerism grows.

In non-market relationships and institutions we see a producer “on the market” trade wealth for other wealth, thereby growing wealth. The producer reaches outside the organization, while other members of the relationship, institution or group distribute the wealth gained from the designated producer’s market activity and distribute it in esoteric (in-group) fashion. The classic case is the family, where one spouse (usually the husband/father) goes out and produces in market activity, while the other (usually the wife) spends it for the benefit of the children. The children are thus consumers without being producers. This is the psychological basis for the mythic archetype of welfare state capitalism: classes of capitalists, entrepreneurs, and laborers produce stuff that we “the people” consume. And with the welfare state, the non-market distribution kicks in on a societal level: producers are taxed so others may consume.

And it is in the consumerist society that we see the consumption of goods as what we have rights to. Not rights as individuals, or producers, but as consumers.

This feeds the general trend of social decadence where childhood extends into, first, the teenage years, and then into the 20s; and, from the other end, from death bed backwards to “retirement,” something guaranteed by Social Security (not by family, church or past wealth accumulation): old people have been made children with no responsibilities to society other than consuming . . . and voting to keep the system going.

The ridiculousness of this system is largely lost on its participants.

Remember socialism and its compromise version, progressivism?

Socialism began as a workers’ movement. But it survived in the west as a trust fund movement (college student movement) and is now all about the rights of consumers to consume medical products and services, and food, and clothing, and housing, and cell phones.

UBI is its latest advanced step.

Consumerism is capitalism infantilized by the State.

The system still depends upon production, of course. All social systems must. But whereas progressives used to know that productive people were key, they increasingly forget that. Progressives being institutionally protected, by tax-funded subsidies and institutions and all the NGOs and 501(c)3’s that feed on the grants sector, riding as parasitic upon production. Progressives these days see producers now as oppressors, not benefactors.

An amazing degradation of attitude.

Ayn Rand tried to rescue a producerist theme, but that flops because she did not make it very clear that the ideal person unites — integrates — production and consumption in his own life. The classic producerist ideology is Puritanism. And as formulated, producerism must be as lopsided as consumerism.

Consumerism presents a “contradiction” of late-stage churning-state capitalism. Proudhon did not see it coming, but the ideal take-down of the ideology might be in a form reminiscent of Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty. Might be worth a shot, eh?

What might one call such a treatise? The Philosophy of Greed & Mania: A System of Economic Contradictions has a ring to it.

Whatever the social complexion of consumerism turns out to be, the moral effects on the human soul generally unfits people to be free and autonomous beings. Under consumerism being free means having access to “free stuff.” Absence of coercion? Moral autonomy? Personal heroism? What do they have to do with eating, drinking, and amusements?

And of course under consumerism, “having sex” is a consumer activity by “right,” not a production activity by nature, making abortion absolutely key to carrying on the great cause of consumption.