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Consumerism

  • ... in the comparatively short time between my childhood and my daughter's, the business society has ceased urging people to produce and is now exerting its very considerable influence to get them to consume.

  • We get a deal o' useless things about us, only because we've got the money to spend.

  • Historians differ on when the consumer culture came to dominate American culture. Some say it was in the twenties, when advertising became a major industry and the middle class bought radios to hear the ads and cars to get to the stores. ... But there is no question that the consumer culture had begun to crowd out all other cultural possibilities by the years following World War II.

  • Some people make stuff; other people have to buy it. And when we gave up making stuff, starting in the 1980s, we were left with the unique role of buying. ... we shopped till we dropped, all right, face down on the floor.

  • One of the problems with industrialism is that it's based on the premise of more and more. It has to keep expanding to keep going. More and more television sets. More and more cars. More and more steel, and more and more pollution. We don't question whether we need any more or what we'll do with them. We just have to keep on making more and more if we are to keep going. Sooner or later it's going to collapse. ... Look what we have done already with the principle of more and more when it comes to nuclear weapons.

    • Dora Russell,
    • in Dale Spender, There's Always Been a Women's Movement This Century ()
  • Throughout their lives, women try to pummel their bodies into some phantom ideal shape that exists only with a lot of airbrushing. ... I don't blame men for this. Men seem to go for us no matter what size and shape we are. I blame capitalism. No, really. The consumer must constantly be in a state of anxious low self-esteem so that she will constantly buy lipsticks and girdles to make her feel cuter.

  • An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.

  • ... the pyramids were built for pharaohs on the happy theory that they could take their stuff with them. Versailles was built for kings on the theory that they should live surrounded by the finest stuff. The Mall of America is built on the premise that we should all be able to afford this stuff. It may be a shallow culture, but it's by-God democratic. Sneer if you dare; this is something new in world history.

  • I have been to the pyramids of America. I have seen the cathedral of commerce. Our Parthenon, our Coliseum, our Chartres. I have been to the Mall of America, the world's largest shopping mall.

  • One set of messages of the society we live in is: Consume. Grow. Do what you want. Amuse yourselves.

  • The consumer today is the victim of the manufacturer who launches on him a regiment of products for which he must make room in his soul.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "America the Beautiful: The Humanist in the Bathtub" (1947), On the Contrary ()
  • Life is complicated, and the consumer cult of infinite choice has made it more so.

  • Of course advertising creates wants. Of course it makes people discontented, dissatisfied. Satisfaction with things as they are would defeat the American dream.

  • Advertising prods people into wanting more and better things. Of course advertising makes people dissatisfied with what they have — makes them raise their sights. Mighty good thing it does. Nothing could be worse for the United States than 200,000,000 satisfied Americans.

  • Consumerism is our national religion.

  • Uncontrollable consumerism has become a watchword of our culture despite regular and compelling calls for its end. The United States has more malls than high schools; Americans spend more time shopping than reading. ... Some of the most insightful writing about the American character over the nation's history has been about neither freedom nor democracy but about the crazed impulse to acquire things.

  • If only the people were as fed up with mass commercialism as they supposedly are with politics and the press. That sort of disgust will take generations, if it comes at all — that would be true revolution in America.

  • ... I think it's funny that people are always saying that our culture is oversexualized, because I think we're totally undersexualized. All we are is overcommercialized.

  • ... consumption can be very harmful to the world. I'm not a big proponent of the idea that consumption makes you morally bad, but there are consequences to our acts, and those consequences are environmental degradation and the huge social inequalities that make our standard of living in the United States possible.

  • Cosmetics today are big business — very big business. ... Success is based on the simple premise that if it's a question of being attractive and fashionable, you can sell people anything.

  • ... we were raising our standard of living at the expense of our standard of character.

  • America is a consumer culture, and when we change what we buy — and how we buy it — we'll change who we are.

  • The next time you go shopping, demand more change.

  • ... I believe that conventional marketing techniques are increasingly ineffective. Customers are hyped out. They have been overmarketed. They are becoming more cynical about the whole advertising and marketing process.

  • Don't underestimate the power of the vigilante consumer.

  • We go on multiplying our conveniences only to multiply our cares. We increase our possessions only to the enlargement of our anxieties.

  • Its total message seems to be: 'Use more things, want more things, other people have more things so why not you, because on the multiplicity of your material wants and your success in satisfying them depends your happiness and the greatness of your nation.'

  • These ways to make people buy were strange and new to us, and many bought for the sheer pleasure at first of holding in the hand and talking of something new. And once this was done, it was like opium, we could no longer do without this new bauble, and thus, though we hated the foreigners and though we knew they were ruining us, we bought their goods. Thus I learnt the art of the foreigners, the art of creating in the human heart restlessness, disquiet, hunger for new things, and these new desires became their best helpers.

  • Consumerism is what physical lust is really about.

  • ... if we center our lives on BMWs, RVs, VCRs, PCs and the other acronyms of consumerism, we cannot expect our children to do otherwise.

  • Necessity need not be the mother of invention, but today invention becomes the mother of necessity. Our affluent society is preoccupied with the production and compulsive consumption of material goods we have been taught to want.

  • Small wastebasket liners, $1.17 ... tall wastebasket liners, $2.29 ... garbage can liners, $3.98 ... I think I just spent $7.44 buying something I'm going to throw away.

  • ... the metabolism of a consumer society requires it continually to eat and excrete, every day throwing itself away in plastic bags.

  • The other day I bought a wastebasket and I carried it home in a paper bag. And when I got home, I put the paper bag in the wastebasket.

  • Malls are insular fantasy worlds where the relatively well-off pursue the study and acquisition of superfluous goods as a form of entertainment, in a society in which millions are in desperate need of something to eat and a safe, warm place to sleep.