Bryant McGillBryant McGill WritingsPostsSociety

We believe we are the consumers, but we are the consumed

Biodynamics, Anarchy, Consumer Democracy and the Danger of Monocultures

Western civilization, in spite of claims to support diversity, is promoting a worldwide monoculture — the same basic values, institutions and points of view for everyone — which it calls ‘globalization’. Western commercial culture with its pursuit of markets and commodities eliminates all true culture, which is based on quality, not quantity. It creates a culture of money that submerges any true culture of refinement or spirituality, in which everything can be bought and sold, possessed or capitalized on. … The destruction of cultural diversity, like that of biodiversity, is devastating to living systems. The loss of cultural diversity does to human beings what the destruction of biodiversity does to the world of nature. Just as we are destroying our outer landscape of forests and wilderness, so we are destroying our inner landscape of art and spirituality. Our minds are as polluted as our rivers.
David Frawle

The homogenization of our consumer culture underscores a profound laziness and a sad lack of creativity and style. From coast-to-coast, any-town USA looks like the same sprawling strip mall, from sea to shining sea. It is like a bizarre form of consumer-xenophobia. The machinery of mass-corporatization loves the lazy, closed-minded tendencies of ignorant consumers, who have underdeveloped palates for quality craftsmanship. Craftsmanship exists in everything, from goods and services to vegetables, governments and even personal relationships. It seems we often timidly seek predictability and ease over adventure and effort. How we create the things we consume is very important because the act of creation yields by-products itself. Life is a constant consumption of our environment through our senses. We consume sights, food, conversations, products, touches, sounds, air and time. But as creatures with a body, we should all be especially concerned about the quality of air, water and food we allow into our bodily vehicle. As an organism there is nothing more relevant or sacred than what you put into your body. There is nothing more “meta-physical,” in a literal sense, than food. Food is the ultimate sacrament. Food is a part of our contract with life.

We want cheap products, even our food, because of false resource scarcity created by certain elements in society. But you can’t twist mother nature’s arm for a discount, at least not without some consequences. In life, you get what you pay for, or in other words you get back what you put in — no matter the currency: tender, barter, or time. People who think they can outsmart nature have a few lessons to learn.

We seem to love to dissect, organize and compartmentalize, and to exert unnatural order and control over what we perceive as wild, unpredictable and therefore dangerous. Because of the way we horde and control resources as lords over people, most of our greedy processes are forms of efficiency consolidation. Efficiency and so-called profit are the main objectives. Industrialization for the purposes of scalability of profit through economies of scale has limits and deeper consequences beyond the surface cost advantages.

The sweltering white-head of the capitalist greed-boil

The monstrous hand of control can be seen in monocultures of specialization such as assembly lines, strip malls, row farming, feed lots, chain stores and chain restaurants (feedlots for people), federalization, corporate cultures, racist gatherings, suburban tract housing McMansions, factory farming, mono-medicines, entrenched patriarchies, budget fashion, and sweatshops. The industrial revolution assembly lines gave birth to the sweatshops and indentured child slavery; as they say, you may know a tree by its fruits. The sweltering white-head of the capitalist greed-boil can be seen oozing out bland consumer conformity, and low quality goods at a high world-wide collateral cost. Economics without emotion is war against the heart of life itself. The war is between authoritarian, fear-based, profit-seeking uniformity, and freely democratic, anarchic, organic diversity; a battle between unnatural deceit and natural truths. It is a battle between the digital, synthetically-glossy Billboard Top 40, and the imperfect, analogue truth of brilliantly-flawed local live music. But ultimately, this is really a war between the forces of life and death, and the sacred expression of self-determination and freedom of choice. Monocultural forces want you to forget your childhood dreams, grow up, look the same, act the same and be the same, and this is why monocultures are bigoted and intolerant of those who are different. Monoculture hates diversity of all types, especially diversity of opinion, and is therefore the enemy of free speech and expression. Monocultures create mind-monopolies. Monoculture hates small towns, artists, artisans and colorful diverse expression, preferring instead a one-size-fits-all solution, which satiates the largest number of people at the highest profit. Monoculture wants you to forget that the joy of life is in the community of the village, where you can touch, taste, smell, feel and experience a motley potpourri of cultural vicissitudes. This beautiful village is where the real human family lives. The zombie brand-drones of monoculture live in the grey prison cells of homogeneity, dearth of the vibrancy of choice– standing in a cultural bread-line, just to stay alive.

You cannot mechanize nature or people. Natural life is wild and dynamic, not tame and obedient. We have all seen a small plant breaking through the concrete sidewalk– this simple but powerful visual metaphor illustrates what happens in any domain where we attempt to control nature. Like fools we tamper with the low-level rules of the complex systems of life for greater efficiency and control, and we forget that nature already has the most efficient processes we have ever observed. If we push nature too far we are going to get hurt, and arguably those repercussions are already becoming apparent in so many ways. If we continue to get in the way, the wild river of life may cut a new course, and more than likely, not a pleasant one. All dominions of control– governments, corporations, foolish scientists, reckless capitalists, and oligarchy overlords– beware; the collective mind of the masses is a great uncontrollable river of extraordinary power. The power of people and nature is the final word.

We need to be respectful and careful with nature and the environment.

We need to be respectful and careful with nature and the environment. Environmentalism goes beyond corporate green-marketing gimmicks, beyond debates over global warming and beyond the irrefutable molecular pollution of the biosphere. Environmentalism is about life itself, because the environment is the space where all life happens. From the microcosm to the macrocosm, there is a total symbiosis between the environment and all its diverse inhabitants representing an inseparable physical interdependence. From the fungi and billions of microorganisms in a handful of living soil, to intestinal microflora forming the endosymbiotic relationships enabling human digestion, immunity systems, and vitamin synthesis– no part of human life is possible without the total environment. One could say that from the tiny microbes, to higher-order multicellular organisms, we are all in this thing together.

We are a part of the environment, and the environment is a part of us

The inextricable entanglement of the total sphere of life as one entity demands we treat it with a level of respect we could only term, self-respect. There is no environment existing as a separate system outside of ourselves; we are a part of the environment, and the environment is a part of us. The biosphere is in a state of homeostatic balance, and its processes contain the distilled intelligence of billions of years of delicate interactions that serve all life. When we try to alter and control nature, we upset those internal regulatory processes and disturb the equilibrium. There are potentially dangerous consequences for irresponsible use of force and control. These concepts are just as true in the sociopolitical ecosystems as they are in the natural world. We must be kind and gentle gardeners with people and nature.

People crowded onto corporate and social conveyor belts, like animals in the slaughter-chutes.

We should expand our senses and reason to make wiser choices that bring us in closer, yet more respectful contact with natural life. We must release control. Control is not humble; control is arrogant. We must heal the Earth with sustainable, biodynamic, organic farming, and reject the unnatural, monoculture plant concentration camps of the industrial era of force and control. All monoculture is inherently vulnerable; from plants in gardens to people in urban centers. When you unnaturally crowd animals, including people, into overpopulated and tight quarters, the incidences of diseases will rise. This has been incontrovertibly documented. Taking any plant or animal out of its natural, dynamic, and diverse surroundings increases the number of pests. This happens because the number of pests also become concentrated, as the number of natural pest predators diminish, ultimately requiring more fertilizers, pesticides or antibiotics to forcefully sustain the health of the unnatural monoculture. The simple fact is that livestocks and gardens become stressed and weak as a monoculture. The same can be said of humans, in regards to stress and mental health as it pertains to social mind-cultures. Social mind-diseases arise out of crowding people into limited choice-spaces of artificially homogenized environments. When you narrow people’s choices to a limited subset of mass produced experiences, by removing them from the village of natural community life, and put them into monocultures of control, things start to break down. Unhealthy, degenerate and self-destructive viral memes start to breakout, commonplace depression begins to reach a low-boil, and anger and resentment fester like an infection that will not go away. People crowded onto corporate and social conveyor belts, like animals in the slaughter-chutes of factory-farms, are all part of the same big massacre of natural joy.

When we identify diversity as a strength, we are contemplating diverse people, cultures, open spaces, natural organization, room to breathe, individuality, respect, creative freedom, and dynamic access to the raw, unhomogenized life-stream of choices and consequences. We are talking about danger; the danger that your meal or coffee may not predictably taste the same in every city, state or country. The danger you may be offended. The danger you may even be hurt in the activities in which you are free to participate. The danger of freedom is real, but enforced safety reeks of a much more odious danger. Real life does not come with a safety net interwoven from the entangling threads of government and corporations. The real safety net of life is community, family, and nature.

Wake-up! Think for yourself, be yourself and return to what is real.

Wake-up! Think for yourself, be yourself and return to what is real. Free your mind and free yourself from brand slavery. We are not safer or more culturally enriched working at big corporations (for health insurance), buying the same products, drinking the same coffee, eating the same devitalized and poisoned foods, and swallowing the same political, entertainment and marketing propaganda. By bombarding each person with hundreds of thousands of commercial messages per year, and through generations of cradle-to-grave consumer conditioning and lifelong intra-cerebral media drips, consumers have bought into the notion that monocultures provide more choice. “Diversity” as a hallowed slogan repeated by minions of mono-consumers is Orwellian Doublespeak like, “war is peace” but which says, “conformity is choice.”

Television and media act as corporate slogan madrasas that indoctrinate and collate future product disciples into obedient purchasing-classes.

The monocultural corrals-of-thought are forms of enforcement which create class-stratification through brand self-identification. Television and media act as corporate slogan madrasas that indoctrinate and collate future product disciples into obedient purchasing-classes. Oddly, the lower-class buyers see the “big brands” as more sophisticated, not realizing that locally-crafted products often possess the hallmark of real sophistication the higher-class shoppers crave. There is nothing higher-class than real craftsmanship, diversity, originality and the service of skilled human hands. A craftsperson’s hands create authenticity and truth, honesty containing blemishes and imperfections. These inconsistencies are a signature of great beauty; they are unique and defining. Artisan variation is beautiful to the unique eye of the beholder. In contrast, franchises and machines create identical uniformity for equally indistinguishable buyers.

Real life is imperfect and shows differences and variety, characteristics which are not favored in monocultures. The coveted perfect life is a created standard, which is purposely unattainable. The deceptive, glossy media images of faces, bodies and lifestyles, make us hate ourselves so we will buy a solution to love ourselves once again. The conditioning advertisements make us ashamed of our blemishes, imperfections and flaws, but these so-called flaws are really our strengths and gifts. These images, idols and fixations on conformity and unattainable perfection make us illusion-prisoners. The very brands that promise us relief and personal freedom deliver the opposite of freedom; instead turning us into material junkies. They are using us, and in the process convince us to trade our originality and personal freedom for lives of economic slavery and dependency.

Surrendering our precious freedom for a fool’s paradise

Credit card companies, pharmaceutical pushers, automobile advertisers, fast food hawkers, grocery stores and banks all market us solutions, which promise us we will be happier and freer if we contract with them through their offerings. Auto corporations portray their customers exhilaratingly perched on top of a mountain, rather than the reality of being buried under a mountain of debt. They seduce us with visual dreams of being free, and we end up surrendering our precious freedom for a fool’s paradise. The master illusionists use these powerful psychological triggers to prey on the deep emotional longings for safety, happiness and freedom we all have. We see it with credit card commercials that promise to protect us from marauding barbarians, but they are the pillaging, new robber-barons themselves — a psychological sleight-of-hand to hide their crime in plain sight. In reality though, it is just more lies.

One bank hijacks the orange as a marketing symbol and has the audacity to suggest we put our money in their bank, because according to their ad, money does not grow on trees. Of course the exact opposite is true. Wealth does not grow in banks, other than fiat funny-money, but real wealth most certainly does grow on trees. The food, fruit, nuts, oxygen, shade, shelter and habitat of trees have intrinsic, everlasting and real value to human beings. No matter what economic system comes or goes, food and oxygen will always be worth more than gold or any other fiat currency. Money and true wealth do grow on trees. Beautiful food and health are priceless.

We predictably to buy the trash we are sold (through conditioning), while turning away from the life-sustaining majesty of real food and towards illusionary, counterfeit foods, which fill us with pesticides, drugs, chemicals, dyes, sweeteners, and brain-altering excitotoxins. We eat from a chemical cauldron of witch-KRAFT, or any non-food in a box with pretty, lying images on the package. There is a disappointing, recurring promise we continue to see, where advertisers avow to deliver meaning and joy to the consumer, but ultimately they only deliver illness and misery. The truth is there is no happiness outside of ourselves. These institutions are criminal enterprises of deceit and ill-intent because they harm people and erode the gift of life and freedom. All of these misdirections, and clever marketing tricks keep us from realizing that the sources of real value come from nature and human resources, both of which we already possess. The folly of endless consumerism sends us on a wild goose-chase for happiness through materialism.

In consumer life we become what we produce and consume — disposable junk to be used and thrown away.

When people are treated like a product, they become obsessed with materialism. Modern capitalist consumer-life commoditizes people and “educates” them to become human products. A culture that raises and grooms people to be human resource products in a marketplace cultivates non-individuals who experience life through materialism. When people are treated as creators versus products, materialism diminishes. This is because the way people see themselves changes. We see the world as we are, and also as we are treated and seen by others, and by our environmental situation. With rare exceptions, the people who work in corporations, like those working on assembly-lines, are not producers — they are products. This is a distinction that is often overlooked. Human products see the world as a grand carnival of products. Being a human product, versus a producer, makes people feel powerless as ultimately disposable commodities. In consumer life we become what we produce and consume — disposable junk to be used and thrown away.

A disposable society is only fit for disposable people.

When we buy junk, we become junk. A disposable society is only fit for disposable people. The loss of craftsmanship to mechanization, specialization and outsourcing, and the orchestrated suffocation of talented tradespeople has turned America into a sweeping, franchised wasteland of disposable goods. We make junk, we consume junk and we are junk. One need not look too far to see entire communities in utter shambles. Planned obsolesce has fostered cities that look like above-ground landfills. These landfill cities are full of transient quasi-gypsy renter-citizens, whose household economic lifeline is subsidized by remote mega-corporations through their international exploitation operations.

In the franchised pseudo-communities the stakeholders of local enterprise have been replaced with centralized corporate shareholders. The difference between remote corporate shareholders and the local community stakeholders is an essential distinction to understand. Corporate shareholders seek profits for their companies without concern over the profits and losses to the communities they impact with their goods. Corporate shareholders use their consolidated financial, marketing, and political strength to disempower local small business stakeholders. This power play allows remote shareholders of infectious corporate franchises to seize control, and to influence from afar, the community’s social, political, and commercial structures in ways that sicken and ultimately kill the local community. This death struggle is between centralized corporate monoculture and natural and diverse, local community culture.

Local stakeholders who care about their own community are the supreme antidote to corporate poisoning of the community by brands and franchises promising cheap, consistent and affordable goods. Cheap food and cheap goods are dangerous illusions which do not exist. In fact, once the long term environmental, energy, social and human impacts are accounted for, the so-called cheap goods are more costly than the naturally priced, higher quality goods from local sources. Cities that impose bans on franchises experience an immediate resurgence of community development, increased product diversity and overall revitalization, once the ever-grasping tentacles of the remote corporate beasts are severed.

The propaganda spearpoint of corporate conquest is often the promise of convenient, consistent and cheap goods and services.

The propaganda spearpoint of corporate conquest is often the promise of convenient, consistent and cheap goods and services. Corporations use brands as anchor points to sell predictability, which is psychologically favored. People like predictability and they have been conditioned and miseducated to only look at the immediate “dollar” cost of the products they buy.

Using an example of a buying a bicycle is very instructive. At mega-stores, you can buy a stylish-looking bicycle for a very low price. The employee who sells the bike is not a community stakeholder, but rather is a disenfranchised, paid agent of the remote corporate shareholders. As an agent of the company, it is not his job to consider the impact the products being sold have on the local community, or the communities where the products were manufactured. Why would a low-wage employee of a mega-store, who sells a “trashy” bike, care if that bike ends up putting a local business owner and true stakeholder in the community out of business, before it ends up in a landfill? These bikes are actually made for the landfill by design. One executive of a bike and scooter company who sells to mega-stores, was heard saying their new line of electric bicycles only have a “life expectancy” of 2-10 hours. They went on to say that for their customers, the most useful accessory to buy is a hook, to hang it up in their garage, and that they are made for non-use, with a shiny, appealing look and psychological price-point designed to sell. The product quality only needs to be good enough to get it out of the store, and to use a few hours before abandonment or breaking. Once these bikes are taken into a local shop for inevitably needed repairs, the purchasers often learn that to repair the bike would cost more than the original price.

Companies who sell cheap disposable goods cannot have a relationship, which is not abusive, with their customers, employees, or a community.

Cheap products destroy the communities where they are built from a social justice, labor, resource and environmental accounting, and then go on to destroy the communities where they are sold. Selling junk is like passing on a disease, where the seller is the original disease carrier, and every hand that touches the product is infected. This is the poison that runs through the veins of cost competition capitalism where the bottom line is the only concern, and the stakeholders have been removed from the equation. In this arrangement everyone suffers. The remote impoverished workers who make the cheap goods are inhumanly exploited, and the local employees of the corporations selling the dubious goods are perpetually hovering on the edge of destruction through economic enslavement at subsistence wages. As purveyors of junk, low-wage employees can only afford to buy junk themselves, and so the demand for cheap product is perpetuated. The environment where the cheap goods are made is poisoned, and shortly after being sold, when the goods finally arrive at their predestined landfill, that environment absorbs the last remains of a toxic chain of destruction. Irresponsible corporations who create and sell disposable goods destroy communities and people’s lives. Companies who sell cheap disposable goods cannot have a relationship, which is not abusive, with their customers, employees, or a community.

Selling and servicing quality bicycles is a noble and meaningful profession within a real community. Working with your hands and extending the life of quality products has a tremendous positive impact on the lifecycle of material resources. As a stakeholder in a community, a bicycle shop employee has the privilege of reacquainting people with air, breathing, sunshine, moving their bodies and the meditative experience and magic of motion through self-propulsion. That experience is real; you and your body, going somewhere. And when something goes wrong, the stakeholder’s values and accountability are there to serve the relationship and resources, both of which are sacred. The relationship is of course always the central issue.

It is absurdly impossible to have good customer service while destroying the economy and community where that customer lives.

People have a tendency to separate the concept of product from service, but in reality service is just another product. Customer service is a purposefully-cultivated cultural product of a company. It is about relationships. It is absurdly impossible to have good customer service while destroying the economy and community where that customer lives. The first rule of good customer service is there are no customers. That is a fictitious made-up word and concept, just like most of the symbols of belief to which we ascribe. In reality, there are only people; people we help or people we harm. A so-called customer is a human being. In the context of cold-blooded capitalism, a customer is a disposable commodity just like the products to be sold, which should be used-up and then replaced. A customer in the context of a community is a human being who has a share in the co-creations of the relationship between themselves and the service or goods provider. Real community is defined through sustainable and considerate creative relationships, which seek to do no harm, and to benefit all. And therefore, what we often see today is not community at all, but rather usury, exploitation and suffering. It is only community in that we are all grouped together as we are being abused and used. Generations of distilled cost-competition capitalism has produced low-quality goods for low-quality people, in such a way, where the recent generation of children can almost be said to have been born on the floors of mega-stores. We are a community of victims. We must turn our backs on these false corporate communities and reclaim our identities as co-creators in healthy, considerate relationships.

Materialism is an identity crisis.

Being a creator puts people back in touch with their power and purpose, causing them to no longer seek their identity and purpose externally through materialism. As long as people are products, they will be obsessed with products. When people become empowered creators, or producers, they begin to think about the internal gifts they have to share with others. Creative producers understand value as something internal to give, whereas human products and consumers understand value as something external to get. Human products want products. Free human creators want sharing, people and community. Consumer life and present-day corporatism is a form of passive violence because it denatures people and turns them into disposable produce. We reclaim our power, communities, and families by becoming creative producers. To end materialism, you don’t merely reject materialism, you reject the contract of existing as a corporate slave and as a disposable human product. Materialism is an identity crisis. When we do not know our true identity as powerful creators, we are susceptible to being used and manipulated. We believe we are the consumers, but we are the consumed. At the highest levels is set the standard example for how we should treat our neighbors and friends. The international financial organisms treat humanity as a flock, repeatedly growing and shearing economic wealth in an age-old process of cycles of chaos and order. Through a type of social natural selection, these intelligent processes have become stronger and more evolved systems of predation.

Systems of predation are ancient, abstract, virulent, and deeply rooted in culture, they are not merely the constructs of international corporatism or imperialist capitalism. They are process organisms compelled by survival and dominance strategies, that only adhere to the unwritten and unspoken laws of primal survival. In this sense the commonly decried institutions of imperialism, capitalism, and multinational corporations become symbolic, stumbling-blocks, which effectively keep us from understanding the nature of the parasite. These familiar words and concepts are hiding places for unknown, essential entity processes, which exist behind the words. When we say “corporation” over and over, the investigations into those deeper problems stop, because we believe that we now understand the problem and its source through this identification. But these adaptable systems of predation exist in all political and monetary structures. The essential nature of this timeless predator has been with us throughout human history in nearly every civilization and cultural system. It ultimately an internal enemy. Does this phenomenon of selfishness we observe in governments and organizations exist in each of us on a smaller scale? To understand the true nature of this problem requires deep historical, cultural, and epistemological probing to peel back the layers camouflaging this system. But even before that, someone needs to care. We need to concern ourselves with understanding how and why we allow people to be harmed and used by systems we ourselves keep alive.

Life is beautiful, precious, and worth protecting.

Inside each of us there is a marvelous compass which greatly favors life, freedom and vitality. Our sense for safety and betterment is also a highly refined instinct; a process running within us at all times. This complex instinct knows how to make course corrections when we are in danger. This process is in motion now, and is whispering to us the guidance we know and feel to be true. It is our voice of reason telling us to be careful. It may whisper at first, but will shout and scream if it is necessary. Our voice of reason is telling us that revolution is in the air, and that life is beautiful, precious, and worth protecting.

Revolution does not require you to live an extremist life of austerity by abandoning all brands. Consumer asceticism leads to a monoculture of deprivation, which is the opposite of diversity and openness. You are also not hypocritical if you use name brand products, while promoting brand advancements toward sustainability. Invest in ethical brands when you can, and include the local producers and services — what we could call smaller or local brands. You can best change the system by engaging the system to explore its strengths and weaknesses. This is how the power of choice works. The personal revolution is the realization that the village and nature have had the answers all along. Therefore, turn to your community and the great earth for sustenance and knowledge. Become fallible and human again by living dangerously and stepping off of the assembly lines of unnatural life before it is too late. The simple things in life are the greatest gifts. They are all there waiting for us to realize their value and partake in their blessings. We do not need to change anything, except ourselves. Nature is the supreme cradle of life, and must be protected and treated with the highest respect and care. We must have clean air and water, and beautiful natural foods for everyone, everywhere. We must cultivate beautiful spaces, where communities and families are free to come together to share and enjoy the bounty of earth. Above all you deserve real freedom, but to have real freedom, you must be wild and free yourself.

Bryant McGill

Bryant McGill is a human potential thought leader, international bestselling author, activist, and social entrepreneur.

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