Consumption and Politics

Ad or political comment? Can you spot the difference?
Caption reads: “10,000 Volts volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent.”
How many dudes would be driving past in a car or riding the bus and glimpse at the billboard and sew the seeds for an iPod?
I have little tolerance for people who argue that ‘consumption’ is in any way resistant. Unless an alternate economy is set up that is totally separate from the current global order, then there can only ever be less complicit consumption.
Steve from the “Discussion of J-F-Lyotard, Alain Badiou,the Event” list (and blog) posted this interview wih Zygmut Bauman. Bauman is provocative, addressing such topics as the dismantling of the welfare state and the shift from a production-based politics to one premised on consumption. He says: 

In the world of consumers, the poor who are currently un-performing consumer duties are, purely and simply, ‘flawed consumers’ and flawed beyond redemption (and vice versa: those who cannot behave as the right and proper consumer should consider themselves, and are viewed by others, as poor). Affairs may hum up in the future, but by no stretch of imagination will the poor be called then to active consumer service. Investing in their survival means money wasted; it may be called for by charitable impulses or for the sake of peace and quiet – but ‘economic sense’ it most certainly makes not. Such investing will only prolong, with little prospect of ever stopping, the frownedupon procedure of withdrawing money from the commodity market – the only site where spending money does make economic sense … And so, in stark opposition to the society of producers, cutting down on collectively-funded lifelines for the (permanently) indolent is a question ‘beyond left and right’. The presence of the poor is therefore widely felt as an unredeemed and unredeemable liability. A sore in the eyes of consumers, they are chased out of the streets. A sore in the eyes of the politicians, they are chased out of the alltoo-visible statistics of social welfare expenditures into the much-less-visible statistics of business subsidies. All in all, it is not poverty that the wars are waged against, but the ‘problem of the poor’.

Very interesting stuff, the ‘poor’ become a haystack of strawmen (and women) discursively produced as a ‘problem’ for the consumer-based civility, rather than the neoliberal order being a problem for the disadvantaged who are locked in cycles of social reproduction…. It is very interesting especially when you get people who used to be socialists — like Hitchens — turning into apologists for the neo-liberal and sprouting things like: 

Marx’s original insight about capitalism was that it was the most revolutionary and creative force ever to appear in human history.