November 6, 2017

Consumerism And Violence

As we mourn the victims of another horrendous incident, this time in Texas, we look possible explanations for such violence. While there are several possible reasons for our violence-plagued modern times, one  potential source of sickness usually overlooked is capitalist consumerism.

  • Consumerism . . . promotes structural violence.
  • Structural violence was present in many forms . . . [including] increasing consumerism.
  • Consumerism . . . causes a remarkable increase of structural and interpersonal violence.
  • Consumerism [is one of the] important factors in the creation of violence and oppression.
  • There are other forms of subtle violence that we need to recognize and address including the violence of consumerism.
  • Consumerism is . . . directly responsible for violence, the root causes of which are greed, hatred and delusion. [Being] unaware of this structural violence [means we] are responsible for violent conflicts everywhere.
  • Consumerism . . . contributes significantly to violence among individuals, groups and nations.
  • As long as consumerism is worshipped in the world, there will always be war and violence.
  • Consumerism is the root cause of violence in America.
  • It is universally recognized that . . . consumption problems cause countless violence.

The quotes above come from peace and social justice literature. I found them in a paper by Dr. Sue McGregor called Consumerism as a Source of Structural Violence. I was pleased to see that she works in a university right here in Nova Scotia, Canada, in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program.

In the coming days you will hear many reasons why mass shootings are becoming commonplace, and life is becoming more violent. Cue the usual talking heads blaming just about everything. Mental illness. Too many guns. Not enough guns. Progressives.

As usual there will be a lot of finger pointing and things to blame, except the fact that our very way of life is a root cause of much oppression and violence. Or the fact that our consumer society, as it exists, would cease to be if we eliminated the systemic oppression and violence against people and the planet that are required to keep it going. 

We also probably won't hear much about the connection of mass shootings to white male privilege and domestic violence. Chances are, also, that no one in mainstream circles will suggest that some of the solutions to eliminating global oppression and violence are eliminating consumerism, inequality and state sponsored killing (war). 

None of those things are good for profits of Evil Corp. Inc. (or Evil Government Inc.), but let us not forget our own complicity as consumers, as enablers of the violence perpetuated on our behalf. We can't pretend we aren't players in the misery.

So, sorry Texas, Las Vegas, sweat shop workers, homeless, working poor, women and people of colour... we should know by now, what it is that we do, and that it connects us all to the misery occurring in our global community.

It is time to stop supporting the violence. Living simple, cooperative, and compassionate lives can help a great deal.


  1. After reading some headlines since Sunday about another mass shooting in the states, I paused and asked what is fundamentally wrong with our society that is producing people willing to die to shoot up a bunch of other people? Consumerism/capitalism has caused so many problem for us, it seems reasonable it could cause violence too. At the least it causes so much pressure on people that it could cause them to snap or break- go over the edge and do something like this. I'd like to read the paper you quoted. Terri

    1. Came back here to read the linked article. So many of society's problems are directly related or caused by consumerism. Blows my mind. Very good article. It's comforting to know that academics are studying consumerism as related to our problems. Cool that author is from Nova Scotia.

    2. Terri,

      Consumerism is a full contact hyper-competitive sport. As in any other sport in this category, participants play at great risk to themselves, and for very little benefit when it comes to the important things in life.

      People get hurt.

      Then they get brain damage. Then they get a gun. Then they get even, but never with those responsible for all the grief. It happens all the time, but they definitely do NOT want us to know this. We are buying our own painful demise.

      It's a slow apocalypse, and it is happening now.

      On a more positive note, I might have a line on a potential tiny home community project close to where we are currently living. If we could afford an accessible tiny home appropriate to our needs, close to nature, and with other cooperative types, it would be wonderful. How is your work in this regard going?

    3. Thank you for asking Gregg. Our work on the tiny home community is moving along well. We are doing all we can except putting them on the ground. The initiative has two of them built. A piece of property for a community of 6 tiny houses has been purchased and development plans have been drawn up. Another piece of property has been scouted out. It's my understanding once we get approval from city that homes smaller than the ordinance minimum of 850 sq ft is amended then we could go to work on building two or three tiny houses on that property. Though there is no indication the city will change the prohibiting sq ft minimum ordinance. I don't think they ever will. But others believe they will. So I ride on their energy. The city is now open to researching tiny houses. But the way they want to do it is make it gov't housing, a.k.a. HUD housing or something related so that it is a controlled. The initiative I'm working with just wants these homes available to buy and for buyers to just be able to do the normal things required of any other home owner to buy one and live in it. Gov't controlled housing is totally different than what the initiative I'm working on wants. SO we might get tiny houses here but would have all kinds of rules, laws, and regulations on people to live there. And many more qualifications they have to meet. We just want people to be able to buy a tiny house just like people buy other houses and live in them without all the additional requirements.

      All sorts of variations are being tried all over South Carolina regarding tiny and small home communities. Municipalities and counties are being creative with finding a way for tiny home communities to fit in with existing housing. So we'll soon have more examples to model to present to city council and model after.

      Wonderful to hear there are possibly some tiny houses or small homes being built near you and Linda. Though it seems you are in a pretty cool situation where you are, I'm guessing that you could live in a smaller space. Wheel chair accessible, etc. I have heard of some tiny homes that are wheel chair accessible. You likely already know more than I do about that.

      Your fine suggestion of cooperative housing has been very hopeful. I researched it. It is a possibility for me, perhaps a better one than even a tiny house. My research showed there aren't any cooperative housing places in the town I live in or near here. But there are some in a nearby state which might be a possibility. I am increasingly willing to leave this part of the country and go live somewhere else, so that's a possibility also. I was already on a mailing list to receive job openings for cooperative places to work. It fits me so much better than anything corporate.


  2. Anonymous11/07/2017

    I would add SSRI antidepressants to that list, which is a form of consumption. Quite a few other medications that are unrelated to mental health can also cause violence. Television is a another and Bhutan provides an interesting case study for before and after comparisons. Thank you for mentioning the structural violence against people of color in the US.

    1. SSRI's may increase the risk of death significantly.

    2. I think it is some kind of sick that Big Pharma sells antidepressants that make people depressed, suicidal, and prone to violence. Now we see - ever single one of their products has side effects, some of which are much more horrible than the conditions they purport to treat.

      When they said, "Don't do drugs, they should have meant this shit.


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