The philosophy of futility

“The goal for the corporations is to maximize profit and market share. And they also have a goal for their target, namely the population. They have to be turned into completely mindless consumers of goods that they do not want. You have to develop what are called ‘Created Wants’. So you have to create wants. You have to impose on people what’s called a Philosophy of Futility. You have to focus them on the insignificant things of life, like fashionable consumption. I’m just basically quoting business literature. And it makes perfect sense. The ideal is to have individuals who are totally disassociated from one another. Whose conception of themselves, the sense of value is just, ‘how many created wants can I satisfy?’ We have huge industries, public relations industry, monstrous industry, advertising and so on, which are designed from infancy to mold people into this desired pattern.”

— Noam Chomsky

I stopped by Lowe’s yesterday to pick up some mouse traps and got into a conversation with another customer, a middle-aged man who told me he had four grandsons with expensive tastes. “I can hardly take care of myself, let alone buy this stuff they want,” he said.

“You’re the grandfather, that’s the parents’ problem,” I said.

No, he said, his son and daughter were drowning in credit card debt and he worried about them. “My son already filed for bankruptcy once and I think he’s going to have to do it again,” he said. “I live a simple life/ I have a prepaid Tracphone in my pocket, I use dial-up internet. When I retire, I’d like to move to North Carolina because it’s cheaper to live, but it’s too long a drive and I know my kids wouldn’t come see me.”

He told me the grandkids wanted things like iPods and video games for Christmas. “The oldest one is eight,” he said. “I just don’t understand why you have to give kids that young whatever they want.”

He said it was nice talking to me, and walked away.

2 Responses to The philosophy of futility

  1. Tom November 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Well, there’s a rude awakening for those four typical kids:

    Ya see, there’s a global collapse coming and the 1% is trying to keep as many of us as distracted as possible with sports, entertainment and the aforementioned “manufactured wants.” By distracting us on the one hand to robbing us and the planet blind so that they have all the resources (i’ve been hearing rumors of billionaires buying up remaining aquifers) when the poop hits the proverbial propellor blades. It won’t matter of course – this will only give them a few months (maybe) or more of time to suffer through the worsening climate change effects. In other words all the money and gold will do them little good when nothing grows and the ocean is dead. This consumptive way of life is its own destruction: like yeast, multiply as quickly as you can and use up all the resources then die out. We used to think we were smarter than that, but no – consciously ignorant is still stupid and, in this case, deadly behavior.

  2. lless November 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Pops, move to North Carolina now and don’t give the kids your address.

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