Let me make a prediction. Over the next few months and years we will get used to a new catch phrase; 'post consumerism'. Why? Simply because this concept forms at the intersection of a problem of human development and an external shock.
There is a growing willingness to assert that well-being, as distinct from material success, is the aim of life. This in turn has two strands; the limited correlation between wealth and contentment amongst the well-off and the sense that in poor communities, particularly among the young, the problem is as much one of psychological resilience as of material deprivation.
The external shock is the combination of climate change, rising prices and commodity shortages, and the likelihood of several years of economic stagnation.
So, just as we are starting to ask whether shopping really is the route to happiness we find we can’t afford to buy as much anyway; of such a concatenation are cultural turning points made. Of course, it could go the other way, when we find we can’t spend, spend, spend we might suddenly realise how our lives depend on it and demand that Government use up all the resources NOW (in which case the human race is doomed to triviality, conflict and well deserved species extinction).
If you think this is just the ravings of an old leftie who has found a new excuse to indulge his anti-capitalist tendencies, here are the words of Sir Martin Sorrell, arguably the most powerful marketing man in the world 'our view, counter to what you expect, is that conspicuous consumption is not productive, and should be discouraged' (thanks to Jules Peck for pointing out this quote in this week's Campaign magazine).
Here are eight ideas that will rise on the tide of post consumerism:
Punk poet John Cooper Clark once said (I think) the world will end not with a bang but with a Wimpy. Cheap, disposable, unhealthy consumer capitalism is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. Hoorah!
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.