Consumption, Capital and Consumer Criticism Ruthless Criticism

Consumption, Capital and Consumer Criticism

[Translation of a lecture, March 2007]

I. Consumption for production – an absurd reversal of a rational relationship

Sometimes politicians say that it would be good for wages to rise again. This would be good for the domestic economy. But private consumption still does not rise. More consumption is needed.

This statement – that we need more consumption for the weak domestic economy – contains the whole perversity of this mode of production, namely, that it is an upside down relationship. It says that consumption is needed so that the economy prospers. However, one normally thinks that things are produced so that they are consumed. Production is primarily the means; consumption is obviously the purpose. What is needed must be produced, effort is exerted for it, and its consumption is what is desired. Production is the means; consumption is the goal. Instead, in our society, one hears that, although the economy is doing fine, private consumption is not faring well and this is bad, because the domestic economy could run even better. It is said that the consumer is necessary and useful as a means for the economy, as a means for the growth of production.

In addition to consumer goods, machines – general-purpose means of production – are also produced in our society. But, in the last instance, all this results in a consumer product, and one can do nothing else with it than consume it. And every type of thing is produced, just not for the purpose of consumption, but for a different purpose. And conversely, consumption for this purpose is – annoyingly – still necessary. In this society, consumption is also really necessary; otherwise, the economy cannot continue to grow. Consumption is actually always too small for the growth needs of the economy. We could use much more consumption so that it leads to the growth of the economy.

What is the role taken by consumption? In what way is consumption the means? To the extent that companies invest money into the production of any commodity, they buy raw materials, machinery, and labor, and manufacture products. The whole purpose of production is achieved, not when the products are manufactured and are ready for consumption, but only when the products are sold. Consumption is necessary as an element in the circulation of capital, so that the entrepreneur again withdraws the invested money with a profit, namely, when the commodities are converted into cash, they are sold. Only then is the purpose of the economy complete and, unfortunately, a consumer is needed for this.

This is the first conclusion. In every society, there is a necessary life process – nature must be worked on to generate the objects of need – so that there can be consumption. This natural relationship, which applies in every society as well as ours, is used in our society for an entirely different purpose, as an instrument for something else, which at first glance looks like an absurdity; namely, that there must be consumption so that production can advance further, thus the absurdity of production for its own sake. It is not quite as absurd as this, because it is about something else. Production is not for its own sake, but for the sake of profit, and it is re-invested so that the same thing takes place again on a larger scale. This has something end in itself-like, but it also has a content. The content is the accumulation of the power of access to all the elements of wealth, including all the sources of wealth. The purpose of this profit-making and reinvestment, and again profit-making and reinvestment, is to monopolize all the elements of the reproductive process, so that one makes them exclusively subservient to oneself.

II. Consumption is a limited and limiting means for the circulation of capital

What is consumption now for the economy? It is a means, a limited and limiting means, for the growth of production. The growth of the economy is the goal and consumption is the means; one that is always too low in principle. Where such relations exist, it is already clear that this society has long since left behind nature-given scarcity. The problem is not that there is not enough, it is almost the reverse: the consumer is the barrier; a good deal more could be consumed, if it were not for the stupidity of a consumption necessary to get production off the ground on a larger scale. In a society in which consumption is really the barrier to production, there is no problem of scarcity, of shortages. In other words, in such a society, every shortage, every lack is man-made. A socially produced need, a hardship, does not exist because something does not exist, or the power to control nature has not been reached. All this is left long behind when the absurdity appears that consumption is considered as a brake on growth in a society.

Why then is consumption not enough, why is it too small? This has a number of reasons, and has to do with who is in demand as a consumer. The first reason why consumption is too small is because the vast majority of the population must meet consumption from wages or salaries. Before they are valued as purchasing power, they exist as wages and salaries, the hated wage costs of the entrepreneurs who want to use them as consumers. And because of this, wages are held as low as possible, and people are very pliable. It is clear that if people always earn less and less, they can’t always consume more.

Marx grasped all this 150 years ago, quite correctly. Marx explained the reason why the workers who obtain a wage are so weak as prospective customers, why they are so barely suitable for turning goods into cash. The profit of the capitalists comes about precisely by the fact that the demand of the workers is less than the value of their product, and the profit is greater the relatively smaller this demand is. It is merely the other side of profit-making that the recipients of wages and salaries, of course, cannot buy back the product that they produce. It is merely the other side of profit, that the demand of the workers is always too small for turning the commodities into cash. In other words – two quotes from Theories of Surplus Value – the mere proportion of wage workers to capitalists implies that the vast majority of the producers, the workers, can consume the equivalent of their value only as long as they produce more than this equivalent, the surplus value or the surplus product. They must always be overproducers, produce above their needs, in order to be buyers or consumers with limited needs. They must always over-produce and that means they must always under-consume in terms of their product. This is the first reason why consumption is never as large as the entrepreneurs would like.

In this sense, but really only in this sense, the sentence applies: “The ultimate reason for all real crises remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses, as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop productive forces as though only the absolute consuming power of society constituted their limit.” On the one hand, the society produces more and more products, it expands production as if only the society’s absolute ability to consume, and only that, forms the limit of production. But they actually constantly limit the purchasing power of the broad masses in the form of the wage. This is the ultimate reason for all crises: that the mode of production does not exist for consumption, but for profitable business, and consumption is the annoying restrictive condition on profits.

This may be misunderstood as if the entrepreneurs would have no other market for their commodities except the workers who they limit. If this were so, they would not have started exploiting at all. This could not work from the outset. First, the people create a profit, which does not belong to them, and then one expects that the workforce gets to buy back the profit-embodied products; this cannot begin to add up. The situation is not so pathetic.

To begin with, there is already another buyer for the product, namely capital itself. The profit that one has acquired has also been acquired by another. And the other can perhaps buy what one wants to sell, namely from the profit that they have made. In this respect, the capitalists themselves turn the products into cash from the department of profit production. However, here also the consumption of the entrepreneurs, the demand, is not large enough, because the other entrepreneur does not buy what he can because there is a product or something to be consumed, just because he wants to consume it. The other entrepreneur makes a business calculation; if he believes it is worthwhile as an investment in his business, he buys it; if, on the contrary, he believes the product is not worthwhile for his business, then he does not buy it. Because each of them calclates capitalistically, they do not all mutually exchange the goods that each of them has to sell. The economists say that the national product equals the national income, and in this respect everything is in principle sellable, because you can buy as much as was produced. Marx says to this: if the linen weaver says to the farmer, buy more linen, and the farmer says to the linen weaver, buy more grain, I still have a lot, and both do not buy, why should they do this? Maybe they do not need it, but above all, they do not buy because of their need, but only for reasons of the capitalization of money, and they buy because they just calculate. The consumption of capitalists between capitalists is always too small, because the economic purpose is not to clear the market, but the purpose is: I buy only if I need it for my business.

Consumption is always too small for the capitalists, true. The hope of the labor unions – that employers would then have to understand the need for higher wages for the sake of demand, then they could do something for mass purchasing power because that props up the economy – is absurd. One must not set upon this hope. Why? Because each business is indeed a great advocate of the mass purchasing power that all workers have in their hands, but none of them are ready to donate to mass purchasing power with his own workers, because for each one wages are costs, not purchasing power. All the others should spend money and earn money, but he himself will not provide it. And because all the entrepreneurs stand in this relation to all the workers, it is far-fetched to expect the entrepreneurs to realize the need of workers for more pay so that they can sell their goods. Nobody sacrifices the goal of his business so that the means of his business works! The goal of business is profit, and consumption, demand, sales is the means to that end. No one sacrifices profit so that he can sell. Then one could indeed immediately introduce communism, if one would say: because we want to sell without fail, we have to renounce profit.

Each capitalist demands that his workers save, says Marx, but only because he faces them as workers; he certainly does not say this to the rest of the workers, because to him they are consumers. Therefore, he looks for every means to spur them to consume. He gives his goods new charms, talks them into new needs, etc. It is just this side of the relationship between labor and capital, which is a significant civilizing aspect, on which the historic authority and power of capital is based. What is meant by this – the significant civilizing aspect of capital – is its progress.

III. What does consumption look like when it is a means for the circulation of capital?

Because the entrepreneurs want to sell their profit-impregnated products, they strive for the purchasing power of the masses, and they do so in opposition to each other. Nobody is willing to donate purchasing power unless it is necessary for his own business; here each one is cheap and spends only what is absolutely necessary, but wants to take advantage of the purchasing power which is out there as best he can, preferably to monopolize all of it, enabling the circuit of his own capital and taking purchasing power away from the commodities of the others. How does one do that? Entrepreneurs compete for the purchasing power of the masses with price and quality. Because it's not about serving the interests of consumers, but rather taking advantage of consumer needs; because it's not about supplying people, but about using their purchasing power in the interest of capital, offers are made to needs, but needs that cannot pay are not made any offers from the outset. Only needs that can be used by capital count for anything. Poor people are made no offers. Their needs remain unsatisfied, because it's not about the satisfaction of needs, but taking advantage of needs. Overall, the masses get bargains, but only in terms of products and prices that allow their purchasing power to be used. With all the talk about consumer society, consumer lust, consumer criticism, etc., it should be remembered that, because it is a matter of using the purchasing power of ordinary people, in the really big questions no offers are made for the most important needs. A proletarian simply can’t buy a secure, carefree life on the market. This is not for sale. You can’t buy insurance against poverty. And if one could buy it, it would cost a fortune, and anyone who would own this insurance would also not need to shop for it.

Free disposal over one's own time can’t be bought by people who need it. Everything else you can buy. And here the modern worker, unlike the slave, is excluded from nothing in principle, except in accord with the size of his wallet. And because this wallet should be used for the turnover of capital, it is made offers for thousands of things, in countless gradations of price and quality in each case. The purse of the poor is also used for profit, if the products are only produced cheaply enough so that they can buy them. Therefore, consumption in our society is such that for every product – aftershave, beer, bed covers, cars – everything is always available from premium quality to trash. Class society creates a hierarchy of good and not-so-good consumer items. Every need should be used for the turnover of capital, so an offer for a good is made to everybody. This is the battle for the market with price and quality.

The second level of this fight for the market is advertising. The companies spend a lot of money on propaganda for their products. The world is full of this propaganda, which they direct at people for their products. It is always said, in comparison with real socialism, that there people were never left alone and were always badgered with propaganda slogans: “forward to the 17th Party Congress of the KPDSU!”, “international solidarity!” But in comparison to capitalist everyday life, they were left very much alone. Because, in our world, everything is plastered with propaganda for products; in this, it is unsurpassed. One simply states: “take my crap, not that of the other!” The predicates are simple. Be conspicuous, easily visible, make the name of one’s product known. This is the first level of advertising. Then price and quality are an argument. This reveals a lot about our society.

On price as an argument: it is said, “my price is great, its to your advantage!” Spending money is the best way to keep it, buying things is a form of saving. It is almost essential, at every price, to say that this commodity costs “only.” What does it mean if you say: take my product, it costs little? This is an allusion to poverty; poverty is assumed and an offer is made to it. Poverty does not need to squeeze you; even with your wallet, you will go far if you manage well and buy my stuff! One assumes the restriction on people, that they cannot buy what they want for themselves, and then one needs to say to them: you can buy what you want and need, your money is enough if you spend it on my crap. The argument is aimed only at people's poverty; it assumes that the need is greater than the purchasing power to buy, and then it says: but the restriction will not matter to you if you buy my product.

On quality as an argument: here the argument is that “my product is a luxury”, “this is something special.” This is something that not everybody has. This is also an allusion to poverty. There are mass-produced products that everybody has. But you can satisfy a need that not everybody else can. You distinguish yourself from the masses, who all use crap, if you buy my item. This is part of advertising: “I allow myself this!” “I can afford this!” “I am worth this!” All this aims at the fact what one needs, one way or another, is not the necessity, but the necessity is something very special, extraordinary.

One recruits for quality in the same way, by putting the product on a pedestal. “With this product, you satisfy your need superlatively!”, “an excellent soap”, “a super aftershave,” etc. The need is praised too; with this product, you satisfy your need so much that your life is successful. Advertising aims at the image of a successful life. Someone who buys a house does not buy a house, but buys a home with a family and happy children. Shaving cream is promoted with scantily clad women who put shaving cream on one's beard. This is generally the role of sex in advertising. It is the formula for life in general, and happiness is simply connected with a product. The image is of the successful private life. It can unlock this sphere of happiness, which ultimately depends on it. It successfully attracts the opposite sex. And this is really all connected.

One does not need an education to mock advertisements. Everybody can do this, and they do it constantly. But it is worthwhile to consider how this works. Because people are not taken in by it. Nobody believes that if he buys these underpants, he will be totally attractive, cool, etc. People do not fall for the meaning of the advertisement, so everybody can also mock the advertisement. “They promise God and the world.” The advertisement does not function in the sense of: if I buy this, I am so sexually attractive that nobody can resist me. The advertisement functions in the sense that the people themselves are already busy with the exaggerated praise of their own lives. They already pursue these goals. These are people who have split their life, and must split it, into departments of cost and benefit. Their everyday existence, in offices and factories, is their life as a cost; this is lost life, what one must do, everything that one has to put up with so that one is compensated in the life left over afterwards. Then there is the ideal that in a life in which one slaves for the profit of capital, and one is also exhausted because of this, in the rest of life, when one is free, one can use the money earned to make the commodities accessible that are to bring happiness to this remnant of life. And people in this situation do not criticize their existence, but doggedly say: I gain my happiness in these living conditions. They can always be appealed to with happiness. They do not think it is absurd to say it all depends on happiness. They hold it to be absurd that this soap should make them happy, but that it is about happiness, the ideal of total satisfaction, because half of life is a lost life, they do not consider anything wrong with the ideal of happiness as compensation.

In order to be able to sell over and over again, the business world promotes not only the products which already exist, but they always create new products, so that there is something to sell again, to buy the product of this company and not that of the other.

In addition, one must say that there is nothing bad about production that develops people's needs. This is completely normal, and is so in all societies. No consumer who has not yet seen a color television has a need for a color television, and says to himself: this is something that I lack. The needs that we have today are no longer forest-primeval natural needs. These needs are all socially produced, and this is a good thing too. This is the moment of civilization of which Marx spoke. The fact that people are more satisfied than in medieval times, and now know different foods, is normal. It is not normal that the development of people's needs is developed in the interest of production. The fact that production develops needs is not to be criticized; it is to be criticized that needs are developed so that there is something to sell again. And also that needs are the intermediary.

From this standpoint, it is all very much the same. The development of a new use value, what something can do that others cannot, and better, stands next to that in which one changes any knickknack if it is suitable for attracting the customer away from the product of the competitors, attracting it to one’s own – for this, useless knickknacks are just as good as the development of new use values. They build obsolescence into products, which does not mean the wear and tear of a pullover when it is worn out. We are talking about fashion. Every product that is created must be impossible to be seen in next summer and one needs something new, one may no longer be seen in the old product and has a reason to go spend money.

Today, everything is a fashion object. Cars are fashion objects, kitchens, furniture. I’m staying within the absurd world of the struggle for sales. For this need, to always sell something new to people, industry has really discovered something, namely that one can offer to the people, besides the use value a thing has, still another use value: namely to display oneself as a successful individual. There is no fashion without the philosophy: “express your personality!” What kind of a personality can be expressed by a car? One brags with the consumer items that one buys. In advertising, industry plays on the fact that, besides the need for mobility, the need for boasting can be satisfied.

Notice, in addition, the desolation which this need refers to! The enjoyment of the product should consist in the fact that others do not have it. I enjoy my position in a hierarchy between poor and rich. Someone “represents” himself as a successful individual because he isn’t one. There is this need only in capitalist society, where it means: be happy, but do it properly within the conditions in which you are put. Win your happiness, your success, in this world. And because everyone knows how many fail, people set down the purpose: I want success, I deserve success. They want success, only now the offer is that you can display success, which is still something different than whether the success is there. One enjoys being a success in the eyes of other individuals. How much mutilation and denial of individuality is alluded to if the offer is: brag a little bit with the product. What all this refers to is much worse than the nonsense of wanting to brag. But to brag with the products that one can afford, this is a real need in our society, so it is also no fantasy of industry if the purchase is made palatable to people as the main benefit or a side benefit of the purchase.

One reads in the newspaper that “shopping” is always more and more what people enjoy. Procuring the objects for their enjoyment is actually itself the enjoyment. One holds this first of all for a luxury, that one must procure something. In what world does one live, actually, in which “shopping” is fun? This is more important than to say to oneself, like an intellectual: I think it is no fun. If shopping is a pleasure, then the people enjoy the opportunity to lift for a moment the exclusion from products. They enjoy feeling the power of money, what they can buy for themselves. And this ability to make something accessible is a stimulant when everything is not accessible. The pleasure of the freedom of being able to buy something for oneself exists because exclusion, having nothing, is the general condition, and that this can be overruled provides a feeling of personal power and freedom.

What about the customer as king? It is important to remember the starting point, that he always can buy too little, because the wage is treated as a cost. His purchasing power is not increased through advertising, fashion, offers to buy exclusive products. So the absurdity comes about that the money that people of course earn is spent under the seal of luxury and pleasure. But they spend it simply on essentials, that which is necessary to our cultural and functional level; clothes, food, drink, transportation, housing, entertainment, vacations. The appearance is aroused that luxuries are accessible to them, and they really spend their money on necessities. And if they do not spend it on necessities, they quickly notice that they do not have enough for necessities. In the end, with all the exaggerated praising and showing off, it is their necessary reproduction that is transacted. The customer is king: everything revolves around him. He has everything under his control; what is produced is what he wants. The customer is king, in fact, the last appendage of economic life. What else does he do other than buy what is on sale and what he can afford? He can choose between the alternatives that are on the market. And these alternatives all have a condition: namely, a product is offered whose price includes the company’s profit, otherwise the offer does not exist at all. The customer can’t do anything other than serve the profit-making of the producer. How does the competitiveness of the commodity come about? By the fact that, in its production, the wages are managed very economically. It is his own poverty that he subsequently experiences in accessible prices. If one says that today the worker can buy a television, a refrigerator, etc., one must see that his difference from his grandfather is not that he is much richer today, but that cars can be produced much more cheaply. The fact is that the work has been made so productive that the worker, who works for profit, has to put less work into a car, so that, in the end, even the cheaply paid worker can afford one. It is not that he has a larger share of the wealth than his grandfather, but that the car represents a lot smaller share of the wealth than in the time of his grandfather. The power of the consumer, which is always sworn to, consists in going without a thing, satisfying the needs he is able to. Do not buy; he can do this. But what kind of power is that? He has to buy; his needs must be met.

IV. Consumer criticism – consumer lust, etc.

There is a lot of talk about the consumer society; some people who also talk this way hold themselves to be on the left. Of all things in capitalism, these people criticize consumption. One would first like to say: really, why is consumption criticized at all? Every form of production has the purpose of producing goods so that they are consumed. Work has no other purpose. One can't criticize that consumption is the purpose of production. The only reason to produce is to consume. How will you criticize this? First, one can say that the people who make this criticism have in mind the consumption of capitalist society. But this consumption, in which all the poverty and exclusion is on display – these are indications of what it means when one says, if you can afford this! My product grants a happy life! All this is a relation of poverty and exclusion. This critique of consumerism criticizes consumption not as an indicator and exponent of poverty, which shows that people are instrumentalized with their needs; that they go to work because of their needs, but they do not work for their needs, but for profit; that this appears in relation to needs in such a way that their money is always too little for the needs that this society stimulates in them. This consumption is not criticized as an expression of poverty and exclusion, but as an exaggerated desiring, as a sign of a false mentality that always wants more. This is a critique of consumerism that interprets the absurdities of consumption and of the measliness of capitalist consumption, but this criticism is not from the standpoint of a sane consumption, but from the standpoint of a subsistence level. Less is more – this is the message of this criticism. One can escape from the constraints of the consumer society by giving up the consumer lifestyle for voluntary simplicity. One declares consumption as the equivalent to a wrong worldview, to “affluenza.” The latter is a neologism of “affluence,” abundance and “influenza” – a coinage that wants to say that abundance is a disease.

People who talk this way want to say that in this society everything revolves around consumption, which is difficult to satisfy, given the wallet they have. And, in addition, they state that the spiritual freedom of the individual is lost in the process. Everyone is a shopaholic. And what do they recommend to them? Just be even poorer than you already are.

Reduce the freedom of consumer freedom – in this tone, it is said that it is consumption that chains people to the capitalist mode of production. How should we understand this sentence? Yes, it is true that people have needs that they cannot satisfy by making things at home, that every conceivable need in this society is a lever that makes them available for work in factories and offices, because they must earn money, otherwise they cannot approach the goods with which they can satisfy their needs. In this respect, it is true that they have needs; this is the weakness they are afflicted with, which makes them pliant for service to profit-making. That is not to be denied. But the fact that their needs are the lever to force them to do work that is for anything but for providing for their needs, this is precisely our criticism. And insight into this fact is the lever for their liberation. The insight into the fact that their work, which they perform to meet their needs, does not at all have the purpose, and is not the basis, of meeting their needs, but is only to make them pliant for a very different purpose – this is our criticism of these relations. In this respect, the argument is correct that they are captives of their situation. But this is also the compulsion against which one must defend oneself.

All those in the corner of the consumer critique want to believe that because people want to satisfy their needs, they are ready to put up with capitalist work, to do overtime, etc. And then comes the proposal that liberation from being under the rule of the profit goal, which continues to apply, consists in becoming undemanding. What a recommendation! To get nothing more out of life, this is their solution.

Objection from the audience: There are also needs that people are talked into.

Propose something you consider an artificial need. You'll soon notice that many people will say: this is a personal need. There is the argument that there are a lot of artificial needs. I previously took this into account when I said that our needs are socially produced, they do not come from nature, but from the supply of goods, and this is pleasing and necessary. That is precisely the civilizing aspect of capitalism, that the needs of the people are developed and do not stay where they were in the Middle Ages. But because these are socially produced needs, to say they are artificial is a plea for a meagerness which returns to a period of scarcity that today has been overcome a thousand times. It is ridiculous to want to return to that.

Take the example of something that you have bought that you leave at home and do not use, say, a clay pot cooker. That was not the case before, you say. Why should it be the second case, the clay pot cooker is artificial, and not the first? Because you no longer use it. You noticed afterwards that the product is one that is not used very much, as you previously intended, and this is true of many things. But this example is unsuitable to distinguish between “artificial” and “real.”

Try to find a criterion for a real need and one that you are talked into having. The difference between “it comes from myself” and “it is brought to my attention externally” is no good. If you are promised a benefit from a thing that is brought to your attention, you have made the benefit your own concern. Then this need is no longer distinguishable from your own real need. The whole idea that there would be a difference between real and artificial needs lives on the fact that one wants to say, nevertheless, one could do with less.

The second case, that people sometimes buy a plastic ball at a ridiculous price, so what? Should one raise this to an object of criticism? The person cannot get rich by saving on this ridiculous price. This person cannot surmount their other restrictions by foregoing the purchase of this product. Someone else drinks a beer for the same price and then the money is also gone.

Then there's the case that someone buys an expensive clock that he simply cannot afford. This is the difference to feudalism, where many things were simply not available to ordinary citizens, the exclusion today is just about the quantity of money and here you can also sometimes afford something. I just want to say, one should not become critical at this point.

It is not to be denied that the corporations, which want to produce goods and sell them to consumers, advertise and say: buy my stuff; this is their business. They have the need to get rid of something, and also have the wish to create needs that are not yet there; this is not to be doubted. The fact that they must achieve this need with loud exaggerations, this only comes about because the people are so poor they must always skimp in their budget, so they are susceptible to the nonsense that a superlative is attached to the use of these objects. They have to decide what they will do without. Advertising is necessary because production brings about something that is not accessible to people. And not: advertising is necessary because people always want to have more artificial wants. In other words, all these distinctions between real needs and imaginary ones are all versions of “do we need this?” in which they assume and base themselves on the meager financial resources of the vast majority. It is crazy to say, in a time when you can fly to the moon, nevertheless, people could get by with even less. In a society where the productive power is developed far beyond the question of necessities, people are confronted by the question “do I need this?” because of the wage they receive. And even if they sometimes buy something that they may not need, as a rule they must ration. Only because people are the means of profit, they are held so poor that they must always think about the necessities. Under such conditions, the criticism is of the relation these people have to production and not the position that they take towards consumption. Consumption results from the position towards production.

They are the cost factor labor, they are kept cheap so that profits are right, and in this role they calculate how they can get by with the amount of money they have. The criticism is that they have nothing, and not that they do not handle the offer more critically.

There is also the rational consumer who buys nothing except for tested products, who spends no money without having checked the market, and he himself cannot escape from this position. Nevertheless, how he consumes is determined by how he stands. He is used twice by capital: as the employee who produces inexpensive and competitive goods for cheap wages, and as a consumer who helps business by spending money. People are faced with an impossible, because contradictory, imperative. As a money recipient, be frugal; and as a money spender, be generous. These are different ways of saying that exploitation rules. We criticize exploitation and not the consumer behavior of those who sometimes buy crap or buy something they do not need. Both things happen, this is undeniable, but this is ridiculous compared to the main thing that is to be criticized.