The consumption explosion, which originated at the beginning of the industrial revolution 250 years ago and has been growing since, has two key causes. The first is the factor of economic growth which is inherent in the capitalist system. This systematic growth is compounded by the second factors of population growth and changes in consumption.
The old economics
People are often led to believe that their well-being is driven by economic factors. This is largely not true. The economy is just one organ of society. Its fundamental purpose is to organise resources such as labour and raw materials in order to produce goods and services that create well-being. There are fundamental flaws in our economic system that enables it to overstep its role to provide well-being, and consequently become dysfunctional.
These flaws are confounded by underlying, damaging ideologies that fuel the modern obsession with the economic machine:
- economic growth
- capital and profit
- productivity and efficiency
- not counting external costs
- decoupling the economy