Opinion: Is this why we’re still in Iraq?

Recently, I read an article (unfortunately that link is of a slightly abridged version, my post includes some omitted sections) in Adbusters Magazine discussing the lack of an anti-war movement. Author Astra Taylor discusses yes, it may be the fact that there isn’t a draft, yes it may be because those who would be at the heart of the anti-war movement are up to their ears in debt, but maybe it’s because would rather spend their time surfing the net or buying for luxuries they don’t need and can’t really afford.

It makes sense that in a society where young people carry supersized debt, they expect a supersized lifestyle. Though generally inhabited by fewer people, the typical new American home is 40 percent larger than it was 25 years ago. The same period has seen the quadrupling of retail space per capita, which says something profound about rates of consumption. Jumbo SUVs, loaded with luxury options, make up half of all private vehicles on the road. Pleasure and vacation travel have become standard. Air conditioning in dorm rooms, a smorgasbord of dining options, extravagant fitness centers to work off those extra calories — all amenities unimaginable back when college was cheap.

Damn. We have it so rough don’t we? Certainly no time to waste to be politically active.

Since the mid-seventies, when experts starting keeping track, Americans’ definition of the “good life” has become increasingly materialistic. Over the years, the good life has become more likely to include a home, a vacation home, a car, a second car, a color TV, a second color TV, travel abroad, designer clothes, a pool, a job that pays more than average, lots of money, and so on. Immaterial responses — a happy marriage, children, interesting work, and a job that contributes to the welfare of society — have either flat-lined or become less popular over the years.

Unfortunately, my favorite part of the article wasn’t online, so I graciously transcribed it for you.

For now, our single biggest luxury, our salient self-indulgence, is acquiescence. But by choosing to chase wealth over everything else, we ultimately sell ourselves short. Being part of a movement can provide a sense of connection, purpose, and consequence more gratifying and lasting than the pleasure of any over-priced trinket. But until we realize this sort of meaning can’t be purchased at the mall, the streets are likely to remain deserted.

Just something to think about. If there was a larger anti-war movement, would our representatives be able to ignore it?


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