As I continue writing my Appalachia book, I am reading through E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful. It’s a New York Times bestseller, and I can instantly see why. Schumacher saw some 60 years ago the problems that industrial society was making for itself and that consumption would be one of the major facilitators of collapse. Corporations and their effective marketing PSYOPS, along with the eradication of religious and spiritual values in government (specifically economics), have convinced us that having more is progress; anything less is tantamount to treason.
Schumacher’s writing has made it apparent that just about every facet of our civilization is founded upon psychopathy. From the inhumane treatment of employees to massive wealth inequalities to the ever-increasing corporate monopolies on resources, we are in a seriously precarious situation. None of these threats are new, mind you, as it all can be traced back to the very founding of industrial society only a few hundred years ago. Of course, there are some positives to our civilization, but by and large, the ever-expanding cancer of greed and envy has totally overtaken those living in Western Civ. To be honest, his book depresses the hell out of me, and I feel a sense of anomie while reading it. To see everything he was warning about come true makes me profoundly sad.
The tyranny that we see today from the managerial and oligarch classes (together make up what I call the “upper classes”) is an obvious outpouring of our false cultural narratives that more make us happy. That consuming everything in sight is our American God-given birthright, and we deserve it. If we do not maintain progress, we will surely perish because our freedom comes from obeying evil people. We are nothing if we do not obey the dogma of consumerism.
Every part of the United States is infested with these pervasive vices of greed and envy. It is for this very fact that we are not supposed to talk about it in a “polite society.” The staggering greed of oligarchs like Bill Gates is evident to most with his multiple mansions, 200K+ acres of land, his private jet and sports car collections, and so on. Of course, he does all these things, this is what greedy, narcissistic bastards do.
Many of us can scoff at his hedonistic extravagance, yet, at the local level, the same types of people exist everywhere, but we are supposed to ignore it. If we bring this up, those just as hedonistic will flare up in defense of their entitlements. Take, for instance, the neighbor who waves at you from time to time. His large house with two garages, 4 sheds, 3 vehicles, RV, multiple tractors, 2 ATVs, goes on vacation every year, eats fast food multiple times a week, watches TV for 60 hours per week, buys all sorts of electronics, etc. This man’s entire life is based on two unsavory traits: greed and envy. Despite all this stuff never bringing joy or satisfaction (even though mass marketing says it would), the lust for more drives people like this onward. To E.F. Schumacher, the neighbor’s worship of greed and envy is the problem.
Limitless consumption is so systemic in our country that it is marketed as a virtue. Does this man deserve the right to accumulate all these “things” simply because he can? Americans are certainly encouraged to do so by a government run by corporations and a banking industrial complex thrilled to make folks like this guy lifelong debt slaves. As disgusting as all the participants are in this story, this is precisely how our entire nation operates. To the economist and the unhinged government that employs them, standards of living are calculated by high consumption standards. The more Americans spend and consume, the better our lives will be, according to their “experts.”
When will it be enough, though? Citizens of the 3rd world understand what having less looks like, but to the arrogantly entitled industrial world citizens, the lust for more is constantly nipping at their wallets. How is spending $900+ billion on the holidays (what Americans will spend between Thanksgiving and New Year’s) a sign of progress for anyone other than corporations making obscene profits? How much more is a nation with household debt over $14 trillion anything to be proud about? Americans are broken because we have given over to the most insidious vices of greed and envy. We want more because others have more. We do not want to reduce our consumption because other people aren’t doing it, so why should we? With this kind of pervasive self-centeredness, is there any wonder why we are collapsing? Neither the oligarchs at the top, who consume a staggering amount of energy compared to the rest of humanity nor those in the classes below them have any interest whatsoever in reducing consumption. Everybody will hold onto the last fragments of convenience and privilege until the darkness of collapse envelopes us all. No one in our country is man enough or woman enough to forgo minute changes in daily entitlements (i.e., consumption habits) so that they and their children’s children can have some sort of successful existence.
Jesus lost His shit when He saw a few hundred rapacious money changers racketeering the temple in Jerusalem. How much angrier do you think he is with 330 million zombified greedy Americans running around the country buying junk, getting into debt, and consuming vast amounts of food, energy, and resources around the holidays? No, Dan, or Karol, you do not need to spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars gift-giving. It’s all about you and has nothing to do with the meaning of Christmas.
I mean, for goodness sake, just for the 4th of July “holiday,” with Americans spending 8 billion on food they will poop out within a few hours, $1 billion on alcohol they will urinate down a drain (or elsewhere, depending on the level of intoxication), and $1.5 billion on fireworks that are totally unnecessary all because “this is Merica” “YeeYee!”. All this tells me is that people are flag wavers to the corporations that manufactured those products. It has nothing to do with civil liberties men and women died defending. What about the $24 billion wasted on Valentine’s day. Or $550 billion in profits made by the pharmaceutical industry. This crap is all about making the owners of industrial society filthy rich, and nauseatingly powerful simply because they duped you into wasting your time and resources on made-up illusions.
What annoys me the most in all of this is that we are facing history-making tyranny from the U.S. government and the corporations that run it. We are seeing Bill Gates (a single “man”) consume astounding amounts of fossil fuels jetting around the planet while gaining greater and greater control of the world’s food supply, Oligarchs pushing hypocritical controls on people’s lives, dizzying amounts of people dying or suffering severe injury from a “vaccine” campaign that in any other time would be called genocide, not to mention energy shortages, food scarcity, and so much more.
And yet the simplest way to destroy such demonic evils is totally ignored by the citizenry at all costs. As if they had any other choice in the matter, Americans firmly convince themselves that they can have their proverbial cake and eat it too when it comes to peak oil and the collapse of industrial civilization. To the average American stuffing their face at the Christmas table, going on vacation, filling their house full of junk, or mowing their expansive lawns, they believe they can consume more and more in a frantic attempt to out-consume a consumption crisis. Regardless of political or ideological affiliation, all these folks complain on Twitter about government overreach, scary white people, drag queen rights, or oligarch control of the world’s seed supply. Still, they never stop consuming all the things that made those tyrants wealthy and powerful in the first place.
The simplest way to claw back fundamental human rights in this country and stand up for a life worth living is not protesting in the street, writing to some oligarch ass-kisser (a.k.a. politician) a scathing letter, taking up arms, or running to the hills to avoid reality. The government and oligarchs would want nothing more than to put down a physical revolt, which is simply unnecessary. Sun Tzu instructs us not to participate in a fight we have no way of winning anyway. Where we win, however, is every time we walk away, do something ourselves, or source a need locally. Do not continue buying their useless products (cosmetics, foods, electronics, medicines, education, clothing, housing, toys, etc.) For items we still need to use regularly, like gasoline or food, we begin to use less (gas) by reducing travel and grow more (food) locally to intelligently focus our energies against these evil players. Every time we choose the easy route of convenience, we participate in evil. We can slowly shift the narrative that "all consumption is good" to "excessive consumption is bad" while local production is good. For the Christians out there, it's time to let go of your idols of ego, greed, and convenience and start living life with a positive purpose. Things are getting a hell of a lot worse, so we need to use our time wisely now to form parallel networks of resilience to weather these storms.
We do not have to subject ourselves to the inhumanity and indignity of living our lives based on material wealth fueled by greed and envy. If it hasn’t been obvious enough already, what could a narcissistic psychopath like Bill gates, George Soros, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, et al. have that anyone would want to emulate? Americans have lost sight of what truly matters, what brings lasting peace, stability, and joy, and what empowers us to live lives of substance. What can these forces of evil do to stop people from opting out of their chaos? As long as we pay our property taxes and various necessary payments while reducing our dependence on their abusive systems, they can only watch in horror as we form our own paths. It’s identical to an abusive parent who watches in horror as their child picks themself off the floor and walks out of their life for good.
Just yesterday, while thinking of ways to reduce our dependence on corporations, CM made English muffins (renamed Appalachian muffins) at home instead of us buying them from the store. The process took about an hour, with most of the time spent just sitting on the counter to let it rise while he did other tasks. No artificial ingredients, GMOs, or chemicals with too many letters to pronounce. Just honest bread made at home. The flavor was phenomenal compared to store-bought, a trait Americans have so quickly forgotten about; the experience of enjoying good food’s many flavors. We like to eat egg sandwiches for breakfast, and since we are in the process of reducing our bread dependence, CM thought it would be an excellent time to learn how to make these muffins. The fluffiness, flavor, and ease of production make it a real winner. All it took was flour, water, yeast, salt, and a tiny amount of sugar. No milk or margarine was needed, and it still turned out splendidly. Almost all the recipes online and on TikTok had so many complicated ingredients that he wanted to simplify them. It shows us that you do not need almond milk, corn meal, butter, dry milk, or whatever else folks like to add to complicate the process. Simple ingredients for a delicious meal.
Although simplifying does not happen overnight, the need to keep at it continues as the upper classes literally lose their minds and dive deeper and deeper into depravity. Unfortunately, as long as we are dependent on their system, we too, will fall into the abyss with them. I hope you will break the cycle of consumption and discover in the process the peace and stability it brings.