What's the problem with consumerism?

I've an essay in the latest New Philosopher magazine, "A Commodified World".

I argue that consumerism isn't simply consuming, having too much, or being 'materialistic'. Instead, it's a very specific approach to the world.

[C]onsumerism can’t be defined simply as satisfying appetites, purchasing too much, or being fixated on junk. It’s better understood as a way of looking at the world and ourselves. In this picture, we are not citizens who happen to consume. We are consumers. Economic transactions are our way of relating to one another and the world. In other words, there is no such thing as society. There is a market, within which individuals compete and collude. Here, only exchange value makes sense: a symbolic worth, related to nothing other than other commodities. All beings ultimately exist insofar as they are saleable. And these beings, humans included, are not processes, connected in a complex universe. They are merely things: bits, specks, flecks.

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