The following is an interesting essay from the Gene McCarraher from the Christian Vision Project linking what has been called “affluenza” and the disease of consumption to the continuation of the preaching of the “false gospel of work” in our society. Certainly I think he makes some good points, especially for people in our society who find themselves becoming work-a-holics and neglecting family and friends for the sake of material wealth they never have the time to enjoy, but I also know that there are people who simply don’t work, and would do well to have a work ethic inculcated in them. Here’s a bit of what McCarraher says, echoing Stanley Hauerwas’ criticism of President Bush’s bit of cultural enlightenment when, in response to 9/11 all he could tell people to do was “shop:”
Thus, as the contemplative mysticism of commodity culture, consumerism is also a form of imaginative labor that fuels the political economy of accumulation. Conservative moralists in particular don’t like to acknowledge that the accumulation of capital requires the proliferation of consumer desires. We must spend money, we must enjoy ourselves, lest the whole apparatus of production and employment totter and collapse through attrition. Ask President Bush, whose clarion call to a stalwart citizenry after September 11 was—shop, travel, treat yourselves. (Cincinattus, drop that plough and pick up your Visa card.) So why not refer to our “free market” system as a command economy of pleasure? The transformation of leisure into commodities mandates an enormous expenditure of energy in product investigation; in keeping abreast of changes in brands and technologies; in the ambulatory and cognitive labor of shopping.