Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Productionism

The idea of a production focused economy from the reading of Douglas' (1974) "Economic Democracy." Dobbs in the introduction argues that society is focused on 'productionism' or 'employmentism' (p 19). He argues that if it was 'consumerism' then only what consumers need would be produced. Has anything changed in 36 years?

We are even more production driven. It isn't that we produce for the sake of producing. Through marketing and advertising, we endeavour to stimulate demand. We encourage upgrade to keep up with the current fashion. Last year, our desktop computer crashed. As a consequence, our scanner wouldn't work with the Windows 7 operating system. The scanner hadn't failed. It had just become redundant because it was not supported by newer versions of software.

Computers, software, mobile phones, fashions, etc. are all designed for a short life time and with redundancy in mind. The marketing encourages upgrade and replacement. For mobile phones, there is some encouragement to recycle but our society is in general high wastage and low recycling. Attempts are made to increase recycling but little to refocus production on real need rather than artificial desire.

The whole focus is supposedly on improvement but I wonder whether we are really doing little more than producing artificial goals. How much research is performed simply to satisfy publication requirements. How much real difference will a lot of this research make? I suspect very little. If we were better managing society and balancing needs then such research wouldn't seem to be wastage. We would need something to occupy our minds.

If the society was dictated by 'consumerism' then only what consumers need would be produced.

In the passage about the separation of the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), we see separation is based on how the people responded to need that crossed their path. The sheep, those on his right, feed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and went to those in prison. These are the people who 'inherited the kingdom.' Are these things about satisfying need on an everyday basis or is this those identifiable occasions? I would contend it is everyday basis since they say that they didn't know they had done it. They saw and responded to need.

Matthew 15:4-6 talks of how tradition can get in the way of obeying God's word. In this passage, this is withholding help to your mother and father because what might have been able to help has been dedicated to God. This may not be the generic helping of others but it does emphasise that tradition shouldn't take over from doing what God desires.

How far has our economic practice moved away from God's plan? Our economic system has replaced religious ritual. To some extent, it is more than the economic system, it is the measures of productivity that we use. The result is that we ignore need and focus on personal advancement.

References

Douglas, C. H. (1974). Economic democracy. Epsom, Surrey: Bloomfield Publishers.

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