A note on Capitalism, Consumerism, and all of this Monsanto Business…

consumer power

This week Facebook, Twitter, and the like were all abuzz with slactivism regarding the Supreme Court hearings on DOMA and the validity of Prop 8 (passed in CA, 2008).

And then of course, by the end of the week there was the more subtle wave of, “Meanwhile, the Monsanto Protection Act was passed,” floating just beneath the radar.

The thing that’s been getting to me about this is….

We live in a capitalist society (hopefully I am not shocking anyone with that info) and I am- yes, even as a “radical” feminist- okay with that. I am not anti-capitalism. But I do think it merits social safety nets. After all, I’m a homeowner- I own property and I am damn proud of that fact, and moreover super stoked that my husband and I (together, as a team- we could not have accomplished it otherwise) accomplished this achievement just before we each turned 30. However, that does not mean that I am okay with predatory lending and bad mortgages being handed out. Now I’m no economist, but I am a feminist and I do care about stuff and things, so naturally this is just one of those aspects of life which I believe it to be both my personal, as well as political, responsibility to know a little bit about. I happen to have this crazy notion that it’s my right, my privilege, and ultimately, my responsibility as a citizen- i.e. a private individual as well as member of public society- to be at least a little bit well-informed on some social issues and politics.

While our capitalist structure does, unfortunately, allow for the existence of things such as lobbyists, it is also fueled by and founded on, above all else, the consumer. At the base of our capitalist pyramid is us- the workers, the 99%, the consumers. And there is, indeed, such a thing as consumer power. Just look at the rise of the organic food industry over the past decade, or the rise of “Fair Trade,” and other forms of socially conscious consumerism. Seeing all the posts and articles about Monsanto over the past week has resulted in a recurring thought of mine:

What if Monsanto didn’t have any customers? What if they had no consumer base…?

Imagine if we all grew our own produce and/or only bought from vendors at farmers’ markets (or other individuals or small businesses) that we trusted?

I understand that Monsanto’s customer base is not directly us, the general public, but rather the farming community and farmers themselves, and this does indeed complicate my proposition; But if the basic principles of economics are still in operation then there is still room for change. As long as there is supply and demand, there is still consumer power.

We can always put our money where our mouths are.

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3 comments

  1. only thing i have to argue is that our society isn’t purely capitalistic. actually this will probably never exist. the USA is a bit socialist as well. since the government owns much of what we use plus individuals own things at the same time…it is basically a mixed economic society.

  2. Oh no, we’re a bit “socialist” as well?! Don’t tell the Republicans!
    I wonder what “absolute capitalism” would look like anyway…? I believe that would be neoliberalism. Which I AM, ABSOLUTELY, 100% in conflict with. I suppose that’s why I’m ok with capitalism in the U.S. as long as there are social “safety nets” in place to not let things get too out of hand, although that is something that definitely needs some legislative fine-tuning, as well.

    1. Would be a good movie to see it strictly as capitalistic. Damn republicans, they study this crap and can’t tell they are closer to the socialist side. Haha! Just think no welfare, no immigration policies. Everyone fending for themselves!

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