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Essay/Chapter 17. The consumer-utilitarian society
Chapter 17. THE CONSUMER-UTILITARIAN SOCIETY
- 1. Dynamics of the consumer-utilitarian society
- 2. Composition of the consumer-utilitarian society
- 3. Protection and responsibilization of consumers
- 4. Consumption and consumism
In this chapter we shall deal with the consumer-utilitarian society. We have already defined it in chapter 15 as «the number of individuals, goods and monetary interrelationships implied in the consumption processes».
1. Dynamics of the consumer-utilitarian society
As can be inferred from the analysis of the trade cycles carried out in chapter 8, the productive-utilitarian society (or production cycle, according to the mercometric terminology) produces non-finished goods, and pays salaries to the production forces which take part in the production process.
These non-finished, produced goods have different destinations, according to their features:
- the goods non-finished and non-finishable because of their quantity, remain in the production cycle to carry on their transformation.
- the goods non-finished and non-finishable because of their description (that is: the investment goods) remain also in the production cycle, but not to carry on their transformation, but to serve as instruments in the production processes.
- finally, a third category of non-finished goods, the non-finished but finishable goods, in the hands of the retail shops and industries, is meant to go to the consumption cycle, to the consumer-utilitarian society: i.e. it is for sale to consumers.
So, the consumption processes, natural to the consumer-utilitarian society, are only those of sale-purchase of finished (because they have been bought) goods between retailers and consumers.
Following the above, it can be seen that the productive-utilitarian society is heading for and oriented to the consumer-utilitarian society, either directly (in the case of non-finished and non-finishable goods because of their quantity, and in the case of non-finished but finishable goods) or indirectly (in the case of investment goods). All the goods produced in the productive- utilitarian society will end up going, more or less directly or indirectly, sooner or later, more or less transformed, to the consumer-utilitarian society. And so it is consumption which gives production a humanist meaning in the service of individuals, and it is consumption which ends, finishes, all the commercial processes.
Therefore, consumption is the last stage of production, that which completes the cycle: as soon as the merchandise is bought by a consumer this merchandise becomes finished and its commercial life ends, while it starts a personal-use life, in the service of the utilitarian needs of the individual who bought it.
However, in spite of the fact that consumption is the end and the natural aim of production, it is necessary to separate very well the productive-utilitarian society and the consumer-utilitarian society, because in fact they are very different as far as composition, interests, features are concerned..., and politicians must always keep in mind these differences.
2. Composition of the consumer-utilitarian society
While the productive-utilitarian society is excluding —it only admits the utilitarian professionals—, the consumer-utilitarian society is totalizing: it includes all the members of the imperial community without exception.
In fact all those belonging to the empire are consumers, according to two possible models.
In the first place there are the consumer-producers: they are the utilitarian professionals, who effect their consumption through a purchasing power of double origin:
- a private-salary origin, the remuneration of their active participation in the productive-utilitarian society;
- a communal-financial origin, by virtue of the General Statute and, occasionally, of the Utilitarian Statute.
In the second place, there are the simple consumers, who do not belong to the productive-utilitarian society but belong to the consumer-utilitarian society. Simple consumers are:
- the liberal professionals and collectivities, who enjoy only a purchasing power for consumption of communal-financial origin, by virtue of their Liberal Statute;
- individuals without a profession and families (besides the private incomes of each one of their members), who also have a purchasing power for consumption of communal-financial origin, by virtue of the General Statute.
3. Protection and responsibilization of consumers
Consumption is a right of all the subjects in the empire, just for the fact of having been born or living there.
In order to protect effectively this right it is necessary in the first place to protect the productive-utilitarian society which, as we know, is the one producing the goods for consumption: this protection is the one we have explained in chapter 15; and in the second place, to freely give to all the population the financial money needed for consumption (as we have seen in chapter 14).
These two simple mechanisms are enough to ensure, for the time being, a minimum basic consumption for all the members of the imperial community.
But consumption, as any other monetary act, demands its immediate and total personalization and responsibilization. The consumer-utilitarian society is so simple, that it needs no specific legislation, except for the very general and fundamental one that any operation (sales-purchase of finished merchandise between a retailer and a consumer) be carried out through the pro-telematic cheque-invoice, and exclusively through a current account of consumption savings opened in a Savings Bank: everybody will have one, and only one, of these current accounts.
Only in one case will it be necessary to have a minimum legislation of the consumption acts, that is in the case of the liberal collectivities: as we have seen previously, in order to avoid corruption in their budget management, the liberal bodies will have, by law, a purchasing manager, personally responsible (and only he) in face of Justice for the administration of budget.
4. Consumption and consumism
The consumer-utilitarian society, which carries out acts of sales-purchase of consumption goods, has for goal the carrying out of real, material consumption: this is no longer a market-monetary process, but an intimate and personal act, socially liberating, of every consumer.
In fact we may describe actual consumption as the process consisting of the absorption of utilitarian goods for their transformation into body-soul vitality and/or spiritual-cultural experiencies. Consumption satisfies man's utilitarian needs, but for this same reason it frees him, it leaves him free to carry out activities of a superior order than the purely utilitarian one. Consumption is, in our opinion, the sustenance and promotion of every individual, collective, ethnic... person's self.
Consumption, as a fact vitally necessary and socially liberating, must be increased as much as possible. We look for the obtention of a maximum production in quantity and very best in quality, in order to enjoy also a maximum and very best consumption; this does not necessarily mean a stupid consumism, or blind illimited development, as long as the following conditions are met:
- consumption must not be manipulated. This is the basis of consumism: the most powerful companies spend great amounts of money in an absurd and manipulating publicity, in order to have people consume what they really do not need nor wish. The reform of the advertising systems we have suggested (chapter 15) will be the most effective guarantee against consumism.
- production shall not be antiecological. As we have already said, basic laws of ecologic strategy will be given out, which every guild will have to adapt to its productive specialty (chapter 15).
When these two conditions have been made sure, we believe that it is no folly the idea of a maximum consumption as far as quantity is concerned, and of very best quality for all the members of the imperial community. The continuous appearance of new necessities is one of the most peculiar features of the human species, which makes it a continuously evolving cultural species, always open to new horizons and new outlooks: here rest all sorts of progress, both productive-technological and social-liberating. For this reason we do not support the idea of zero growth. For us, the main goal is overcoming the outrageous imbalances existing among the consumption levels of the different population sectors and of the different blocks of countries. From this point onwards to improve as much as possible both production and consumption, always within the two basic strategies explained before.