Not with a bang, but with a microagression

tangential wandering

It seems that is how the progressive left intends to go out. Campus progressives frequently draw the ire of commentators. while their supporters retort that such criticism is overblown. Much of this has to do with tactics: the new New Left has a penchant for strident, militant action that wins it scant favour with many outside the campus bubble. Its adherents are quick to engage in petty squabbling and insist on heavy-handed intervention anytime they hear a comment or idea that they perceive as racist, sexist, and so forth. Question their assertions at your peril: those with the temerity to do so are reflexively branded a racist or sexist being hellbent on perpetuating inequality.

With this as its ethos, the new New Left engages in uncompromising campaigns to disinvite speakers from university events because their view are abhorrent to a handful of rabble-rousers; those speakers who do find their way onto campus are often physically and aurally interrupted as they try to share their ideas.

Yet even when it is being civil the new New Left is confounding and rather unattractive. I know this not because of what I’ve read but because of an event I helped to organize and execute.

At my school, there is an annual lecture put on to highlight various issues of social justice. Last year’s talk was a poignant discussion about how the Canadian surveillance state—a topic in itself that could do with more exposure—disproportionately targets Muslims. It was an illuminating and important talk, and when I took a survey afterwards I ticked the box to indicate I might like to get involved in planning this year’s talk.

Let me preface my account by saying that this year’s talk was also intriguing and important: it highlighted the role of land and language in the regeneration of Indigenous communities and peoples in Canada. The speaker undeniably had something worth saying, especially in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s full report that put in stark relief just how opprobriously the Canadian state has treated Indigenous peoples.

However, this would not have been my first choice. Mine was a choice that was doomed from the very first meeting of the Organizing Committee. This group of people comprised a handful of other students as well as some facilitators with full-time jobs in non-academic roles at the university. At that first meeting, we went around the table saying what issues motivated and invigorated us. I insisted that labour rights in an atomized economy that rested on the travails of independent contractors rather than employees was a significant issue facing us; everyone else insisted that some form of identity politics was the real issue—the only issue—we ought to be talking about.

This is the first major problem with the new New Left: it is driven by a perverse and parochial need to fragment and divide everything it sees, alienating those who may be sympathetic but less pertinacious. While the working class and middle class is reeling, as global capital continues its unfettered march, the new New Left sits around arguing about “intersectionality” and “problematizing” even the most anodyne statements. (If you don’t know quite what those things mean, you’re in good company.) The new New Left has no desire to build a broad-based movement that fights for the rights of and advocates for the many; it is keen to break off into a million splinter groups that can all inveigh against each other over their choice of what pronoun to address each other with.

But back to the event.

As I indicated earlier, the talk itself was eloquent and essential. What followed it was not. The second half of the event featured the main speaker sitting down with two other individuals to discuss the topic further. At least that was supposed to happen.

What ensued was forty-five minutes of unadulterated drivel. One individual, a gender studies professor, was supposed to serve as moderator. Instead, every time she spoke, she merely strung together arcane and unintelligible strings of words and exhorted agreement from the other two panelists. Her command of the English language was highly suspect—words like ‘activation’ and ‘embody’ were given constructions they could not possibly bear. I was so nonplussed by the whole display that I cannot even recall a specific example.

This is another major problem with the new New Left, and it goes with its lack of desire to build a broad movement: rather than speaking in a plain manner and trying to educate those who live outside of its bubble, it invents its own lexicon and runs with it. I consider myself a modestly educated person, yet I do not have a goddamn clue what this ostensible moderator said all night. This makes me highly suspicious of the “knowledge” the new New Left steeps itself in and fervently disseminates. The need to rely on mangled language and excruciating neologisms reeks of obfuscation; if the new New Left does indeed have anything useful to say, it would not need to engage in these linguistic gymnastics.

The other individual that joined the second half of the event did not have a clear role in the proceedings. She spent most of her time talking in an excessively abstract manner. She spoke of love, power, and change—all valuable notions if you bother to divulge how you define them and how you plan to attain them. But she seemed to view contemptuously the need to proffer any definitions or context, thereby rendering her statements hollow and a bit dogmatic.

This contempt for nuance and specifics seems to be another tenet of the new New Left, which I am becoming more convinced is but a superciliously self-righteous congeries that is beyond certain of the correctness of its ideas and its methods. It bears repeating that outsiders and insiders alike challenge these at their peril: asking the new New Left for specifics is another heresy, punishable by being publicly branded ignorant—at best.

Nevertheless, one individual in the audience had the gumption to ask a question of this type. He queried how all the Quixotic talk of love and new social structures fit with law and politics. At first I was pleasantly surprised when the abstract orator answered that grassroots movements are essential for driving change. But this optimism crashed precipitously when she noted that anyone seeking concrete answers could look to the social media profiles of the putative leaders of these various new New Left splinter movements to find marching orders that they would be expected to follow without questioning them or bringing their own ideas to the table. This seems to be what the new New Left refers to as ‘allyship,’ although “Shut up and do as you’re told” seems to stray from the traditional definition of ‘ally.’

After this, the “moderator” joined in and testily repeated five or six times that what they had been talking about the whole night—which was not immediately clear to begin with—were in fact governance structures. She did not bother to explain what she was referring to when she spoke of governance structures, nor did she disclose how or why the activities they had been discussing qualified as such structures—they just were by virtue of her repeatedly asseverating them to be so.

This is perhaps the most salient problem with the new New Left. If this farrago of deluded teachers and brainwashed students has one consistent belief, it is in the politics and predominance of assertion. What it says is the unassailable truth of the matter; their premise and all that flows from it exists beyond the reaches of scrutiny and scepticism, no matter how well founded.

From this comes the most risible feature of the new New Left: any attempt at interrogating its assertions will be met, either implicitly or explicitly, with an admonition that it is not their job to educate you. Such fatuity is difficult to fathom. If a movement without the support of the majority, or even a plurality, that deals in abstruse academic language and concepts yet clamours for societal change and betterment on the basis of those concepts has one job, it is to educate. While educating yourself is a necessary and noble task, any group insisting that it has something important to say has the burden of persuading non-members that that is so. Meaningfully discharging that burden unavoidably involves educating the uninformed masses. In other words: yes, all you haughty acolytes of the new New Left, it is your job—one of your primary jobs—to educate us.

Yet I decline to hold my breath, for this is it: the political left, once the vanguard of the working class, continues unabated on its ignominious decline into irrelevance. Many people read the papers and grow increasingly dismayed by things like the imposition of investor-state arbitration; the parsimonious attitudes of government towards social programs like health and education; the hurling of middle class down into the proletariat; and a technological onslaught that seems to have no regard for morality or the public good. Perhaps the people concerned with these developments are sympathetic to the idea of a more equal and just society that the left purports to be striving for—or at least did, at one point.

This no longer appears to be the case. The dispossessed and precarious classes are besieged by capital and its scorched-earth progression. Meanwhile, the new New Left is choosing to die on the hill of microagressions.

Christmastime is Here Again

tangential wandering

Christmas truly is, as they say, the most wonderful time of the year. I could spill a lot of ink trying to figure out just why that is, but some truths are far too ineffable for the pen or the keys to capture. What I am sure of—and can ably express with the written word—is that much of Christmas’s glory is rooted in the music that comes with it. Not “Jingle Bells” and all that other indolent detritus of the season, but rather true works of art based on myriad ideas of Christmas. Here are some of my favourites:

I Believe in Father Christmas – Greg Lake 

This one is a musical tour de force, Christmas or not. The symphonic crescendo and everything that builds up to it are spellbinding. And then there are the lyrics, which are surely not the typical maudlin nonsense one thinks of when pondering Christmas music.

“I wish you a hopeful Christmas, I wish you a brave New Year. All anguish, pain, and sadness leave your heart and let your road be clear. They said there’d be snow at Christmas. They said there’d be peace on earth. Hallelujah, Noël, be it heaven or hell, the Christmas we get we deserve.”

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues

“It was Christmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank.”

Every character in the song is drunk. Every person making the song—including all of “the boys of the NYPD choir”—was drunk. All of it in Irish brogue. Need I say more? I needn’t, but I hasten to add you won’t find many Christmas songs with anything like this bit in them:

“You scumbag, you maggot. You cheap, lousy faggot. Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last.”

Father Christmas – The Kinks

A brilliant challenge to the consumerist Christmas —wrapped up, of course, in pure 70’s guitar rock.

“But the last time I played Father Christmas, I stood outside a department store. A gang of kids came over and mugged me, and knocked my reindeer to the floor. They said, ‘Father Christmas, give us some money, don’t mess around with your silly toys. We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over. We want your bread, so don’t make us annoyed. Give all the toys to the little rich boys.’    …    Have yourself a merry, merry Christmas, have yourself a good time. But remember the kids who got nothing while you’re drinking down your wine.”

The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth – David Bowie & Bing Crosby

The melody is enchanting, the lyrics are poignant, and it serves as a constant reminder that—somehow and somewhere—the Starman once performed alongside the original Crooner. Whoever dreamt that one up deserves our undying admiration.

“Every Child must be made aware. Every child must be made to care, care enough for his fellow man, to give all the love that he can. I pray my wish will come true, for my child and your child too. He’ll see the day of glory, see the day when men of good will live in peace, live in peace again. Peace on earth, can it be? Can it be?”

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love

I must admit, this makes the cut because it is one of my family Christmas staples. A cover version made it onto a Christmas playlist some years ago, and my cousin explained to us all that Darlene Love had been appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman every year for some two decades to perform the song on the last show before Christmas. And so tuning in for her Late Show performances became a brief tradition—Dave retired five or so years later—but playing one or two of her several versions on December 24th and 25th has become a tradition in its own right.

Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney

Sir Paul gives us a catchy pop tune all about that feeling a Christmastime spent with friends and family imparts. What’s not to like?

“The mood is right, the spirit’s up, we’re here tonight, and that’s enough. Simply having a wonderful Christmastime. The party’s on, the feeling’s here, that only comes this time of year. Simply having a wonderful Christmastime.”

A Christmas Song – Jethro Tull

Another brilliant challenge to the consumerist and self-indulgent ethos that has regrettably come to define much of the Christmas experience. It was written at the turn of the twenty-first century and hits closer to home every year.

“You’re missing the point I’m sure does not need making: that Christmas spirit is not what you drink. So how can you laugh when your own mother’s hungry? And how can smile when the reasons for smiling are wrong? And if I’ve just messed up your thoughtless pleasures, remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song… Hey, Santa, pass us that bottle, will ya?”

Thank God it’s Christmas – Queen

This one sits somewhere between passionate embrace and entreaty for peace, made all the more powerful and beautiful by Freddie Mercury’s immaculate vocals. Though unchanged for three decades, it seems to make its point more profoundly this Christmas:

“Oh, my love, we’ve had our share of tears. Oh, my friends, we’ve had our hopes and fears. Oh, my friends, it’s been a long, hard year. But now it’s Christmas, yes it’s Christmas, thank God it’s Christmas    …    Oh, my love, we live in troubled days. Oh, my friends, we have the strangest ways. Oh, my friends, on this one day of days, thank God it’s Christmas, yes it’s Christmas. Thank God it’s Christmas, for one day.”

The Twelve Days of Christmas – Bob & Doug Mackenzie 

Christmas always needs a dash of comedy. Everyone loves a Canadian classic, and this Bob & Doug track is certainly that.

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: six packs of two-fours, five golden touques, four pounds of back bacon, three French toasts, two turtlenecks, and a beer in a tree.”

Honourable Mentions:

Cool Yule; Christmas Night in Harlem; Christmas in New Orleans – Louis Armstrong

I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard

Last Man at the Party; Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow – Jethro Tull

Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade

Ho! Ho! Ho! (Who’d be a Turkey at Christmas?) – Elton John

I’ll be Home on Christmas Day – Elvis Presely

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Live) – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

 

 

 

What Ought We Remember, What Ought We Forget?

tangential wandering

As I have grown older, I’ve become increasingly ambivalent about Remembrance Day. That is not to say I take issue with setting aside a day to remember and contemplate those who risked everything in the name of what they thought was right. Quite the contrary: we should take more than fifteen minutes every year to engage in the sort of remembrance and contemplation that Remembrance Day ostensibly exists for.

But Remembrance Day as it is observed today has little to do with such contemplation. There is no room for questions about whether what our progenitors fought and died for was indeed right and just—that is now plainly assumed. And so Remembrance Day has become nothing more than a time for uttering platitudes soaked in ardent nationalism and blind veneration of military force.

I witnessed one of these unabashed displays in Kingston last week (although ceremonies similar in tone and substance took place nationwide). The Master of Ceremonies was an elderly gentleman with a gruff and guttural voice, and a central part of his program was his loose recitation of a poem often attributed to Charles M. Province. That poem extols the primacy of the soldier thusly: “It is the soldier, not the reporter, that has given us freedom of the press; it is the soldier, not the poet, that has given us freedom of speech; it is the soldier, not the campus organizer, that has given us freedom to protest; it is the solider, not the lawyer, that has given us the right to a fair trial.” After this reading came that of the bishop, who admonished us to pray for the men who died so that we may live, and who died in the name of some sort of holy “truth and righteousness.” We were to pray for men who took life, and who in turn had theirs taken, all with God on their side.

I found this disappointing, but hardly surprising. Yet it was profoundly disquieting that these statements were put forth to a crowd that included several elementary schoolchildren. I couldn’t help but think that these children would grow up actually believing that all our freedoms were won at gunpoint; that the actions of journalists and poets and protesters and lawyers are deservedly secondary to the actions of soldiers; and that it would be wrong to suggest otherwise.

When the moment of silence came, my thoughts turned to the men, many of them younger than me, who served in the First World War. I thought of how they had been duped by their leaders, tricked into going off to fight for freedom only to be slaughtered in the mud of some foreign land. Few Canadians had the courage or the decency to warn these men that they were dying for nothing; those few that did find their honest voice were met with a swift and severe “patriotic” backlash. To question whether the war was just had risen to the level of heresy and slander—and I can scarcely imagine it being much different a century later.

Perhaps my discomfort is best summed up in the book Warrior Nation, by Ian McKay and Jamie Swift. It is worth reading at length, but I think one of its major themes can be paraphrased thusly: When we make every soldier into a hero, we make all of their actions heroic, and the result is that we find ourselves unable to debate the merits both of past wars and of sending our armies into combat again.

Thinking back to the schoolchildren: we hope they will become tomorrow’s active participants in democracy. But by consistently telling them that freedom is always born out of violent conflict, and by giving them such a peremptorily one-sided picture of how war, nation, and freedom are intertwined, we do them a significant disservice. We make democratic participation more difficult and less likely for them. And in consistently feeding the same lines to adults, we essentially do the same, for we circumscribe the important discussions we ought to now be having.

I leave you with the ever-poignant words of Bob Dylan:

The First World War, boys,

It came and it went.

The reason for fighting,

I never did get.

But I learned to accept it,

Accept it with pride.

For you don’t count the dead when God’s on your side.

But now we’ve got weapons,

Of chemical dust.

If fire them we’re forced to,

Then fire them we must.

One push of the button,

And a shot the world wide.

And you never ask questions when God’s on your side.

So now as I’m leaving,

I’m weary as hell.

The confusion I’m feeling,

Ain’t no tongue can tell.

The words fill my head,

and they fall to the floor:

That if God’s on our side, he’ll stop the next war. 

 

Part II

tangential wandering

I have scribbled little since May turned to June. But tonight I set out to jot one thought that promised to persist indefatigably in my gray matter until I gave it some release. I did as much, with some aid from my Jamaican rum. Six swigs later, this other thought arrived on the scene.  And so a paucity turned to a surfeit. Is there any doubt as to what the writer’s elixir is?

Sweeping generalizations make me hesitant, even a bit queasy. History tends to show that the road from absolutism to cataclysm is a veritable straight burn. Still, I seem to have stumbled upon a simplistic theory about why writers are most congenial with the bottle.

Surely it starts with the tendency for them to be both creative and troubled persons. Drink seems to assuage the pain as it amplifies the creativity. To write is to escape an oppressive reality in which the writer neither fits neatly nor rejects tout court—a reality that the writer  inveighs against as he simultaneously seeks to comprehend it, exist within it, even gain some qualified yet seamless entry into it.

And thus it starts: the alcoholic writer finds himself at odds with the society into which he has been so unceremoniously deposited. He recognizes the essential humanity that underlies it, but he is certain that he has arrived far too soon or, more likely, far too late. Drink is his escape, his ersatz time machine. Through drink he can move forwards, backwards, to anywhere but here.

Drink also seems to obliterate that pesky, omnipresent “writer’s block”. In sobriety he seems an insufficient conduit for any worthwhile idea; if such an idea must be expressed, he thinks, then surely it will be the accredited wordsmiths that shoulder the burden. But in the throes of drink, the moronic scribbler becomes a fount of knowledge; the only challenge he now faces is transcribing his thoughts as quickly as the words spring forth from his suddenly boundless mind.

And so the question of “Why do so many great writers drink themselves to death?” becomes instead “Why does any writer drink to excess?” The answer: Infinity. In drink there is unlimited inspiration; inhibitions fall away as pen meets paper in an almost cathartic event. Intoxication becomes the bailiwick of the mind that prefers the ledger to the larynx.

And if this is the experience of any mediocre writer—if liquor unleashes the entire reserve of a mind full of things to say, the same mind that self-censors for fear of inadequacy much of the time—then it is no wonder that great writers meet their demise in this very liquid liberation. The effusive thrill that strong drink brings is perhaps even more addictive than the drink itself. Yet if he gets hooked on the former, he is all but doomed to get hooked on the latter.

Traditional Wandering

tangential wandering, travel & adventure

Sheet lightening in the dull grey sky above. Empty streets below, their eery calm interrupted by the occasional errant cab or rambling streetcar. On the sidewalks, the detritus of the club seeks chargrilled horse testicles mixed with filler and served on a bun for $3.99.

I like to walk a major city well past the last call; the drunkards have slinked off into the shadows, the mob rests its collective head. Everything that seems to define a city—its bustle, congestion, traffic, cacophony, and sudorific heat blanket—all melts away in the wee hours.

The traffic lights carry on with their act in a perfunctory manner. A single motorist and an odd couple of pedestrians oblige. A cyclist glides by in a carefree way that would be unthinkable and suicidal during the rush hour. The gargantuan buildings are stoic, uninspiring, illuminated by wasteful electric light and the backdrop of the sheets.

This languid state serves as a reminder that every city, no matter its outward affectations—ersatz or otherwise—is only and always animated by the people that move throughout it. How they choose to do so is key, and it is the single (potential) greatest driver of change in any urban centre.

For one evanescent moment I had a strange feeling: I had reclaimed these streets, streets I never felt I had owned but was suddenly entitled to possess. I now walked with, a certain aplomb, down one of my favourites.  It was only a few blocks along Queen West towards the art gallery, where I resolved to head north and ruminate on the point(lessness) of the putative art within. This illusion and plan were shattered in short order. I had hardly made it halfway.

To my right, the northwest, the police were unfurling their ubiquitous yellow tape. Their vehicles vouchsafed the severity of the scene: forensics, SIU. Here was no petty theft, no freshman busted with an open Smirnoff.

I waited for some cars to pass and then queried across the way: “Did someone get shot?’ And, more pertinently, “Is it safe to walk here?” as I gestured westward.

“No,” came a prompt and terse reply.

“Which way is safe to walk?”

The lead officer took little time to ponder this before pointing to whence I came. “East.”

“Thanks guys.”

“Have a good night.”

“You too.” As my night had not involved dead bodies, a fact that seemed unlikely to change in the near future, I immediately figured this was a useless sentiment to have reciprocated.

And off I went, eastward and upward. I have certain conceptions of the state—some parts Marx, others Chomsky—and the concomitant role of the police within that state. Suffice it to say that neither are glowing. Yet these were all swept away by a man under a bulletproof vest with a loaded sidearm telling me I might find safety elsewhere. I listened, I deferred, and I complied. Now I get to write.

I passed the silent masonry of the provincial legislature. Now it sits empty, but when it comes to life it is full of so-called lawmakers—surely, ironically, criminals all.

I hear birdsong, a certain sign of incipient morning, a bridge from surreal night to beguiling dawn. Sirens destroy this peaceful reprieve; I see the flashing lights that go with them speed by, off to some other foolish Saturday night catastrophe.

It is an electric, uncomfortable hour. And I am of it: a minor character, an observer and occasional participant, in this perplexing serenity that forebodes chaos, a scene scarcely witnessed by those who call this godforsaken concrete sprawl home.

 

Three Thoughts Intertwined

revolution

It is trite to say that the Western world has seen an exponential technological development since the middle of the nineteenth century; and it is no great insight to say that our intellectual development has not kept pace with the technological one. What strikes me as interesting is just how stagnant some of our thought has been during the last century-and-a-half.

Take for example the Leap Manifesto in Canada or Senator Sanders and his movement in the United States. The finer points of these phenomena may seem modern, sprinkled as they are with invectives against climate change and big banks. However, on closer inspection, the discourse as a whole is vintage socialist utopianism: an erudite if simplified diagnosis of our social ills and a conception of what type of society would be preferable, but no ascertainable roadmap from the former to the latter. This is pure William Morris.

The response to such necessary if imperfect “thinking otherwise” is equally well-worn. It usually strikes a condescending, puerile tone. It is usually something like, “These lefties would have us all dancing on sunshine and moonbeams,” followed by blithe denigration of the intellect of those “lefties,” and capped by some paean to the so-called real world that the left fails to live in. in other words, an out-of-hand rejection that refuses to even engage with the ideas proffered.

This pattern is especially poignant when the issue of fossil fuels arises. In such instances, one side invariably calls for the scaling back and cessation of fossil-fuel use while the other side retorts that doing so will render “our way of life” unsustainable. The greater issue here is that we make scant inquiry into what proponents of uninhibited fossil-fuel use mean when they invoke “our way of life.” It seems to me that they (or at least those in the Western world) are primarily arguing that limiting our use of fossil fuels will mean the demise of consumer culture. They are asking how will they power their cars, or light their homes and cottages and ski chalets, or have access to a robust selection of mass-produced goods.

By invoking “our way of life,” this crowd is proceeding upon a distinctly neoliberal worldview that demands an incessant production and consumption of goods. This crowd insists on the perpetuation of the modern capitalist system, which requires planned obsolescence and manufactured want for the surfeit of products so that economic growth may continue interminably.

For this crowd, “our way of life” is consumerism, and mass-produce goods in need of constant replacement are the necessaries of that life. Thus when that way of life and those things that sustain it are threatened by any ideas—elimination of fossil fuels being chief among them—the response is vicious and unrelenting. Such ideas cannot be allowed to gain traction, and so they are ridiculed and rejected out of hand. This both complements and supplements the fact that many have spent whole lifetimes being inured to see this as the only desirable way of life. We have been indoctrinated, propagandized, miseducated, and duped into believing that fable by those who stand to gain immeasurable wealth and power from its perpetuation.

As a result, the imaginations of many have atrophied and critical intellects have stagnated. This is distressing, for the neoliberal assumptions that consumerism wrests on need to be articulated and examined by those in favour of eliminating fossil-fuel use and other progressive reforms—and “our way of life” cannot be spared an incisive challenge. When those opposed say these ideas threaten “our way of life” the response should be that they do indeed: the ideology of consumerism and perpetual economic growth are in need of a rebuke. When those opposed say eliminating fossil fuels will not solve our problems the response should be that they are correct: our problems will only be solved when society and its priorities, now so heavily reliant on those fuels, are reordered from the bottom up.

One final thing should be said, though it may come across as pettifogging at this point. Those in the West have long acknowledged that theirs is a consumerist society, that the ethos of their society is consumerism, that the idolatry of material things has transmogrified into something of a religion and way of life. Yet ‘consumerism’ strikes me as not entirely accurate to describe “our way of life.”

The plain meaning and Dictionary definition of ‘consume’ or ‘consumption’ denotes that the thing being consumed is being used. The consumerist society certainly does use up raw materials, natural resources, and labour to produce the goods it relies on. Yet I would contend those goods are hardly used or exhausted. In nearly every home—from those of the poorest families to the richest—sit rooms and boxes full of idle goods that are neither being used nor disposed of, the inevitable detritus of a society saturated with trumpery.

In that sense, our society better fits the secondary Dictionary definition of ‘consumerism’: emphasis on or preoccupation with the acquisition of consumer goods. For good measure, the Dictionary adds that this use of the term is frequently depreciative, which it surely is. So-called consumerists societies are perhaps most concerned with acquiring new, modish products and in turn each member of that society is determined to appear au courant by myriad acquisitions. Actual use of the items acquired is often short-lived and irrelevant. Thus it seems it is more appropriate to call the Western world a consumptive-acquisitive society in the most wasteful sense of those words.