About meta-commodities and overconsumption. What connects "binge watching" to gentrification.
Marxism has always tried to make it clear that fundamental social, economic and ecological problems in capitalism cannot be solved within this economic system itself.
In recent years he has reiterated this to the so-called consumer criticism, which means that criticism of goods whose production requires particularly bad working conditions and is particularly unecological should be limited to calling on individuals to consume more ethically without doing so to express a fundamental critique of the relations of production.
However, capitalism as a system is very clever and instrumentalizes a wide variety of concerns to stabilize it: it has now integrated this need for "fair" consumption and made it into another line of business. For example, if you bring your own coffee mug to certain cafés, you can get the coffee to go cheaper than someone who uses a paper cup.
Marxists have dealt extensively with the sphere of production and consequently understood the sphere of consumption merely as its symptom. In the meantime, however, there are phenomena that, at least at first glance, make the relationship between production and consumption appear renewed.
Binging, for example, which initially meant excessive choking on food, but has now also come to mean excessive consumption of television series, expresses something that theorists of the digital age would call the "return of the body": the human body is strained, consciously exposed to overload or overtiredness, overkills and overloads.
Stomach and stimulus flooding serve as a distraction, without which everyday life can hardly be survived. People used to drink their brains out, today the psycho-health-conscious youngsters binge-watch.
The phenomenon of binge watching shows that in capitalism there is not only overproduction, but also overconsumption. One inevitably breeds the other, because what is produced too much must also be consumed too much.
The overproduction of goods was always necessary to compensate for the "tendant fall in the rate of profit" (Karl Marx), today individuals seem to compensate for their tendency to fall in the rate of meaning in life through overconsumption. So people in the western states are getting more and more overweight, most of all in places where capital can rage most unhindered.
From this one can see that the criticism of production is already implicitly contained in the so-called consumer criticism. The consumer critics only approach the problem from the other side, that of the symptom.
Like the critics of capitalism, they also want less production of the superfluous, but have perhaps already given up so much that they think the system can be overcome by making individual sacrifices, for example countering obesity with healthier nutrition, than still hoping for a collective fall of the capital that caused the sugar-coated groceries to disappear from the shelves.
Binge eating and binge watching are both phenomena of excess and scarcity at the same time: you eat into yourself where there is an inner deficiency; you're banging on where you really should have produced something.
Canned thought on canned thought
This tendency can already be seen in the newspapers and social media: here a seriousness of passivity is cultivated, which only reports on one's own consumption (of food, travel, events, books, films, music), only quote after quote, Allusion to allusion, lined up one thought after the other, one consumption experience next to the next, instead of experiencing and producing oneself.
Such suppression of experience and production means that one's own experience is consumed in the networks and offered to others for second-hand consumption. This is not unusual in a system in which the relationship between consumption and production is as disturbed as in capitalism.
The spheres of production and consumption are so severely separated here that for most of them it is no longer possible to imagine a balance between their consumption and production possibilities.
Meta-consumption is the need of the hour
However, the binge also shows that the consumption itself is no longer the most important aspect of consumption, but rather its e.g. (social) media processing.
Meta-consumption is the order of the day: Whether the ice cream in the hipster café really tastes that good is irrelevant if it's just a matter of uploading the ice cream photo to Instagram to show that you were there, that you understood that you also belong, that you stand within time and don't fall out of it.
So that you are part of the misery, that you are a contemporary and not a spoilsport, that the pack may please pounce on others, because you yourself are doing everything right - the presentation of the correct consumption, i.e. the consumption appropriate to the respective milieu should prove that.
So the report on consumption became the purpose of consumption. There is a consumption of the consumption of others. This has thus become a mere means, just as abstract as the content of what is to be consumed. First the contents became ends, then the ends became means, and now the means again become means for other means.
In addition to the abstract consumption and overconsumption of goods, it is striking how often they are accompanied by silly instructions on how to use them: for example, the instruction "Enjoy beer consciously" is now printed on beer bottle labels (as if alcohol intoxication were something that one could consciously and consciously avoid). not doing anything about it).
The consumer instructions, however, seem to fulfill something else: After all, with largely meaningless clutter, hardly anyone would know what to do with it.
If you buy a pair of new shoes, the cashier wishes you “have fun with them” – whatever else. Anyone who does not take the abstract overconsumption of once-commodity items for granted is considered a fun killer in late capitalism. The meaning of consumption, i.e. the use value, is thus shifted from the actual product to the act of consumption itself.
You wish each other fun that you might otherwise not have without consumption and consumption instructions. However, the purchased goods are irrelevant, they only serve as a lubricant for communication around the act of consumption.
In the absence of other sources of added value, the goods-producing industry today has to concentrate on establishing a meta-consumption level: that of instructions and advice, hobby magazines and professionalized consumption instructions that have been turned into commodities.
For example, if you don't see his 170-horsepower professional front yard grill with monster truck tires in the matching BBQ show and his 7-person Himalayan tent made of waterproof, hand-made, biologically, geographically and sociologically degradable eco-noodle fibers in the Walden - Adventures on the Doorstep magazine as sensible gets, might not even know what he needed the junk for at all.
The para-commodity production of the makeshift goods and instruction industry, the meta-commodities, are thus becoming a new, even essential branch of industry in meta-consumption societies. Chattering about the physical goods becomes more important than the goods themselves and a business of their own.
Hence the high value accorded to freedom of the press in capitalist states today. As television and tabloid freedom, it primarily ensures the constant background noise of propaganda.
But just as propaganda has become a commodity—consumers are even more willing to pay for advertising—that is, magazines, TV shows, podcast subscriptions, etc.—so emotional exposures have also become a commodity. Sacrificialism and provocation, for example, are such meta-commodities, which in turn are intended to promote material goods (Gil Ofarim, Sophie Passmann and various Springer employees send their regards).
Trading is done with feelings; what used to be known privately as "emotional blackmail" is now a function of the public, forcing people to consume before they even develop it.
Goods should no longer be bought because they have a real practical value, an actual function in the life of the consumer, but because the individual producer of the goods (e.g. the book authors, podcasters, etc.) was treated particularly badly, he suffered particularly, privately very sympathetically come across or even have an overflowing emotional life that is of particular concern to the public.
"A little scene capital"
Lifestyles, at least the appearance, the prospect of participating in them, are now being sold off as commodities. This is also what underlies the "gentrification" of cities today: value (i.e. the quality of life in a district) is created here by the dispossessed, the poor, the bohemians and alternatives, whose lifestyle is basically their job ("subculture") ) is. But they are not paid for doing this hard work every day - on the contrary, they are exploited.
If they have created or increased the value of a neighborhood through their cliques and unpaid work, but at least a little scene capital accumulating self-exploitation in centers, shops, sheds and dive bars, it is siphoned off from the capital: Rents become more expensive, the eco- Krautjunker from the country are moving in, the area is slowly becoming quiet and boring again, so livable.
In this case, the goods consist of the feeling of living in the right place, of being able to enjoy a better quality of life, i.e. actually "taking more with you" from life in a shorter lifetime, which means profit: grab everything that's possible. Also here: overconsumption, as a substitute for a correct mediation of (social) productivity and (private) consumption.
Marx's theory of commodity fetishism was that what is actually sold on the capitalist market is human qualities, conveyed only by an object or service - the commodity.
So that it is not primarily about the physical product that is sold as a commodity, but about what its mediation, the capitalist market and its requirement - man becoming a commodity qua wage labor - permanently withdraws from people : the human qualities. As a bourgeois man, he becomes a thing, while things, on the other hand, acquire an aura of the human.
The commodity is man's man - in truth there are no commodities, only mediation between people, social relationships that are expressed in the products of work, commodities.
After all, they don't want the very specific trend goods that everyone wants because they find them appealing as material objects. Rather, they buy them because they are constantly being promoted by other people who own them. They want to possess the social qualities of these other people, and so they buy certain shoes, headphones, backpacks to be worn by those whose qualities they value.
Worst for capital: when people are self-sufficient
So commodity fetishism is itself just the tip of the iceberg called anthropocentrism. Commodity production harnesses what is human for its own purposes in order to drive it out of man. Just as man always reads out human faces in arbitrary dots and dashes, so he always reads living human instead of dead material from the goods.
It's the same with gentrification: It's not the place, the neighborhood, that wants to be inhabited, but the living people, whose dead expression is the local conditions and quality of life, want to be desired and recognized, got to know and loved. But of course the capital principle must prevent that.
The worst thing for capital is when people are self-sufficient, actually love each other. Instead, today you have commodities and the isolation that goes with them, even isolation within the community of consumers.
Even more: the goods and their specific consumption are again an expression of isolation on the one hand, and on the other hand the longing to overcome it, for community, which of course is not allowed to be here. The fully mediated goods and human market represents the substitute for the real exchange between subjects.
The overconsumption of binge watching is therefore a direct consequence of the overproduction of (meta) goods and of the self-developing principle of hijacked longings.
As market participants, we are all already reified from the ground up, as things we exchange things with other things, that is, with other zombies in an inanimate, dead way. The exchange becomes the exchange of commodities, that is, dead. Liveliness remains limited to private life, which itself is limited:
"Happiness still appears to us as something that falls to us individually: on the other hand, there are planning and togetherness. the exclusiveness of private lust excludes us from the world and is also intended as an escape from bad reality." (Ronald M. Schernikau)
But the trick of life is that it has to be lived. Where it was killed, nothing remains. That's why gentrification is not an upgrade of the neighborhood, not an increase in value, as the critics of gentrification, i.e.: neighborhood consumption claim, but on the contrary: it kills it
But the trick of life is that it has to be lived. Where it was killed, nothing remains. That is why gentrification is not an upgrading of the neighborhood, not an increase in value, as the critics of gentrification, i.e. district consumption, claim, but on the contrary: it kills off and the place in question becomes less valuable over time.
Binge living, which consists of living in as many or as intense places as possible in the shortest possible time, will soon be invented.
In any case – as with gentrification – binge-watching of TV series initially does nothing more than devalue these series. Movies and shows have become like running water.
A small hope appears in this: the abundance could at some point ensure that what it offers for overconsumption becomes superfluous. So the medicine could actually lie in the disease here.
Translated with googol with some small corrections, i was able to find in an adequate timeframe.