RETAILING analyst Victor Lebow declared as long ago as 1955 that productive economies “demand that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and ego gratification in consumption’’.
“We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever increasing rate,’’ he said.
Economist Robert Nelson has described consumerism as “the modern theology’’.
Writer J. Philip Wogaman gave credit to the“individualistic values’’ of capitalism but said the system contained a “faulty understanding of human nature’’.
The major failing, he said, was that capitalism was a half-truth inviting a kind of principled selfishness. Self-interest could inspire a moral callousness with the successful attributing their success to their own goodness while seeing “character deficiencies’’ in those less successful.
Wogaman said social morality was necessary as a counter balance to self-interest.