Producerism is a notion proposed by ecological philosopher Rupert Read to describe the core operational principle of capitalism: its fixation of producing more and more stuff for monetary profit (i.e. growth), its need to sell this stuff to consumers (see consumerism), and its foundational lie that consumers—not producers (marketers and distributors)—are the driving force and beneficiaries of the entire process. According to mainstream economics, capitalism is a consumerist system: it merely supplies stuff to satisfy existing demand. In this view, exploitation of people and the devastation of the planet wreaked by capitalism is really driven by consumers’ demands. According to Read, however, capitalism is a producerist system: it produces stuff and manufactures the need for that stuff. The ultimate product of capitalism, says Read, is to produce individuals who identify as consumers and are willing participants in a system that exploits them and the planet. While consumerism is a real phenomenon, in Read’s account we live in a producerist, not a consumerist society. Producerism is ruining the planet but the burden of guilt and blame is projected on consumerism, especially individual consumers. As Read says in This Civilization is Finished: Conversations on the End of Empire—and What Lies Beyond, co-authored with Samuel Alexander, (Melbourne: Simplicity Institute, 2019), “So long as we think of ourselves as ‘consumers’ we are blaming the victim” (67).
Rupert Read, “Are we a consumerist society — or a ‘producerist’ society?” Sep 12, 2011.
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