Consumerism Destroys Society

Alexander’s search for the drivers behind the modern explosion in addiction leads him to consider the parallel spread of free market societies. Along with their obvious economic benefits, free markets also bring a widespread increase in what he terms cultural ‘dislocation’. What were once elaborately reciprocated cultural transactions are reduced to simple commercial exchanges, and ‘the competitive marketplace becomes the matrix of human existence’. Social fabrics are loosened as economic winners and losers polarise into their respective ghettoes, and traditional networks of trust are replaced by often brutal demarcations between neighbourhoods and social classes. It is our now endemic culture of competitive, zero-sum individualism that has, in the phrase of Alexander’s title, globalised addiction over the last 50 years.

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