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#550#551#552#553 Episode #554 - Homo Miserabilis
(From Primitive Affluence to Developed Poverty)

#555#556#557#558

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Sat 4 June 2011  Ivan Illich (reading), Marshall Sahlins (reading), Juliet Schor, Duane Elgin, Cecile Andrews, Eli Jaxon-Bear, James Twitchell, Rod Gorney, Chris Jordan, Carol Holst, John de Graaf‎, Peter Whybrow, Julian Darley, David Broom
Listen to hour#1 in New Tab (Right Click + Save As... to download)Listen to hour#2 in New Tab (Right Click + Save As... to download)
Download Hour1 Download Hour2 The show this week looks at 'human needs' - a concept so deep as to go largely unquestioned by ideologues of economics and economic 'development'. We start with a reading from an anthropology professor which challenges ideas of 'primitive' people's poverty, before some of an essay by Illich on "Needs". In our second hour, some easier listening - a radio adaptation of a film on consumerism, Shop Til You Drop.
The show begins this week with Rowan WalkingWolf's reading of a section from US anthropology professor Marshall Sahlins' Stone Age Economics. This section, entitled The Original Affluent Society points at inconsistencies in the arguments of economics ideologues. Did 'primitive people' live hard lives of poverty, as compared to modern man? Focussing on the !Kung people, he notes that hunter gatherers have very egalitarian societies in which people although people have few material possessions, they have everything the need to live convivial lives of abundance. Poverty, he concludes, is a social relationship, not an absolute index of material ownership, and as such, is a product of civilization.

Our second reading looks is from an unfinished manuscript of Ivan Illich, entitled simply Needs. This traces the origins of the modern certainty that humans have abstract 'needs' for good and services, and that the more they consumer the more further they are from being poor. As with a lot of Illich's writing, this one rewards relistening. We have only got time for the first part of this - part two may be forthcoming in a future episode.

Our second hour features a radio adaptation of the film Shop Til You Drop, which features a number of voices. It traces the history of conspicuous consumption, and how 20th century advertisers refined their techniques at make US citizens buy products they don't need. Several voices speak up about different angles of the victimisation of the US public intended to turn them into consumers whether they like it or not. It notes that Peak Oil will mean less and less rather than more. It concludes that US consumerism is in crisis, and that it is time for self-directing people to demand more of themselves than passive consumerism, to overcome programming by advertisers and governments, and manage their own lives and help others to wake up to the real world.
Thanks to Rowan WalkingWolf of Yggdrasil Distro for the Marshall Sahlins reading.
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  • Shop Til You Drop, by Gene Brockhoff (52 min)
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