Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Last week I read news of the release of another Green Room compilation with glee and a little smirk. The press release is a friendly prod in the ribs to the conservative right who have saturated us with their desire for an easily harnessed homogeneous world of "mainstream New Zealanders" (or "middle America", "middle Australia", etc). Its great to see local product speak to the "real Aotearoa" through exploration of whanau - and broadening the commonly held pakeha notion of whanau to kinship between all peoples. In short it is a nod to social sustainability.

This post does have a little of the flavour of an earlier "you're all individuals" call. But what I am getting at is the need for a consciousness in our day to day lives. Rather than react to the same old lame old rallying cries (such as Bush's "go out and shop" response to 9/11), why not think about the fundamental relationships that exist all around us. Not only whanau and kinship, but our place in nature, our role as global citizens, and the fact that all our relationships dictate our future.

If we see ourselves in society as
mere consumers - as the conservative right would have it - we are powerless, merely a demographic. We do have power as consumers. Not power contained in the pretty little things we purchase, but power in our act of support for the providers of those pretty little things. In the act of shopping we endorse individual methods of business. By shopping we are reinforcing a network of relationships. We therefore have the responsibility and power to endorse relationships that are positive. Relationships that are conscious.

So, the next time a politician says that mainstream is a mindset, think of what relationships are being endorsed. In relating to a demographic (no matter how vague) rather than to us as individuals the assumption is that all our relationships are the same, and therefore less-important. Inherent in the comments of a
notable Kiwi politician is an economists familiarity with imaginary communities - where actions are packaged so as to be quantifiable.

Individual decisions incorporate quality judgments that economists find difficult to place. It just happens to be that in this space lies the power to build relationships on values that matter - whanau, kinship, nature, and our functioning as communities. This is the space where a sustainable alternative to a mainstream, mass-market, normalised consumer society is rooted. The current Green Room CD is just the surface of this potential...

1 comment:

onebadhobbit said...

Guv, dont you know, its a ploy to get you to buy their stuff. Its no different than anyone else, just wrapped in brown cardboard. If they can support Westpacs student banking scheme, with a free CD, they can do anything.