Opinion – “Made in Quebec”, I buy, therefore I am

I’m from quebec. Like you, probably. I eat maple syrup and poutine, I waste it, I drive despite the terrible whims of winter, I buy endless pairs of mittens, I drink Tim Hortons coffee, I wears the plaid shirt with pride. I eat, I waste, I drive, I buy, I drink, I wear, I am proud. I’m from quebec.

To be “Quebecer”, beyond a geographical or bureaucratic status, is an admission of consumerist conformism, which has become a paradigm of identity. Our sense of community, our instinct to identify and position ourselves in relation to our society, is intrinsically dependent on our consumption habits. Should I rather qualify them as “overconsumption” habits, because who says consumption says capitalism, and who says capitalism says “always more”. While the consumerist spiral spreads from individual to individual like a cancer attacking our cells, is it reasonable to count on the health of the body? How can we expect our society to allow us to resist the overconsumption that characterizes it?

Consider with me the disenchantment of modern Western and capitalist societies, a disenchantment to which the people of Quebec are no exception. Barely out of an XXe century when the human hierarchy was based on material goods, abundance and the orgy of wealth, we need renewal. We want so much to believe in social equity, in the abandonment of classes, in the existence of a meritocracy, that we now believe our hierarchies are based on virtue.

This narcissistic and egotistical infatuation with justifying our privilege through blasphemous “holiness” only perk up our tendency to consume. We no longer buy to appear superior to our neighbors, we buy to actually BE. Different reasoning, same outcome. All roads lead to Rome. As long as the maintenance of this absurd hierarchy has a cultural significance rooted in so-called “Quebec traditions”, overconsumption will remain an instrument of social “catapulting”.

Consume more, you will be better people! Yes, consume, and perhaps you will deserve to climb the socio-economic ladder and reach the paradise of the “upper middle class”. This is how cultural pressure pushes our head into the ocean of overconsumption. It’s up to you to struggle to escape drowning.

And then the subterfuge of overconsumption does not just combine identity with consumerism, no, it offers a solution to its own problem! Like the serpent biting its own tail, an infernal “ouroboros”, capitalism responds to the growing concerns of the population, and does so brilliantly. Overconsumption threatens to throw us into an environmental abyss? Why not consume local or “zero waste”? Let’s continue to consume, but under certain conditions, which allow us to accentuate our altruism more than to save the planet.

Quebec society applauds its idle debauches wrapped in compostable green cardboard. Full of optimism as touching as it is naive, the societal message lists the “small gestures” that will save us all from ecological catastrophe: the purchase of an electric vehicle, reusable nappies, shampoo bars or other products without packaging. Do you notice a trend? Yes, it is consumption. We must consume to compensate for our previous bad choices, even if these “bad choices” are still functional and sufficient. Since the need here is in no way material but rather purely psychological, it is a question of overconsumption.

Are we aware that our goodwill acts as a tool of capitalism? We are all guilty of having succumbed to the temptation of the succubus that is “ethical” consumption, myself included. The amount of unused “zero waste” products in my bathroom certainly betrays me as being equally naïve. Without knowing it or wanting it, each member of our society contributes in turn to the domino effect. Before deconsuming, you must consume.

In short, our society is not only based on consumption, it loves it. She loves him with a love stained with human competitiveness and emotional dependence. To resist overconsumption is to break the perfectly delicate and balanced marriage of peer pressure and the perverse opportunism of capitalism. It is a social sin that our culture does not forgive us.

Far from supporting resistance to consumerism, Quebec society is playing against us. By habit, perhaps, or else by fear. Because, after all, what would become of us without consumption running through our veins? Men lost in the desert of identity, in dereliction. This is what we would become, dear readers of the Duty.

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