Obsolescence? Yes, please

il_570xNWhat do you do nowadays when your stuff breaks? You used to repair it. Not any more, and for at least three reasons. First, technical designs are increasingly and on purpose made too complex for things to be repaired by their users, so you have to use ever more specialized professionals. Second, economically speaking, fixing stuff just stopped making sense when new stuff was getting cheaper all the time. And third, the endless marketing of new commodities, wrapped in a veil of bullshit attraction, has made reusing stuff far less desirable.

Obsolescence has been implemented as an essential feature of commodities, especially hi-tech commodities, for over fifty years. You’d think people would get pissed off about that. And some of us did. This assault of meaningless shit dropped from the sky has worn out a small minority and made an even smaller minority cringe at the prospect of their lives getting even more cramped in the future to make room for more shit they don’t need.
But now the situation has evolved again. When it comes down to it, people are now so reduced to conduits of commodity disposal that they are essentially OK with planned obsolescence. What are you gonna do about it, right? As ludicrous as it is, that’s nothing new.

The latest development is that for every person that says no, thanks, I don’t need that, or my old stuff is still working fine, you have a whole bunch of people who are actually hoping for their stuff to break so they can get something new. It’s like advanced capitalism has finally bred a new kind of human being, almost. Can you imagine? Now people actually can’t wait for their shit to break!

In the past making products that were too durable or reliable could make any company go bankrupt. That was insane enough, an exact reflection of the insanity of a system where you were progressively disabled into reliance on a money economy. Consider that when you do or make something for yourself or those you care about, it is in your interest to do it as well as you can. Instead, you had a world where you could do less and less by yourself or through free cooperation with others, and instead were forced to buy and sell stuff. So, in this new world owned by capital, if you made stuff that was too good, nobody came back to buy more of it because it was working well and long. It still happens that manufacturers make commodities that are too high-quality for their economic good, and they’ve been known to go under over that.
flat,550x550,075,f.u7But now the situation is different again. When a new phone or car or jacket comes out, the fact that you still own an older model that still works feels like a nuisance. You might look at it and think, the neighbor’s is already broken, so why the hell can’t mine be? A perfect compliment to a global pathology. And the rest of the world looks on in deprivation, just waiting until their economies mature enough to shower them with shit as well.

Open wide, ’cause it’s coming. Gonna be shoved right in there.

So what’s the problem here? Is it that people are not educated? I don’t think so. I mean they are not educated, true. But it would change nothing if they were, which is an impossible undertaking anyway.

The commodity is like cryptonite and catnip combined. We got no antibodies against it, no immunity. As long as it’s there, this particular species of animal is drawn to it and disabled by it. It likes shiny shit, period.

The system that makes it, you guessed it, the fucking system must go.

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