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Consumerism, a resource and an inevitable evil, short essay

After the Second World War, living conditions in Western countries improved a lot thanks to a notable increase in production.
Even the people of the lower classes were able to enjoy a well-being previously reserved only for small groups. All became potential consumers. the American model spread, starting with the very presence of the Yankee soldiers in the last phase of the conflict. They then conditioned life choices, imposing products hitherto almost unknown in the national market, such as chewing gum, chocolate, cigarettes and music records. The profound influence aroused by the United States on Europe concerns two aspects in particular: the spread of the ideas of democracy and modernity, and the extension to the old continent of an economic model based on the expansion of private consumption. In fact, so-called consumerism developed when not only bourgeois but also workers, goods not strictly necessary for survival, such as radios, televisions, cars, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines appeared in the houses. Thus was born the so-called “free time”, and people began to think not only about how to live, but how to enjoy life. Advertising, often mediated by the mass media, those already known, such as radio, and new ones, such as color cinema and television, also contributed to affirming this lifestyle. All of this was favored by an unprecedented phase of economic expansion in countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan and Western Europe. Against this spread of consumerism not only economically, but also culturally, the voices of the philosophers of the Frankfurt School, the poets of the neo-avant-garde and Italo Calvino, as well as the exponents of the beat-generation rose up. All this created the foundations for the movement of 1968, which also had among its polemic targets the law of accumulation that develops in bourgeois society.

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