The cult of anti-materialism

In: Uncategorized

20 Jul 2006

Once you start looking you find numerous examples of anti-materialism. Today I came across two before even arriving at work.

BBC TV’s Breakfast programme included an item on the proposal by David Miliband, Britain’s environment minister, to introduce swipe cards to ration carbon usage. Supporting the proposal, on the green side of the couch, was Mayer Hillman. Indeed he claimed he proposed the idea many years ago. Opposing Hillman was James Woudhuysen, professor of innovation at De Montfort University, who proposed “supply side innovation” as an alternative (more efficient power stations, nuclear energy, tidal power and so on).

On my train journey the front page headline in the Metro was “Rise in crime is blamed on iPods”. John Reid, the home secretary, was quoted as saying the rise in violent crime “is largely driven by a rise in the numbers of young people carrying expensive goods”. Now it is true that iPods could not have been stolen before they were invented but it is hard to take this argument seriously. For example, one study estimates that the murder rate in medieval England was twice that in contemporary America. Or alternatively perhaps the current conflict in the Middle East can be reinterpreted as a battle over iPod ownership?