Consumer Guilt Not Enough to Clear Corporate Conscience

One of the greatest myths of the free-marketeers has been to place an inordinate share of responsibility on consumers, while insulating corporations from “risk” (that is to say, consumer dissatisfaction). But the truth is that municipal consumption and waste is only a small fraction of the whole. Instead, industry deserves the lion’s share of blame when it comes to resource scarcity and climate change.

So while Joe Odwalla Six-pack is off taking reusable bags to the grocery and separating his recycling, his share is even smaller than he thinks. These individual contributions are efficacious and indeed moral imperatives, but they cannot match the rabid consumption and waste of obese corporations.

This is the lesson of Derrick Jensen’s recent article in Orion Magazine. While Jensen’s anti-industrial sentiment may be a bit overzealous, his demands for corporate accountability could not resonate more clearly. He argues,

“Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance.”

Check out Jensen’s full article here.

We cannot prevent climate change alone; we need to have business on board. And that means top-down accountability from government. It is up to us, not as consumers but as citizens, to constrain the ubiquitous corporate growth-urge. If there’s anything the economic downturn should have taught us, it’s that “regulation” isn’t a dirty word. In fact, it may be just the gun-to-the-head industry needs to stop its sociopathic, unsustainable gorging. When industry becomes too big to fail, it becomes perfectly apt to fail the planet.

For more on what you can do to help stop climate change and restore environmental accountability, check out the advice of Ken Cloke over at Huffington Post.