Once the process of accounting for every available square inch of terrain and every raw material has begun, it is necessary to convince people to want the converted products.
On the environmental end of the equation, the goal is to turn raw materials in the ground, or the ground itself, into a commodity. On the personal end of the equation, the goal is to convert the uncharted internal human wilderness into a form that desires to accumulate the commodities.
The conversion process within the human is directed at experience, feeling, perception, behavior and desire. These must be catalogued, defined, and reshaped. The idea is to get both ends of the equation in synchrony, like standard-gauge railways. The human becomes the terminus of the conversion of plants, animals and minerals into objects. The conversion of natural into artificial, inherent in our economic system, takes place as much inside human feeling and experience as it does in the landscape. The more you smooth out the flow, the better the system functions and, in particular, the more the people who activate the processes benefit. In the end, the human, like the environment, is redesigned into a form that fits the needs of the commercial format.
People who take more pleasure in talking with friends than in machines, commodities and spectacles are outrageous to the system. People joining with their neighbors to share housing or cars or appliances are less “productive” than those who live in isolation from each other, obtaining their very own of every object. Any collective act, from sharing washing machines to car-pooling to riding buses, is less productive to the wider system in the end than everyone functioning separately in nuclear family units and private homes. Isolation maximizes production. Human beings who are satisfied with natural experience, from sexuality to breast feeding to cycles of mood, are not as productive as the not-so-satisfied, who seek vaginal sprays, chemical and artificial milk, drugs to smooth out emotional ups and downs, and commodities to substitute for experience.
As long as the process of mediating between people and natural nonconsumer experience is encouraged, the big wheel keeps turning and we all turn with it.
Illustration by Saul Steinberg: Broadway (1986)