Advertising is now the “second biggest budget in the world” — the first being weapons for war

From Matthew Fox, July 2, 2020

Serge Latouche identifies three ingredients necessary to a consumer-driven economy: advertising, credit, and products with built-in or planned obsolescence.  He alerts us to the evil of avarice that is baked into so much advertising: Lebow: Our economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption. . . . We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.

Advertising makes us want what we do not have and despise what we already have. It creates and re-creates the dissatisfaction and tension of frustrated desire.

A survey of big American companies found that 90 percent of their CEO’s admitted that it would be impossible to sell a new product without an advertising campaign.

Eighty-five percent confessed that advertising “often” persuaded people to buy things they did not need; and 51 percent admitted that advertising persuaded people to buy things that they did not really want.  

Advertising is now the “second biggest budget in the world” — the first being weapons for war.


If growth automatically generated well-being, we would now be living in paradise. We are in fact going down the road to hell.

Latouche endorses the “slow food” movements, the “slow city” movements, and the “new commune” movements of Italy that are springing up around Europe.

He sees in them a “laboratory for critical analysis” of how to implement de-growth philosophy into practice.

Like David Korten, he endorses local economies and agriculture wherever possible, and notes that small and organic farming creates many good jobs. Indeed, statistics show that in France the appearance of supermarkets did away with 17 percent of bakers in France, 84 percent of grocers, and 43 percent of hardware dealers; five sustainable jobs in local shops were lost for every one created in mass market stores.  

Says Latouche, citing Ivan Illich: “The recipe lies in doing more, and doing better, with less.”  We can cut the depletion of natural resources by 30 percent by reducing “final” consumption by 50 percent and create an appropriate ecological footprint for our one planet and still “the improvement in our quality of life would be out of all proportion to the measures that are needed.”

Latouche addresses the “massive” failures of so-called “development” policies in developing countries which have “resulted in corruption, incoherence and structural adjustment plans that have turned poverty into misery.” Colonization, development, and globalization, he feels, have interrupted the organic economies of Southern cultures. He cites a Guatemalan peasant leader: “Leave the poor alone and stop talking to them about development.”

Citations are from Serge LaTouche, Farewell toGrowth.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 241-244.