The production process of the consumer

Lincoln Smith
11 min readSep 6, 2021


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Photo by Pier Francesco Grizi on Unsplash

What does it mean to be a conscious consumer?

We often hear conscious consumption can facilitate change as people are more aware of their actions and so modify their behaviour accordingly. We come to understand the harm our actions contribute to, so take responsibility for our choices as we are conscious of the effect beyond the immediacy of the satisfaction of the good or service consumed. There is a “good” that extends beyond my own individual consideration, be it societal or ecological and we give this due consideration in our purchasing. Exactly what kind of change is envisaged here, and is it sufficient to constitute change?

If to be conscious is to be cognizant of the effects of our actions then what form do our actions take? Would they not be economising, and so economise the good we don’t question when “conscious consumption” is touted? To consider alternatives when purchasing, so be conscious of the difference between goods and services is one thing, but when your time is an economic good, so the means utilized to produce the form of life for demand to be the extent of agency choice has been removed. You have no choice, as time is given, is presupposed to not question it. Where is the categorical imperative if there was one to act where your choice is sufficient to constitute the change you would like to see?

What does it mean to be a conscious consumer?

To be aware of how we produce ourselves as consumers is a prerequisite to set action of firm grounds as the resultant change will be commensurate to the elevated consciousness that sees it for what is, an artefact of non thinking

For the change conscious consumption envisages to be meaningful, an understanding of the production process of the consumer is what we need to be conscious of, only then would people be conscious of their actions to make good on their choice. Does the question of ethical consumption ever address this? Does it not rather accept the same diminution of agency, to try make good on the aspirations for change yet cannot as the process of the “good consumed” is never brought into consciousness. The choice between alternatives can change the “moral compass” but it still does not reveal the existential claim that is categorical that persists under your preference. If it did how would this movement within the “market” be framed? Would conscious consumption be seen as provisional, so pointing to something for the lack of awareness to make transparent, and so reinvigorate a much more dynamic form of action than the one currently touted? The form of consumer activism would transform as the consciousness would not be oriented towards addressing “externalities” of the production consumption nexus, but rather the form of life presupposed. So the way the marginal form of life we inhabit engendered the externalisation of a spiritual disease, that manifests through ecological and societal issues that abound to reflect on. If action is beholden to its symptoms then it will only have recourse to what is derivative rather than what is preeminent and so change will be captured by what has yet to be revealed.

To act with a holism befitting of change the prerequisite is to acknowledge you don’t have a choice if you presuppose your time is unqualified. Once you are aware time is derivative so is nothing other than a sheer claim the opportunity of a praxis, and so a new form and way of life will emerge, and so change will be beyond consumption legitimised. To be aware of how we produce ourselves as consumers is a prerequisite to set action of firm grounds as the resultant change will be commensurate to the elevated consciousness that sees it for what is, an artefact of non thinking. When intentionality is brought to bear, the difference adds up to a revolutionary turn of events that animates what current “conscious consumption “ is incapable of doing. If you think conscious consumption is the extent of, or limit of possibility then this would dramatically underestimate the significance of action, or what we are capable of. As it is the specific form of action we need to address we will now turn to.

Aware of what

So what it is we need to be conscious of so that activism, so a form of action beholden to market dynamics as an arbiter for the future is released from the rationing, the portioning of change in lots? We must become aware we consume our time, so consume the potential of ourselves for consumption to become a compensation of things that substitutes for the existential lack such economising entails. To consume ones time means a marginality is pre existent, in order for it to fold back upon itself in order to consume it to no end. Time can only be consumed if time has been turned into a means to produce the form of life that necessitates this consumption so as to maintain the action that does not potentialise anything in its activity. So we legitimise to ourselves we value our time, we say this, but we value it as an economic good, so a means to produce the form of life where we spend our time. We spend our time as leisure to no end, there is no potential in time if spent as an economic good as it is a past time; past the time of its potential, the instant of its actualisation of its potential for change.

Photo by Alexander Kovacs on Unsplash

The consumption of time enables the exception to be determinative of agency so what you consume yourself on, this occurs through the substitutable nature of what is secondary, or subordinate to securing your time as a supplement the economisation of it entails. As the economisation is independent of what would considered to be interpersonal exchange, time is secured against the relationality of a market oriented way of life. To secure time is to secure your want as the domain of your exceptionalism so your choices of consumption, as to preference is to make an exception . So in the case of conscious consumption, you can make an exception in reference to competing choices, yet seeing you pass over the exception to the form of life, your choices maintain the form of life. So to tout consciousness of the preference of a societal good is derivative of the an exception you don’t make, though do by not considering it a choice. The resultant change is marketed as supplementary to the good of want the form legitimises. As you maintain yourself in reference to the world where the form you inhabit is not implicated in any way, you give the appearance of agency as your choices demonstrate an already defined limit. So you adhere to what is expected of you, you cannot potentialize anything that is not already given. The opportunity to align with your “values” is a way of ensuring this limitation persists, all the while you can proclaim you are doing your bit as you are more aware of the significance of your action so act accordingly. And yet your actions are economising, as you secure your time as a supplement, as the economic good of time is something you presuppose so do not think through its significance. To be conscious of it, is to understand the change you are oriented toward is compromised through the choice you do not have, or think you do not have when you substantiate through your economising actions time is an economic good to produce yourself as the consumer you take yourself for.

When you become aware of this the consumer activism you were engaged in will seem, how shall we put it; trite, as the limitation is obvious. As you are not potentializing the form of life you inhabit so implicate your actions in the creation of a world. The prerequisite of understanding the process of your production is critical as you are given as a product in your everydayness, whether in your role to accept official narratives to become a mouth piece for propaganda, or an adherent to what is demanded of you to qualify your “social credit” through the overt politicization of your biological existence as a pretext to ensure your continued diminution, or through marketing and branding attendant to it, it matters little. You are a given of a world view you substantiate, you conform to what is expected, and so confirm the story told, so offer nothing in the way of potential that doesn’t have a market for it.

Diminishing return on the form of life

…there is no place for the market for your time outside you, this no place is by default of the greek τόπος utopian, but as we are myopic it is unavowed. So to be modern is to be beholden to an unavowed utopianism

The diminishing returns of the form of life of the consumer is revealed through the way intangibles become the domain within marketing. Your “values” will be co-opted whereby the dissatisfaction with the plight of the world can be used to generate value for the buyers journey you are still on. To buy with ones values does not remove yourself form this journey, it rather legitimises the extent of agency you inadvertently champion by having resource to “values”. But when values are givens, are demanded they be taken into consideration this enables the existential claim made on life to be concealed through the “intangible” of your time, as it is never brought to the fore. You never raise this as your values demonstrate the virtue of being a consumer. You essentially do not give your self credit, or the credit you give only extends as far as what you demand, which is another way of saying you are still a consumer. There is a substantive lack values cannot address, and this is simply the form of life you adhere to. To become conscious of this is to finally confront what you cant see, and so what you have always been beholden to, such that this revelation will give you the eyes to see how your actions have been ensnared in a myopia that allowed ecological and civilizational destruction. A spiritual disease that is virulent that goes undetected, especially when values are championed, as the pretext of change, of good obscures more than it reveals.

When values are leveraged there is an inherent complication that goes undiagnosed. When time becomes an economic good there is no place for the market for your time, you cannot be spatially oriented to a place distinct from yourself. When time is given this way it is the marginality of our labour and leisure we disinhibit, as time always remains an economic good irrespective of its marginality. To secure time as a supplement through its economisation means there is no place for the market for your time outside you, this no place is by default of the greek τόπος utopian, but as we are myopic it is unavowed. So to be modern is to be beholden to an unavowed utopianism, as it is individualised through the derivative form of time that is presupposed we fail to see what is staring us in the face, though our subdivided cities indicate the preexistent division that allows the division to be projected, or externalised, Eden has been immanentised to be sub divided. We are dumb. The myopia of being beholden to no place complicates values. When values are given in no place, they have no possibility to potentialise life, as the existential claim persists so sanctions the way of life that allows the places we share to be filtered through what we cannot see. As we do not resolve upon the existential claim of no place to temporalise place, so ground time the values touted can be considered empty as there is no substance to ground them as the value of your time predominates through the way the ideal of independence is leveraged. There may be the proclamation, yet the existential lack ensures they are hallowed out to signal a virtue that has no possibility of being actualised. Once again this is an issue of our form of life that is so marginal it would be a joke if its imposture wasn’t global and not the people making them as they are unaware of the mechanism that gives rise to values as the last good spruiked when the form of life of the consumer is nearing its exhaustion.

An aspiration yet to ground

There Is no consumer activism that can potentialise time beyond the economic good there is only a people that implements the product return of a form of life that no longer serves their aspirations

If the ills of consumerism conspicuous or otherwise is a compensation for an existential lack that is a direct consequence of a poverty of relating a market oriented way of life champions does the spruiking of values give you substance, when these same values can only be demonstrated with the substance you lack? Perhaps we can say values compensate for a consumption that is no longer externalised so feeds upon the remainder of our lives. When the diminutive form is such that all it has to orient with is what is beyond the self interest legitimised, the collectivisation of values means we do not give ourselves credit for valuing time the way we do, how we make good on it. As to be a consumer we are given credit for our wants, our want for life is seeking another way, an outlet, the aspiration is tangible yet is beholden to what we cant see. We cannot find the substance we lack, we have been hallowed out, the spirit is empty for the want of life remains so is leveraged through values we have recourse to, to demonstrate nothing but a diminishing return. So the signal of values is a sign of a lack though they are not gratuitous like conspicuous consumption, as they can be seen to be pointing to something in lieu of their grounding, they appear to signal a virtue. I have a sense of right, of the good, a moral compass of justice etc, yet the want makes the claim tenuous as there is nothing, in no place of substance to facilitate the aspiration, as we are ghostly to each other, nothing to ground it, or as we would say temporalise place for a common surpassing.

Values are always held in check or cleared against the preeminent good of our time. So if this value is not the domain of a praxis or action, the values subordinate to it, and they can be lofty, so justice, equality, take your pick, there is an existential claim made on them to be monetised or utilised to maintain the way and form of life to legitimise agency extends only as far as your demand for them. The bottom line of civilization is not money, but your time made into a line. You are to maintain the preexist marginality for an end, given in the way of this marginality. This entails practising economising action, to preserve the self or the exceptionalism you do not resolve upon when you maintain yourself as marginal, for it to be the domain of your wants. It is for this reason no good will can be animated to potentialise the relation. And so the buyers journey is the heroes journey of life, and the pricing mechanism will continue to be the arbiter of the future. There Is no consumer activism that can potentialise time beyond the economic good there is only a people that implements the product return of a form of life that no longer serves their aspirations. Conscious consumption as a movement has to evolve and be more than goods and services, but be about how we produce ourselves as consumers, so how we consume our time to no end, if not change will always be cleared against the price you put on it. And the cost the opportunity cost will be incommensurable as there is no end to creating beyond the presupposition of the limit you manage yourself by as it is a matter of life, but because you never thought you have a choice when it comes to your time you will never know, but you do — now.

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Lincoln Smith

I am a no one like you, amorphous, ready to be defined, to be brought forth, to be given credit for my want of life, so i can be a consumer of it.