A colleague has lent me a copy of Oliver James’ book “Affluenza” and, while I am not far through it yet, it is scathing in its damnation of the effects of capitalism on individuals in society. At a time when capitalism is rapidly losing it shine on a global scale, with the financial sector collapsing around us, this individual perspective is an interesting small scale counterpoint to the large scale picture we are seeing on the news each day.
The thesis of the book is that an “affluenza virus” has spread thoughout English-speaking countries. This virus leads us to be obsessively focused on shallow material pursuits. At the same time, it leaves us anxious and prone to low self-esteem, addictions and depression as there is always someone with a faster car or a bigger cigar (to quote The Beautiful South).
Today’s Sun-Herald has a piece entitled “Turning Water into Wine“, which reports that the prestigious Kable’s restaurant in Sydney’s Four Seasons hotel has launched its first “water menu”. Here you get a tantalising array of choices for how to flush your money away. My favourite is a 750mL bottle of Cloud Juice rainwater from King Island for a mere $20! At first I thought it must be a joke, straight out of an episode of Penn and Teller‘s take-no-prisoners, nonsense-busting series, Bullshit.