In a way, markets can be seen as these nebulous, undefined, hypothetical spaces full of offerings, attempts to influence, and promises of how well our needs are going to be met. Until, that is, a decision is made and a deal’s been done. Then, things become very real.
It’s an interesting thought, I think. Clearly people invest a lot into that early phase: developing ideas; investigating how best to bring them to life; maybe setting up complex, international systems of production and distribution; looking at how to convince us to buy into things, what the right sales pitch might be etc. This vast system of inter-connected, mutually beneficial commercial activities that make up ‘the economy’.
And obviously it’s important stuff. It’s the kind of activity that gives rise to a need for workers to fulfil those functions; creating employment, revenue, and taxation streams that fund our individual requirements and collective infrastructures (see Notes One). Also, the same activity that’s giving rise to many of the ‘costs of living’ as we act in our capacity as consumers to choose from all that’s on offer (Notes Two).
Possibly a somewhat simplistic manhandling of complex economic realities, but it’ll probably suffice. Getting back to my point – how all that’s quite ‘imaginary’ until someone agrees to a transaction – there’s conceivably this sense in which everything hinges round our agreement. That’s the point where things get tangible as money changes hands, profit happens, and people potentially get used to things.
If we couldn’t be persuaded to buy, all that other stuff theoretically serves no purpose. It’s these moments of decision-making that make it something real, as individual and collective patterns of behaviour form these income streams around which everything else is built. Our points of commitment then becoming as these constellations of impending realities.
Why might that matter? Where within it all does power lie? Our lives clearly depend, in many ways, on what’s happening in the global marketplace: the stability of that world in turn becomes our stability, or otherwise. Yet it’s also very much dependent upon us, on our choices and the extent to which they can be anticipated, influenced, met, and possibly controlled (Notes Three).
Really, it must be a very integrated relationship. Our lives to such a great extent are defined, shaped, and assisted by economic realities. And the outworking of those realities generally revolves around the ins and outs of our lives. This complex, convoluted, contagious system of needs that’s serving us as much as the commercial entities effectively at the helm of it all.
That might be far too much to condense down into simplistic solutions for the state of modern society, but my essential point is that we’re the ones who decide. It’s something we, of course, tend to be aware of: keeping abreast of developments so as to make the most informed, intelligent decisions possible likely takes up a fair chunk of our free time. But I do wonder how consciously we evaluate all we’re agreeing to.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Obligations and contributions
Note 1: Business defining human life
Note 2: Tell me why I should
Note 2: Right to question and decide
Note 2: What we bring to life
Note 3: How we feel about society
Note 3: Cycles of mind & matter