by Leo Babauta
Minimalism isn’t just about having fewer possessions or developing a beautifully minimalist aesthetic. It’s a striking out against the corporations that are increasingly in control of our lives.
Every aspect of our lives have been pervaded by corporations. We eat not just fresh, simple food grown from local farms, but processed food (sometimes “organic” processed food) packaged by corporations, or fried up at chain restaurants. Coffee brewed by Starbucks. Computers made by Apple. Programs from Microsoft and Adobe. Shoes by Nike, clothes by Gap, homes by Crate & Barrel. We spend time at the malls, watch TV shows and movies made by major entertainment conglomerates, read books and magazines and newspapers by those same conglomerates, listen to our iPods, watch on the iPad, talk on the iPhone or Blackberry, get our email through Google or Apple, say hello on Facebook, get our news from CNN and The New York Times Company, do our workout at Gold’s, eat our Weight Watchers, connect via Verizon.
And yes, I’m a part of this.
What part of our lives isn’t controlled by corporations? A tiny portion, one that’s shrinking rapidly.
Minimalism is a way to shake free of those shackles, slowly. It’s a way of saying, “I don’t need to buy more, to work more in order to get more of your products and services. In fact, I can be happy, content, joyful, creative without spending a single dime. All I need is the sun and the trees and the water and a good friend.”
Minimalism is finding ways to live that aren’t controlled by the corporations. A human being is a living, feeling complex organism whose single goal is the perpetuation of its genes through survival and reproduction. A corporation is a non-living, non-feeling complex organization whose single goal is earning more profits for its shareholders. And while I’m not against making money, I do think that the pure profit motive isn’t always compatible with our survival interests as human beings.
Consider: a corporation wants to maximize profits, and to do so it will often cut corners, endangering our health and the environment. It will deceive us so that we will spend our money on its products. It will treat its employees horribly, to cut costs and drive up production. It will treat living, feeling animals like objects to be manufactured, cut up, processed, fried and packaged, ignoring the suffering of those animals because profits matter, not compassion.
It will happily make us fat, because it knows that selling fried food devoid of nutrition is good for profits, while we die from heart disease and diabetes and cancer. Our earth is being devastated, which is good for profits but not for us as humans.
It’s time to stop this madness. The corporation is a hungry beast, and we keep feeding it. Let’s walk away, and let it die from hunger. Let’s free ourselves, and create a world where living things are more important than profits.