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Producers & Consumers

There's an interesting article by Brett & Kate McKay  over at The Art Of Manliness on the much-discussed  topic of male maturity (or lack thereof). It's better than interesting. Despite some points of disagreement, I found it to be one of the most insightful and inspirational pieces I think I've ever read on the web.

The article first addresses the problem of defining maturity in a man when gender roles have changed so much and still change so frequently. The old model of getting married and being a breadwinner is not widely accepted as a marker of maturity anymore. What the McKays propose instead is that maturity is shown by a shift from consuming to producing. (Note that this can include the old milestone, since the married man effectively produces a living for his wife and children.) 

I found the article as a repost on lewrockwell.com, which makes sense. Of course a site founded by Austrian economists would link to an article that defines manliness and maturity in terms of preferring production over consumption.

While I agree with the article on the importance in a man's life  of producing and creating, I think it goes too far in blaming consumerism. Certainly men often define themselves too much by the gadgets they own, and this keeps many from reaching their full potential. But what is the point of producing something that is never consumed? Included is a lengthy selection from the book Shop Class As Soulcraft, which states that " the consumer’s vaunted freedom within it might be understood as a tyranny of the majority that he has internalized". No. Even though there are lots of tempting gadgets out there, it's possible to not  buy them.  I didn't own a cell phone until 2006, and still don't have an IPhone. And I am not exactly a model of frugality or self control.

I blame much of the problem on the denigration of the work ethic by so many pop philosophers and self-help gurus. We're told we define ourselves in terms of our jobs too much. There are many worse ways to define yourself. And if you work hard all day, you don't have time to come up with asinine  sayings like "I am a human being, not a human doing." If defining yourself in terms of working is bad, how much worse is it to define yourself in terms of the fact that you exist? People should have more ambition than that.

And I hope I am cogent enough on my death bed to say "I wish I had spent more time at the office." Just to spite those new age morons.

In spite of these quibbles, I found the article to be very engaging and thoughtful. And it was inspiring. That's why I made this entry instead of playing around on facebook.