Today’s Obsession: The Opulence Bubble

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Photos: Flickr member ~Pyb

At Harvard Business Review a few of days ago, columnist Umair Haque, who is exploring new models of commerce with the Havas Media Lab, proposed that we are somewhere towards the end phase of what he calls an Opulence Bubble. His notion is that the entire twentieth century has been a superbubble—a massive artificial inflation of demand and industrial response and perception to go with that. So by his reasoning, the past few decades’ ridiculous obsessions with mammoth cars, enormous houses, and wall-sized flat-screen TVs were an the penultimate response to demand without actually looking at available resources. Now, that bubble’s bursting.

In his view, the next couple of centuries look about like they’re beginning to now: local, slower, more considerate of the surrounding world. I’m sure that would cause a chill in the bones of any dyed-in-the-wool capitalist. It also makes one ask how realistic pure capitalism without a sense of conservation actually has been—the last three centuries have shown quicker global and social expansion for humanity than the previous ones.

The piece is a little thick with rhetoric and stereotypes, but ignoring that, it’s a worthwhile read. This is long-ish, so save it to your Instapaper account.