The intensification of the anti-consumer surge is connected to Marxist ideas as Marxists are “repackaging themselves” as anti-consumerists. Marxism presumed that capitalism would take the working class into economic despair, and yes, Karl Marx was right. In addition, what capitalism has also done is produce countless amounts of wealth and has recycled it to oppress the masses.
In “Lumber Jerks”, a classic episode from the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes, we learn about how The Goofy Gophers, Mac and Tosh, walk to their home tree after a day’s work only to discover that it was cut down and taken away. Of course, Mac and Tosh then attempt to recover their tree, which they refer to as their property, tracing it to a river and identifying it from the many tree logs the find floating on the water. As they proceed to get on their own log and row, row, row their tree, gently down the stream, it’s very hard for them to combat the river’s current and almost fall down a waterfall.
Once they resist the fall, one of the goofy gophers says, “I am bushed!” and they both fall asleep, waking up as they enter a wood mill, luckily enduring a saw that cuts their home tree in two. Experiencing the devastation around, Mac and Tosh express the evident impact of capitalism: “It looks like they are bent on the destruction of our forests”. The next scene illustrates trees grounded into sawdust to become artificial fireplace logs. The following one depicts the “sharpening” of A WHOLE TREE in order to produce ONE TOOTHPICK (talk about disrespecting nature and its cycles in time!). And that is when Mac and Tosh drastically learn what happened to their home tree: “They’re going to make furniture out of our tree!”
Albeit learning what will happen to their home tree, Mac and Tosh still want to regain what is their own: “That is definitely our property. We must think of a way to repossess it.”
Thus, they proceed to drain off the gas out of the truck that transports the newly made furniture and take with them their home tree (now converted into desks, chairs, dressers, tables …). Mac and Tosh rebuild their house with the furniture that came out of the annihilation they witnessed.
Do the goofy gophers escape the oppressive mass producing world outside their home tree? Not really, no.
Consumerism vs. Nature
They end up placing a TV at the top of their “renovated” home tree saying: “Isn’t our home much better than it was before? We have television now! And just think how much better it will be with electricity!”
Well, it seems that Mac and Tosh will end up becoming consumers. They echo the uncertainty of Marxist anti-consumerists: how to negotiate with capitalism and its impact on the “natural and human worlds” without becoming trapped in it? Marxism is not about demonizing production (we need to produce) but the issues are really questions of who decides what is produced, how it is produced (to what extent, to whose expense) and who and what is benefited or harmed? And, very importantly,it is crucial to see how consumerism (the need and want to consume) is also produced as well.
“Labor is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate,
and in which man of his own accord
starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and Nature.
He opposes himself to Nature as one of her own forces,
setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, the natural forces of his body,
in order to appropriate Nature’s productions in a form adapted to his own wants.
By thus acting on the external world and changing it,
he at the same time changes his own nature.”
Also see (http://www.supercartoons.net/cartoon/676/lumber-jerks.html)