good read: on class privilege

good reads

I recently read a thought provoking OpEd article in the New York Times on when it’s ‘cool’ to have nothing.  It referenced Simply Fully’s blog post on minimalism and class privilege.  It’s authors highlight how the image of having very little is shaped by where one begins.  A rich man who sheds all his belongings gets praise, admiration and cool factor while one who has very little and started out that way is looked down upon and considered lazy; he is the ‘involuntary minimalist’.  I personally think this criticism is a narrow point of view and ultimately misses the point.  I have definitely met plenty of people living below the poverty line and been inside their homes and saw closets full of clothes and spaces full of clutter.  In the U.S., we need not be rich to have a lot of stuff.  But I do think there is value in talking about this.  Definitely had me take a step back and critically think about my own lifestyle choices in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  As always, I find the reader comments section the most interesting of all.  Here are some of the comments that resonated with me:

ohura writes “This article and comments make much of motive–  are you minimalist because it’s fashionable or because you can’t afford more. Irrelevant. Having more than you need is waste, isn’t it? Why should we waste? Why should we have what we don’t need regardless of age or socioeconomic status?”

D writes: “Minimalism is just something else to sell like the extremely expensive modernist homes in magazines which no one I know can afford. The selling of minimalism utilizes the same angle of channeling desire, or more to the point, creating dissatisfaction with what you ‘have’.”

and my favorite comment of all, from mead1:  “This article misses a generational nuance. For the young, minimalism is not “getting rid of stuff” – it is choosing not to acquire much in the first place. This is a far less morally ambiguous choice than middle age minimalism, which generally requires off-loading decades of acquired belongings, a process which in itself has detrimental environmental consequences even when one is recycling or donating belongings. Conscious initial consumption, as opposed to conspicuous deacquisition, is a choice that can be made — and applauded — at any end of the socioeconomic spectrum.”

Amen!

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