Homo Consumericus

The nature and nurture of consumption

Be Thankful for Your Liberties and Freedoms

Thankful that the United States exists.

I wish to begin by extending a Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. In Canada, we celebrate the holiday much earlier in the season on the second Monday in October. If one were to administer a survey regarding the issues that people are thankful for, the likely top contenders would include good health, wonderful children, a loving partner, and a fulfilling job. Perhaps missing from such a list is the gratitude that Americans and Canadians alike should feel at being able to live in liberal democracies, that while far from being perfect, are the optimal ways by which to organize societies. Individual freedoms are the primary engine by which the pursuit of happiness can be maximally instantiated.

As someone who grew up in the Middle East and who was fortunate enough to escape the horrors of genocidal religious hatred stemming from the Lebanese civil war (see my earlier post regarding my childhood in Lebanon here), I am immeasurably thankful for the Western liberal values that allowed immigrants such as myself to flourish in a society without fear of being persecuted if not killed. Regrettably, over the past four decades or so, the West has been progressively slumping into an abyss of self-hatred (see my earlier post on this issue here) and a cancerous and self-destructive ethos of political correctness and more generally a departure from common sense (see my earlier post on this matter here). Amongst Western intelligentsia, to criticize if not loathe American values is viewed as progressive and liberal whilst to support brutal and intolerant religious and political ideologies is a hallmark of being enlightened. It is the freedoms afforded by America that permits Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguist and political activist, to spew endless antipathy toward the United States while championing astonishingly brutal regimes. Apparently, Professor Chomsky is unaware of what would happen to him (a Jewish man) if he were to live in Gaza and offer similarly trenchant criticisms of Hamas. Moral relativism has so infected the minds of Western intellectuals that they are now simply incapable of criticizing how others organize their societies (see my earlier post on moral relativism here). It is apparently gauche to do so. We should all reject such suicidal nonsense. A central feature of being a tolerant and just society is to be intolerant of ideologies that are contrary to our shared values of liberty, freedom, and equality. A pluralistic and free society functions well only if all of its members support its defining values (see my recent post here on the failure of multiculturalism as a political philosophy).

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So, on this Thanksgiving Day, let us reserve a small part of our thanksgiving pie to the wonderful liberal democracies that we call home. Let us never take our liberties for granted. They are repeatedly tested by nefarious ideologies and it is only through the vigilant defense of our Western liberal democracies that our great grandchildren will hopefully continue to flourish in free societies. I wish everyone a day of love and happiness (and minimal weight gain)!

Please consider following me on Twitter (@GadSaad).

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Gad Saad is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University and author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption and The Consuming Instinct.

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