The Myth of Choice

Choice as is presented to working-class consumers these days is an illusion. The capitalists present us with a choice between shit or shite. If we choose shit, they say it’s our fault we ended up with shit — we should have chosen shite instead. And vice versa.

I can buy Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, or any store’s own-brand cola-flavoured beverage-effect substance. They will all rot my teeth and make me fat (OK ….. fatter). Is that really a choice?

If I had a car, I could choose between Shell, Texaco, BP, Esso or a few other bands of petrol; but they’re all made from unsustainable fossil fuels. Is that really a choice?

I can choose where I get my electricity from. In theory. In practice, it’s exactly the same stuff. It comes down the same wires, from the same power stations. All the companies (basically, “middlemen” who buy electricity off the power generating companies — who won’t deal in small amounts, for no better reason than because they just hate counting small change — and then sell it to poor sods like you and me) seem to promise me lower bills than any of the others. But none of them can guarantee me that not one single joule of the electricity they supply to me will be generated by the criminally-insane method of burning natural gas, which is too useful a fuel in its own right to waste on centralised electricity production. Is that really a choice?

(I’m sure that one or more of them may offer an “offsetting programme”, where they charge me more money for electricity generated by gas and pay some sort of guilt-money, which (if it actually gets to its destination) is meant to be spent on planting trees or bribing some third-world peasant to irrigate his fields using a hand pump rather than a diesel pump. Trees may reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, with about a fifth of the efficiency of algae, but they won’t put that gas back under the ground (not for millions of years, at any rate); and I don’t begrudge third-world peasants the use of the machine tools that might actually help the luckiest ones end up as something other than peasants. However you dress it up, it’s Not The Same Thing.)

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