The programmed obsolescence of objects

In 1970, Jean Baudrillard already described, in the consumer society, one of the foundations of our wasteful societies: « Chat is produced today is not produced according to its use value or its possible duration, but on the contrary according to its death, whose acceleration is matched only by price inflation. (…) However, we know that the order of production survives only at the price of this extermination, of this perpetual calculated « suicide » of the park of the objects, that this operation rests on the technological « sabotage » or on the disuse organized under the sign of the fashion « . This « technological sabotage », this programmed obsolescence, is described by Serge Latouche in his book Bon pour la casse and explains its deep link to growth:  » The starting point of programmed obsolescence is the addiction of our productive system to growth. Our society has tied its destiny to an organization based on unlimited accumulation. Whether we like it or not, we are condemned to produce and consume more and more « . Programmed obsolescence is therefore not a detail of our growth societies, but their « absolute weapon ». because to refuse the fashion, to protect oneself from the advertising attack, to banish the ostentatious consumption, that remains possible under certain conditions, but one cannot repair, or with difficulty, devices which carry in their « genes » their programmed destruction. Describing the origin of the expression and its foundations, the fact that it is so little known, and the solutions to remedy it, the author necessarily flies over the history of the consumer society, relying in his analysis on some of its great thinkers (Thorstein Veblen, Stuart Ewen, Paul Lafargue, John Kenneth Galbraith…), the book poses a major question: isn’t programmed obsolescence, profoundly destructive of life, the obsolescence of man himself? To get out of it, we must be able to marvel at what the one that programmed obsolescence destroys a little more every day offers us: nature. 

Serge Latouche,  » Bon pour la casse. les déraisons de l’obsolescence programmée « , éditions les liens qui libèrent, 2012 

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