Chapter 4 — The Consumers
end of every economic activity is therefore the satisfaction of man's
needs. When he satisfies his needs, man fulfills the function of
man who is hungry, eats; he consumes food. If he is cold, he clothes or
warms himself; he consumes clothing or combustibles.
an order where the end governs the means, it is man as consumer who is
in charge of all of the economy. And since every man is a consumer, it
is every man who contributes to orienting the production and
distribution of goods.
is for man, the consumer, that every economic activity exists. Man, as a
consumer, must therefore organize production himself. It is he, the
consumer, who must give his orders to the producers.
really human economy is social, as we said; it must satisfy ALL men. So
ALL and EACH must be able to give their orders to the production of
goods — at least to satisfy their basic needs, as long as production
is in a position to respond to these orders.
needs of consumers — who can express them appropriately, if not the
consumers themselves? This man, this woman, here in this apartment, over
there at the door of their house, somewhere else in town, in the
countryside, wherever they may be, whoever they may be — who can know
their needs better than they themselves?
is each consumer who knows his own needs. Therefore it is from each
consumer that productive capacities must get orders. In a system really
organized at satisfying the needs of consumers — of all consumers —
all the consumers must have the means of expressing their needs, of
ordering goods that answer these needs.
is unjustified in taking its orders from other sources than the
consumers' needs. This is nevertheless what happens when a firm puts
pressure upon the consumers to push them to buying things for which they
do not in the least feel a need. Then production takes its orders, not
from the consumers, but from the search for profits.
admits that irrational consumers, animals, men who do not have the use
of their faculties or the sense of their needs, require outside
intervention to dictate what they should get. But rational beings can
determine their own needs.
must therefore be able to freely order useful goods for the satisfaction
of their normal needs. Whatever may be the nature of the means adopted
to express these orders, the orders must be able to come from the
consumers as long as there are, on the one hand, unsatisfied normal
needs, and, on the other hand, goods to satisfy these needs.