Chapter 4 The Consumers

 

The end of every economic activity is therefore the satisfaction of man's needs. When he satisfies his needs, man fulfills the function of consumer.

The man who is hungry, eats; he consumes food. If he is cold, he clothes or warms himself; he consumes clothing or combustibles.

In 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.

It 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.

A 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.

The 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?

It 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.

Production 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.

One 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.

Consumers 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.

 

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