Thesis and Introduction
Concerning the issue of consumerism, some people believe that consumerism has a major influence over our sense of self, while others feel that consumerism has no control over our individuality. According to Fight Club, a novel written by Chuck Palahniuk, it states that individualism breaks down in a controlled society. Specifically, Palahniuk also argues that counter-culture, such as the cult following that Tyler Durden has, also takes away individuality. His views, thus, are that individuality is taken away, no matter the type of controlled society or system.
I somewhat agree with Palahniuk's views. In my view, individuality can be broken down if a person gets too indoctrinated into a system. For instance, Tyler Durden's after-hours Fight Club breaks men down through violence, then builds them back up through the dogma fed to them by Tyler Durden. Some might object, of course, on the grounds that those men have the free will to refuse to participate in Fight Club. Yet, I would argue that those men are already broken by the society they live in, disillusioned and looking for release from their repetitive, materialistic lives. Overall, I believe that they are already prone to have their individualism taken away--an important point to make given that this parallels many different events and tragedies throughout the course of history.
In the modern society that we live in today, consumerism is the almighty, the Alpha and Omega. We purchase all of the things that we need through the money earned from our career/profession/job, completely oblivious that we are in a never-ending cycle that brings little joy. Even entertainment is centered around consumerism, with brand labels and advertising taking precedence over the content itself. Through the practice of consumerism, we start to lose the sense of who we are, as our worldly possessions start to take more precedence over our individualism. According to Chuck Palahniuk's novel Fight Club, individualism breaks down in light of a controlled system, such as modern society's consumer-driven system, or counter-culture's dogmatism.
Palahniuk makes a valid argument; near the start of the novel Fight Club, the protagonist makes the point of listing all of the furniture that he used to own, now blown to kingdom come due to a "gas leak" in his apartment. The destruction of all of his personal property is tragic, but liberating, as the protagonist admits it himself: "And I wasn't the only slave to my nesting instinct. The people I know who used to sit in the bathroom with pornography, now they sit in the bathroom with their IKEA furniture catalogue." (Palahniuk, 43) The destruction of his home is the catalyst to form Fight Club, which serves to liberate men, but to also break them down in order to serve Tyler Durden, the enigmatic creator of Fight Club. Sound familiar? Modern society and the counter-culture of Fight Club both destroy the individuality of the men who are indoctrinated into it, meaning that there is little difference between the two. Palahniuk's message is both critical and honest: Individuality is the first casualty of an ordered system.