Post-Materialism is the ongoing transformation of individuals and society which liberates them gradually from the stress of basic acquisitive or materialistic needs. Post-materialists give high priority to values such as more citizen input in government decisions, the ideal of a society based on ideas instead of money, and maintaining a clean and healthy environment, rather than to values associated with the philosophy of materialism such as economic growth, a strong national defense, and “law and order”.

One generalization about the things troubling the world at present is that materialism is causing much of the ills being experienced in the global community. Systems such as capitalism emphasize on amassing the highest profits at the lowest cost and (many times) even if such measures will negatively affect the environment, human lives, or other barriers to attaining higher profits. A recent study showed something that in hindsight seems quite obvious…that low self esteem increases materialism, and materialism can also create low self-esteem. Such frightening conclusions have lead to the striving towards a post-materialist world.

Shifting to a Post-Materialist World

A shift to post-materialist values will likely gain momentum as people, governments, and corporations take the following steps:

  • Realize that materialist values make for less happy lives
  • Identify and promote things in life that matter more than economic growth
  • Understand and experience the nature of the oneness and interconnectedness of all things and people
  • Face implications of population & consumption growth for pollution, climate change & environmental destruction

Post-Materialism for a Brighter Future

As the Czech poet-president Vaclav Havel once said, “If the world is to change for the better it must have a change in human consciousness”. Humanity must discover “a deeper sense of responsibility toward the world, which means responsibility something higher than self [or the ego]“. Close and supportive relationships are a key element in an individual’s well-being, not a new car or some other material possession.

One of the benefits of the current global economic crisis is that lesser focus on material possessions that is occurring and more focus towards interpersonal relationships and experiences which no along with those close relational ties. The states of consciousness such as peace, love, and happiness can be achieved more often and for greater periods of time when human beings understand that a post-materialist world that will ensure a sustainable and survivable future is the best path to take at such a critical decision point in humanity’s timeline.