Sugar & Pets

Mars, Incorporated, which makes profits from selling candy and pet supplies and services, wants you to see yourself as a hero of human civilization for keeping a pet dog. Of course they do!

In the process, you are asked to forget that George Washington was a major slave-owner, a fact that rather overshadows whatever love he may have had for dogs, and that it was certainly not snowing on October 4 in Germantown, which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Ah, but in the ongoing reign of Patriotic Correctness, it was always snowing on our ragtag tepeed pure-of-heart Heroes, wasn’t it?

“Follow the flattery,” says Leslie Savan.

“How strong, deep, or sustaining,” wondered Robert Heilbroner, “can be the values of a civilization that generates a ceaseless flow of half-truths and careful deceptions?”

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How Commodification Happens

Tile-remote Corporate capitalism is history’s biggest and most successful form of totalitarianism. Properly defined, totalitarianism is any modern, industrial social order in which the ruling class endeavors to control the details of all three of modern, industrial life’s experiential spheres. These spheres are politics, the economy/paid work, and leisure.

In corporate capitalism/market totalitarianism, elite administration of leisure-time activities is carried out competitively, as a routine business activity, via marketing campaigns. The methods deployed in the effort are meticulous and lavishly funded. Given the profitability of successful redesigns of existing off-the-job habits, their pursuit is systemic and zealous. As the investing class continually seeks such successes, the outcome is ever-advancing commercialization and commodification of ordinary citizens’ personal lives.

One recent example of the basic process is the rise of the new product known as “Tile.” This is a radio-signal-sending tab that users attach to objects in order to be able to use their cellular telephones to find those objects when they become lost somewhere in the densifying galaxy of clutter that results from market totalitarianism’s normal operation. One example of Tile in action? Using your cell phone to find your television’s remote control.

The logic behind this (cough) great advance in human technology is simple. As Tile’s Chief Marketing Officer explains it to Advertising Age, “[W]e have roughly 90% share of this category that we created, but it’s still a low awareness category and there’s an opportunity to build a really meaningful brand in this space.”

Viewed sociologically, corporate capitalism abhors and moves to fill all un- and under-commodified spaces.

As noted by Tim Wu, the methods, results, and lack of countervailing attention and alarm enjoyed by the agents and primary beneficiaries of the process “would have made a Soviet-era spy blush.”

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Concentration and Centralization

As the continuing Reagan Revolution reaches its Drumpfian apotheosis, the always-undiscussed actually dominant institutions continue their normal development, with all the standard, dire consequences. To wit, here’s a visual from my present work on cars-first transportation. The sources here are Fortune magazine and the U.S. Census Bureau. Please don’t reproduce this image without respecting the CC 4.0 attribution limits linked beneath it.

Note that I chose 1994 as the middle case because that was the first year in which Fortune included service-sector corporations in its “Fortune 500” reports. 1954, meanwhile, was the first year covered by such reporting.


cc-license CC BY-NC-SA

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Cultural Heroes

nero fiddle In the year 2017, in a world that needs to solve its problems of runway wealth maldistribution/population growth, ecological non-sustainability, and politico-military chaos, what are the leading lights of corporate capitalist innovation worrying about and working on? This, per Advertising Age:

“This is a unique moment in the ad industry,” Mr. Joe Marchese said. “If we don’t work together, ad-free models will continue to proliferate.”

“We are trying to figure out how to create new models that transfer attention more efficiently,” said Fox TV marketer David Levy.

“We know there is a need to lower the ad load because we inundated consumers and they are now tuning out and blocking,” said Helen Lin, president-digital investment and partnership, Publicis Media U.S. “When you increase the number of ads, your lift potential is reduced. We know we have to do something before consumers completely block out.”

Lovely, ain’t it?

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