Up the Ideology

My sequel to the TCT book is the (long) forthcoming attempt to explain why corporate capitalism is doomed by one of its core products, the private automobile.

As this doom approaches, the level of ideology in car advertising on U.S. television grows apace. It is already well into its whistling-past-the-graveyard stage, in fact.

Watch a football game or an evening of godawful sitcoms, and you’ll see claims such as Ford’s jive — couched in the mega-annoying “Introducing the _____” trend in which advertisers of everything from cars to candy bars have recently been trying to hype their wares — about how its latest sedan is “entirely new.” Yeah, sure, the worst of the nineteenth-century transportation inventions is somehow now not so stupid. Why? Because its patent idiocy is starting to breathe on some necks, so must be repositioned, to stave off proper perception for a few more months or years.

Then there is this one from the supposedly cutting-edge Honda corporation.

Things can always be better? Um, no.

10 Replies to “Up the Ideology”

  1. The people involved in these cinematic extravaganzas have to know that the product is lethal, in the same way that tobacco manufacturers came to understand that they could feel pride in killing people’s mothers, fathers, partners, children.
    The ancillary people are also up against the dead heart – the musicians that powered the electronica revolution, giving the world its best beats, samples, mood altering tunes, now supply their wares lto this despotic design of car ads. The house band for the apocalypse, Skeewiff, is happy to feature its big beats for some corporate fossil fueler – so is Jeff Bridges, Mr. Buddhist cool dude, a Marlboro Man shill for Hyundai.
    All you can do is talk back to these hipster fake-outs.

  2. So, when is the book coming out? Dates please, so we can hold you accountable ;P 🙂

    Martin, I’m not sure they are aware. You will be astounded by the power of ideology at the individual/personal level – in fact, the more educated the person, the better their ability to resist facts. My father in law has spent his life in business, first as a CEO, then as a small business douche. He has demonstrated more than sufficient capability to undestand counter-intuitive scientific concepts from physics, biology, etc.

    And yet, when it comes down to things like climate change, resource depletion, energy and enviromnental crises, he can efortlessly discount all of the above by regurgitating some talking point he has heard on FOX news. Or not – it doesn’t matter – he genuinely wants to believe it, so he does.

    Another personal example – a political science professor I know, a decent and smart person by any measure (and a Democrat – of course). Of all people, he has way above average knowledge about the history of this country, and about the attendant elite machinations. And yet, he is perfectly content is to frame them as “progress”, as “the founding fathers were imperfect BUT”, etc….

    In an atomized alienated society, the moving images on TV is all that matters. I honestly hope for a rapid and sudden collapse, rather than a protracted one. That way, we’d have at least a minimal chance to escape the inevitable fascist police state stage…

  3. Yup, you about encapsulated it, and by that, I mean it all.
    The edge.org yearly round-up is also fascinating – all these big thinkers, all these small ideas, many delivered with numbskull-level copy-editing mistakes – “loose” for “lose,” bad “it’s” all over – Still, I think the slow and protracted collapse is more the speed we’ll see.

  4. RE: “to stave off proper perception for a few more months or years.”

    I really wonder what is the rationale – be it implicit or explicit – to try to do so. The more we are in denial, the more sever and discontinuous the necessary transitions will be. If that is the case, I would think the first thing that would be challenged is precisely the issue of distribution of wealth and economic power. If that is the case, then why waste time trying to accumulate more playing by the old rules? If the rules are likely to change, what’s the point?

    I’m sure individual CEOs / capitalist feel like they have no choice, but come on – they know each other; the know what’s coming. Do they really think they will simply retire to their mansions while the world outside burns/decays? Just becayse you can keep some of the 7 billion outside of the gated communities some of the time, doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to do so with all of them, all of the time…

  5. Well, don’t forget that with great wealth comes great delusion. They really do think they can stay gated. They also tend to believe their own ideology, including the notion that some entrepreneur will invent the answer to it all. And the orientation to the short term is structured into the system. Finally, as Douglass rightly noted, power concedes nothing without a demand. They may not think there’s much of a future, either. But they ain’t giving up a nickel, either way. They earned it, in their minds. They are the job makers for all us takers. From them flows all hope and decency.

  6. Hard to swallow, but probably true. I am actually slowly beginning to doubt the notion that resource depletion and environmental problems can weaken the system – they may in fact end up strengthening it by providing good cover story/excuses as to why 1) we should all learn to accept less, 2) work harder, and 3) go to war.

    Nevermind that the technological and the organizational means exist right now to make the world a decent place for every single human in our lifetimes…

  7. TCT should do a MOOC, and as part of that, have a multimedia section. One recent candidate for the proposed TCT syllabus: “Detropia,” a bizarre lib-doc but right in line with this Honda ad, the curious case of art hipsters gentrifying US economic war zones, and on-line backlashes to “radical” popular art.
    In “Detropia,” economic collapse becomes a great place for post-collegiate art marketeers to find home and purpose, while community survivors expose thier bewilderment like seagulls caked with supertanker oil.
    The supersystem is what is left standing.

  8. Excellent idea, Martin, this MOOC (massively open online course) thing. I’ll try to get something like that together asap — though the “s” there may not be so “s,” due to my TROC (tuition-raking online course) commitments, plus the confounded car book…

  9. I would especially love to see a basic political economy course – the nature of labor, the economic surplus, the social relations in capotalist and non-capitalist societies, the role of the state etc.

    The basic facts are so simple, that, as J. K. Gallbraith would say (as he did in the context of money), they “repel the mind”.

    Although it took me forever to grasp them, I am increasingly convinced that they are indeed, simple – just ‘unspeakable’ in most polite educational or publishing contexts. But then again, maybe I’m wrong – it took the classical political economists lifetimes to make it so simple.

    (It would be nice if there were educational experiments on the topic – what percent of students, after honest and systematic exposure to the nature of capitalist societies leave the course genuinely terrified and/or angry)

  10. Well said, Marla. It is not very complicated, though it took a few centuries of fumbling (Renaissance to Marx?) before somebody was able to cut through enough of the royalist and religious malarkey to say that it’s all about labor, nature, and surplus wealth.

    As for people being exposed to reality, my experience is that almost everybody is receptive to it. In this society, which hasn’t witnessed much direct history lately and where TINA is so strongly and subtly insisted upon, I think most people leave with the knowledge in a side compartment, rather than angry. That things could be different seems like a story about another planet to most Americans, I’d say.

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