The Toyotathon Phenomenon — A Phenomenon Indeed!

Addled leftists have long stumbled around blaming “consumers” for being independently mentally ill and greedily destructive.

The seriously over-rated Herbert Marcuse, a leading pioneer of victim-blaming, capitalist-excusing pseudo-radical “cultural” analysis, wrote this in his magnum opus:

“If the worker and his boss enjoy the same television program and visit the same resort places, if the typist is as attractively made up as the daughter of her employer, if the Negro owns a Cadillac, if they all read the same newspaper, then this assimilation indicates not the disappearance of classes, but the extent to which the needs and satisfactions that serve the preservation of the Establishment are shared by the underlying population.”

All the “ifs” in this ridiculous string of hypotheses are as preposterous now as they absolutely were in 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, when Herr Marcuse was somehow passing himself off as a rebel, polishing this willfully obtuse crap up for the printer.

Herbie’s contention? No need to talk about classes, because the palookas are all corrupt anyway. Let’s just wring our hands about the “one-dimensional” stupidity of the whole of the masses. I say — bad show, my good man. Sniff, sniff, pass the cognac…

If you wonder why such familiar blame-everybody blather needs to be swept aside, take a look at what it excises from view — namely, elite brain-conditioning efforts such as the latest television ad campaign from the “moving forward” Toyota corporation.

Lovely, responsible stuff from the investors who would elsewhere have you think that buying a Prius solves the problem.

The Decrepitude Mounts

Utterly remarkable. Orwellian/Huxleyan almost beyond words. Peak Oil has arrived, or will VERY soon. Oil wars have already begun in earnest. The U.S. economy, and probably the whole world economy, has no answer to the former problem. The USA is actively working to ensure that the latter will continue and we’ll end up finding out whether Einstein was right that World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Meanwhile, what are the car capitalists doing? Check out Toyota’s shocking “Born of the Earth” advertising for its criminally wasteful Land Cruiser 200, a vehicle model that almost certainly spends less than 1 percent of its collective use-time doing anything resembling outback driving.

Remember this kind of material well, citizens. In 25 years, it will be recognized for the massive institutionalized depravity it is.

Robert Heilbroner used to say that “advertising teaches children that grown-ups tell lies for money.” We will soon have to explain to our own children that we sat by and allowed this outdated, infantile, pre-civilized practice — and the market-totalitarian technological and economic dictatorship its serves — to continue right up to the point of no return — or even beyond.

Kleenex Expressions & the Depravity of Capitalism

The United States lacks national health insurance, universally good and equal schools, a sustainable transportation system, and a government that responds to popular wishes.

The whole human race suffers from mass poverty, illiteracy, looming unaddressed environmental and energy crises, a severe paucity of trans-national democracy, and still-proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, how are the good folks over at Kimberly-Clark, one of the original U.S. mega-corporations, directing their firm’s entrepreneurial spirit? How are they allocating the reinvested portion, whatever it is, of the $16.7 billion in book profits K-C reaped in 2006?

Here you go:

another capitalist technological breakthrough! It’s “Kleenex Expressions” folks!

This, you see, is the latest manifestation of K-C’s ongoing efforts to do — what? To “leverage the strong emotional bond forged by K-C’s trusted brands,” in order to “transform insights and technologies into innovative, proprietary and profitable solutions that deliver superior returns to our shareholders.”

Now, you might think the scandal here is old and confined to the shocking waste of human and natural resources — as Helen Caldicott says, “Kleenex” (long a synonym for all paper mose-blowing tissues) is founded on the K-C-cultivated false claim that cloth handerkerchiefs are unsanitary — inherent in corporate capitalists’ long-running efforts to peddle egregious junk like paper tissues.

But that’s only part of the story. The rest of it has to do with the criminal wastefulness that routinely occurs via the BBM sub-discipline of “product management.”

As I explain in The Consumer Trap book, product management is the art and science of viewing the end commodity itself as a bundle of marketing stimuli, as a collection of spurs to profitable “consumer” behavior. In PM, first you run a focus group to discover the weaknesses and irrationalities that exist in the “target” audience of potential buyers. Then, you build a production line to manufacture objects to convert those weaknesses and irrationalities into corporate cash flows. The ecological and financial costs of the process to the end-users and the human race? Ought these to trouble us, since they increase our profits?”

So, here’s how Advertising Age reports on K-C’s latest PM endeavors:

Tony Palmer, CMO of Kimberly-Clark, at Ad Age’s Media Mavens event last week, answering a question about what he would like for Christmas. Mr. Palmer made it clear that he thinks marketers need agency partners that let ideas and consumer insights drive channel choices — rather than their existing departmental structures and revenue requirements. And he doesn’t think the industry is there yet, not by a long shot.

Mr. Palmer might sound like one of those change-agent types, but in the style of a good old-fashioned marketing man, he sat on stage and later wandered the halls of the Hilton proudly brandishing a box of his company’s Kleenex.

Or perhaps I should say an oval of Kleenex, for these were K-C’s “Expressions” in their tony, trademarked, almond-shaped container.

The oval might not sound like a big wow, but it was a significant innovation in the category. The move was designed to attract younger, design-conscious consumers who didn’t like having the old rectangular box sitting on their Kohler commodes. Reports suggest the boxes have been best-sellers and spurred some growth in a stagnant category.

But, as Mr. Palmer pointed out, they didn’t happen without ripping up existing processes, changing people’s job functions and investing heavily in a whole new production line. (Ad Age, December 3, 2007)

Beyond funding overclass financial speculation, offshore bank accounts, and third homes, this is how corporate capitalism now works. It picks the subconsciouses of deluded hipsters to “create” next-generation iterations of products that simply should not (and, under economic democracy would not) exist.  Such lovely stuff is what new factories get built for.  Not for feeding or housing the poor.  Not for restoring and modernizing the railroads.  Not for making parts for new schools.  Yes for “Hip Chick” Kleenexes.

Caligula and Nero were amateurs compared to this system’s murderous decrepitude.

“My”Space.com

It preys upon petty vanities. It passes itself off as real human interaction, which, along with corporate capitalism’s #1 form of bread-and-circuses, commercial TV, it helps crowd out in favor of time spent on “marketing platforms.” It is owned by the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s infamous media mega-conglomerate. Its ulterior purpose?

Take a look… The print version of this ad (see the latest edition of Advertising Age) ends by calling myspace.com “the world’s largest targeting platform.”  That, and not any desire to improve human life, is precisely its raison d’etre.  No more, no less.
There you have it.  Corporate espionage as “self expression.” “My” space indeed!

If you fall for this trick, you are feeding the devil, selling your soul for a plastic nickel. Don’t do it.

P.S. It also shows you how “new” the new media are. The hipster creeps who invent and run these things are, if anything, WORSE than the quiz show hucksters who preceded them.

Obfuscation Through Clarity

another Step right up, suckers, er, “consumers”! The overclass continues to lavish more of its booty on material and symbolic propaganda to disguise from the public the extreme dangers of the impending near-term death of its core product, the personal automobile.

The latest advance in this expanding shell game is yet another instance of that latest and greatest of unrecognized oxymorons, a “green car” — the Honda Clarity.

Orwell’s Big Brother would have creamed his Levis over this “Clarity” name, as the entire reason the “new” vehicle exists is to further trick you into hoping against hope that science will soon find a way to suspend the laws of thermodynamics that confine Earthlings to living with finite supplies of usable energy, thus magically/entrepreneurially rendering our autos-über-alles transportation order sustainable.

The Clarity, you see, is (breathe a baited breath!) an actual hydrogen-fuel-cell car! Oh, the rapture!

If you bother to investigate this phony breakthrough, however, you will see reality: Clarity and its “green car” cousins exist not to provide any viable answers to our energy-supply gathering troubles and the capitalist technological dictatorship that insist on ignoring them, but rather to convincing you (and perhaps also the more gullible among Honda’s investors) that hydrogen is somehow a new “alternative” source of energy. Of course, it is not, as admitted by none other than Jerry Hinkle, the president of the National Hydrogen Association:

“Hydrogen can be produced from a wide range of sources including natural gas, coal, water, wind, nuclear power and biological methods,” Hinkle says.

There’s exactly where the body is buried: Hydrogen, you see, is not lying around, ready to burn, in the ground or sky or anywhere else. On the contrary. For reasons of elementary chemistry and physics, hydrogen must always be stripped away from the other elements to which it inherently binds, at very high energy cost. To “liberate” hydrogen for burning in cars, it takes the same old quantities of the same old stuff — “natural gas, coal, water, wind, nuclear power and biological methods.” Those old energy sources, of course, are now both peaking and being very rapidly squandered. Hence, hydrogen cars are dead letters.

Nevertheless, if you’d like to ignore this simple inconvenient truth and help Honda and other corporate capitalists parade their murderous “green car” distractions, you can apply to be one of the lucky few to obtain a heavily subsidized lease for a Clarity. All it will cost you, after the subsidy, is — $600 a month, or a mere ten times the wage of a corporate factory worker in Nicaragua!

Ford’s Latest Lie: “All Things are Possible”

We humans are at or extremely near the top of the Peak Oil curve.

Alas, the corporate capitalist investors who dictate which technologies we may use are also intractably addicted to selling cars. They will continue to attempt to do so, no matter the costs, until we remove them from power.

Meanwhile, ponder the Huxleyan/Orwellian (that’s the worst-of-both-worlds character of our unchallenged, rampaging overclass) nature of the waste-pushing propositions they continue to foist upon us. The latest to strike my eye is Ford’s shocking attempt to sell people new cars by saving them 5 or 6 button-pushes a day: “Sync.”

Yes, friends, what we all need to do is boost “our” economy by spending $40,000 on another huge, toxic, petroleum-guzzling contraption, all so that we can turn on the stereo without having to move our fingers! “All things are possible,” say Ford and its partner-in-this-crime, Microsoft, as they announce this glorious breakthrough in human civilization!

Not only is this tag-line mega-laughable in this bought-and-paid-for, market-totalitarian madhouse of a nation, but it is also patently, egregiously, and especially relevantly untrue. The laws of thermodynamics that govern the known universe contradict the childish statement that “all things are possible.” Some things are possible. That’s it.

Meanwhile, very high on the list of impossible things in this universe is the sustainability of the USA’s auto-über-alles transportation order beyond another few decades, at most…