Your Overclass at Work

The human race will need every synapse of its collective brain-power to figure out a way to escape the twenty-first century with its decency and some of its modern technology.

Meanwhile, how are our glorious corporate entrepreneurs laboring to serve our pressing needs in this coming struggle? In the usual manner: by trampling on them.

At the political level, they are absolutely obstructing us, as success in snatching decent survival from the closing jaws of the status quo will, of necessity, be very bad indeed for big business and the established fortunes it exists to serve.

As if this weren’t enough, however, as I’ve reported before, corporate planners are also busily using their own neocortexes to build “emotionomics” into the marketing operations by which they conduct the crucial day-to-day process of selling us products. Here is how they are learning to understand the human brain:

The business message being learned and applied, thanks to new advances in neuro-biology, in ever-greater detail is that:

Emotions are central, not peripheral, because they drive reason more than vice versa. In other words, we’re not nearly as rational as we would like to think we are. Our neuron-biological legacy means that emotions enjoy pre-emptive, first-mover advantage in every decision process. Conscious thought is only a small portion of mental activity. [Even] recall is emotional. [Dan Hill, Emotionomics]

The idea inside the marketing juggernaut that utterly dominates the way we ordinary Americans spend our “free time” is that the subordinate biological place of rationality is a very good thing, as it leaves so many openings for profit-seeking manipulation of the underlying population of “targets.” Bang, bang — out go the lights! Hence, SOP in corporate enterprise is to strive to ensure that the sway of reason remains small and secondary.

History, should we survive this still-growing assault on our most basic need, will not look kindly upon the sponsors and practitioners of “emotionomics.”

Emotionomics: A Noteworthy “Revelation” of Market Totalitarianism

Capitalism’s apologists have always painted their allegedly history-ending system as the anti-thesis of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism, of course, is the sort of modern social order in which a ruling elite tries to control all aspects of life among its underlying population, especially via threats and appeals to forms of propaganda-induced unreason.

Capitalism, they say, is the opposite of totalitarian, as it is inherently not just respectful of, but actively encouraging of, the advancement of independent self-interested calculation and free choice among the masses.

Alas, they lie.

As Noam Chomsky says, in the real world, capitalists hate the kinds of competitive “markets” classically assumed by Adam Smith. Those “classic” (and purportedly still-extant) situations are simply not conducive to maximizing owners’ profits, as they tend to require price- and management-minimization. Because of these noisome pressures, amid the Great Depression of the 1870s-1890s, the overclass used its clout to launch the corporate age. Capitalism quickly became corporate capitalism.

By the 1920s, the overclass began to realize that diverting some of its bounteous new corporate cash flows into managing not just workers, but also off-the-job behavior settings could, if well and carefully done, become yet another source of ROI.

In the 1950s, accelerating movement in this direction yielded the breakthrough now known in boardrooms and business schools as “the marketing revolution.” Ever since its consolidation — most especially in the core selling zones created by a combination of early capitalist plunder and employment patterns, mid-20th-century democratic footholds, and the need to bolster the Cold War storyline — corporate capitalists have devoted ever-growing budgets to managing the realm of what we uninformed commoners still quaintly think of as our “free time.”

With this in mind, over the coming weeks, I will help you take a look at Emotionomics, a new book in which corporate consultant Dan Hill reports and muses on the growing practice of corporate “neuromarketing.”

Here’s the overall context:

Described by marketing super-guru Philip Kotler as “a revelation,” the book not only tips the hand of core big business marketing attitudes and methods, but it is indeed a “revelation” — an especially clear, not-for-public ears enunciation of the true voice of corporate capital.

Hill’s core revelation is a naked, un-self-conscious admission of the reality of market totalitarianism at the heart of corporate capitalist normalcy.

Hill, whose “blue-chip clients have included Target, Toyota, GlaxoSmithKline, Allstate, and Kellogg, among many others,” counsels his audience of corporate planners to once-and-for-all stop kidding themselves about the “world’s love affair with rationality”:

Breakthroughs in brain science have revealed that people are primarily emotional decision-makers…Emotions are central, not peripheral, to both marketplace and workplace behavior. As a result, companies able to identify, quantify, and thereby act on achieving emotional buy-in or acceptance from consumers and employees alike will enjoy a tremendous competitive advantage.

It doesn’t get much plainer than that: both workers and “consumers” are objects of detailed, ongoing, essentially emotional managerial control campaigns.

As Noam Chomsky also frequently points out, big business corporations are “unaccountable private tyrannies.” These days, they are also getting increasingly clear amongst themselves about the classical nature of their tyranny: Stripped of the standard self-congratulating, self-excusing managerial jargon, this nature is nothing less than pure totalitarianism.