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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