Capitalism is extremely predictable, at least at the level of the managerial actions that drive its mundane operations. Thus, as we TCTers know, the great junk-pushing rite known as Christmas grows a bit every year. Hence, this unsurprising news from today’s edition of The New York Times:
Some of the nation’s biggest retailers — Sears, Target and Toys “R” Us among them — announced this month that they would be moving up their predawn Black Friday door-buster sales to Thanksgiving Day or moving up their existing Thanksgiving sales even earlier on Thursday. Walmart, which has already been open on Thanksgiving for many years, is advancing its bargain specials to 8 p.m. Thursday from 10 p.m.
But in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the stores will sit dark until the wee hours of Friday. Even Walmart will not open in Maine until just after midnight Friday or in Massachusetts or Rhode Island until 1 a.m.
New England’s blue laws were put down by early settlers to enforce proper behavior on Sundays. (The origin of the term is unclear. Some have said the laws were printed on blue paper, while others have said the word “blue” was meant to disparage those like the “blue noses” who imposed rigid moral codes on others.)
Over decades, many of those laws — which banned commerce, entertainment and the sale of alcohol, among other things — were tossed aside or ignored, or exemptions were granted. In some cases, the statutes were extended to holidays and barred retailers specifically from operating on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
All quite boring, except for this: If you go look at the story on the NYT site, you’ll notice its html title and the words that appear in your browser’s tab are this: “Blue Laws Curb Consumerism.”
So the inexorable march of Xmas marketing toward the Fourth of July is caused by consumerism — whatever that is, not capitalism?
Here you see the conceptual violence inherent in the system.
If you doubt such linguistic shifts matter, consider this lament from a local quoted by The Times:
“Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks for all you have,” said Mr. Brewster, 47, who runs a computer repair business. “I cringe to think what society is doing to itself,” he said of the mercantile mania that threatens one of the least commercial holidays.
“What society is doing to itself.”
Stalin and Hitler would be purple with envy at this amazing mental elision of a runaway ruling class.