“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…

The View from Xmas 1928…er…2007…

The U.S. overclass responded to Vietnam, Watergate, the great democratic cultural quickening of the 1960s, and the economic stagflation of the 1970s by clearing its collective head and tapping a new generation of war-mongering “trickle-down” ideologues to run the state for it.

Ever since, the rich have been dancing from victory to victory, socking away ever-more cash and goodies, and creating new bubbles when old ones pop — as they inevitably do, since new elite “investments” are now usually only loosely related to the employment of proletarians.

The ensuing quarter-century poker game, though, looks like it is breaking up. The red-eyed 4:00 a.m. headache has arrived. Capital has won all the money, and even in the business system’s core selling zones, the bottom four-fifths are simply too broke to borrow any new chips. Banks and “mortgage companies” are unwilling to extend third (sub-sub-prime) “home equity” loans to those needing, once again, to “consolidate debt.” Instead, all the remaining non-elite “equity” is gone and the chits are finally hitting the fan.

Evidence of this barely deniable (hence, in the corporate media, still massively denied) reality abound. The role of this blog is not to dwell too long on the underlying political economy, but simply to pass along a special branch of the evidence on this topic.

To wit: This item from a story on the worsening implosion of corporate ad spending (itself a major indicator of trouble, as BBM growth always, always outpaces the overall economy) in the latest Advertising Age Mediaworks newsletter:

If you’re in the market for good news, keep an eye on venues for luxury advertising. “We’re seeing our bookings coming in earlier than the same time last year,” said Gina Sanders, VP-publisher, Teen Vogue. “There are no huge storm clouds we see. And at this point last year we were already aware of some non-returning business. No such issues seem to be on the horizon.”

“Our fourth quarter was up 17% in ad pages,” Ms. Sanders added. “It’s my hope that that momentum is going to carry forth into the first quarter.”

[T]he trouble with technology and automotive advertising can be increasingly offset by that familiar bright spot: luxury. “There is a new age of affluence out there,” [a Fortune magazine representative] said, citing recent account wins such as Four Seasons and Cathay Pacific Airways. “Fortune is covering the business of luxury, and I think that we will try to capture some more lifestyle advertisers.”[Advertising Age Mediaworks, December 3, 2007]

Translation: Game over. The rich have “won.”

Good luck to them (OK, not really), and to us, and to the billions who will never get a chance to default on a “consumer” loan. We’ll all need it, sooner rather than later.

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.

Beyond Poseur Politics: An Open Letter to Adbusters

logo Adbusters is impressive in many ways. It has made some waves, and its founder and CEO Kalle Lasn has some smart things to say, such as calling advertising “brain damage” and “one of the most powerful cultural forces in the world.”

Many of Adbusters’ “spoof ads” have also been indisputably brilliant.

And, as reported in this week’s Advertising Age magazine, Adbusters has also pulled some clever pranks that underscore the purpose and workings of the commercial media. Whenever Adbusters tries to buy airtime on corporate TV for its “anti-consumption” ads, for example, it draws and then publicizes telling (if entirely predictable) replies such as this:

“Suck it up, it’s the real world,” an ABC executive is recorded angrily and loudly rejecting the pig spot a few years ago. “There’s no law that says we have to sell you time.” (Advertising Age, November 27, 2007)

100,000Finally, subscriptions to Adbusters have also now surpassed 100,000, a very substantial feat for a non-capitalist publishing effort.

Analysis

Does all this mean that Adbusters is making progress toward its stated goal, which is “to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century”?

Alas, it definitely does not, and here are the major reasons why not:

Read moreBeyond Poseur Politics: An Open Letter to Adbusters