Marching Orders

TCT got started by pointing out the relationship between marketing and mainstream politics in the United States. Since power concedes nothing without an adequate demand, this has hardly changed in the past 12 years.

As a service to your own sanity in this latest season of “politics,” TCT encourages all its friends to acquaint themselves with the Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future.

This front group is the obvious-but-unreported locus from which the petty-elite that still runs the Democratic Party takes its main position in the upcoming 2020 marketing contest.

The nature of the thing is not difficult to discern, for those few of us lucky enough to know how to locate the relevant facts within our corporate media ecology’s maelstrom of distractions and diversions.

With Joe Biden, the DP elite is showing itself to be entirely willing to lose the next election by running the most hagged-out candidate in its long history of running hagged-out candidates, rather than sever such ties.

This, in the year 2020, against the supposedly hated Trump.

Shameless

Ah, Procter & Gamble corporation, you know no limits. Truly and completely shameless.

Some actual human beings worked on this campaign to literally turn forests into corporate dividends by researching — can you imagine doing this?!?! — and promoting this uber-self-parody for an entire late-imperial overclass. These people will do absolutely anything for another dollar.

Public Enterprise: Topic Not Completely Verboten

It’s hard to know what to make of such an event, which speaks volumes in several directions, not least being the patent idiocy of Donald John Trump and his many almost-all-white friends.

Nonetheless, Trump’s AG (itself a comical phrase), William Barr, is now talking about the United States purchasing controlling interests in Ericsson and Nokia.

Yahoo reports:

“American ownership of a controlling stake, either directly or through a consortium of private American and allied companies,” [Barr] said.

“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power.”

“We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach.”

You, the loyal TCT reader, may have noticed something here: There is no mention, either in Barr’s statement or in the press coverage, of such ownership ruining the resulting endeavors.

How is it, you might wonder, that the public could possibly own and operate a competitive organization endeavoring to supply useful goods and services?

The answer, of course, is that it is possible for the public to own and operate a competitive organization endeavoring to provide useful goods and services.

The problem is that such possibilities are almost always unmentionable, due to the nature of existing power and privilege.

Every once in a while, though, an inept elitist will tip the overclass hand.

Class Paralysis

It’s behind a paywall, but Catalyst, the Jacobin spinoff, has an interesting piece titled “An Agenda for Class Analysis,” by sociologist Göran Therborn.

It is a reworked paper from a conference paying homage to the late, not-so-great Erik Olin Wright, who spent an entire academic career dithering unhelpfully around the edges of the topic of social class. In his prolix and stumbling efforts, Wright set a certain standard for careerist game-playing, for which he was repeatedly, deftly, and humorously (albeit, in effect on the subject, fruitlessly) taken to task by Russell Jacoby.

In this Olin-Wrightishly underwhelming Catalyst piece — which, by the way, provides nothing like an agenda for doing class analysis in this epochally troubled, massively class-oppressed century — Therborn basically admits that Erik Olin Wright spent all his supposedly analytical energy worrying about stillborn ideas like “class boundaries” and “contradictory class locations.” Therborn also comes very close to saying that Wright himself indulged in the very social-scientific “grantsmanship” and reputational grooming he ought to have rejected.

The main point Therborn misses in his near-take-down of Olin Wright is the plain fact that Olin-Wright always steamrolled over superior/classic views of what class analysis was, is, and could be. But such views were never very compatible with the “mainstream quant-sociology” Olin Wright fancied himself cracking into.

As it stands, it remains utterly remarkable how little creativity and insight has gone into the extension and refinement of class analysis, despite the relentless growth and refinement of the actual phenomenon it could and should be trying to explain. Sure, few topics have been less welcome than this one. But we, its supposed exponents, have hardly done much to damn the torpedoes. We have been downright dunderheaded about our own core topic.

Shame, this.

Spike Lee Earns a Hicksie

Here at TCT, we occasionally bestow our widely un-coveted Golden Hicksie Award on highly deserving individuals and groups.

The GHA commemorates the late comedian Bill Hicks, who once said this:

“Here’s the deal folks: you do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call forever. End of story, OK? You’re another corporate fucking shill, you’re another whore at the capitalist gang-bang. And if you do a commercial, there’s a price on your head, everything you say is suspect, and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink.”

Bill Hicks, 1961-1994

The newest GHA recipient is the one-and-only Spike Lee, who is apparently now making mega-commercials for no less a sociopathic, ecocidal, petty-bourgeois thing than the Cadillac Escalade.

Automotive News reports:

Spike Lee is slated to introduce the redesigned Cadillac Escalade during Oscars week in Hollywood next month with the premiere of his latest short film centered on the fifth generation of the Cadillac flagship.

The Oscar-winning actor, producer and director’s film — called “Anthem” — highlights the innovation of the 2021 Escalade with a filming technique that heightens the sense of motion for viewers, according to a Cadillac statement. The film will be shown at the Escalade reveal Feb. 4.

Due to its special achievements in the area of assisting TPTB with courting carmageddon, Mr. Lee’s GHA is being co-awarded by TCT and our sister site, Death by Car.

Mr. Lee has this astounding bit to say about his shameless, needless greed:

“I’m honored to be part of the next generation of the Escalade, which embodies style, luxury and prestige conveyed without pretension.”

Notwithstanding this claim, here is the main selling point for this monster, according to your friend and mine, the General Motors corporation:

Among the features the sweeping film highlights is the new Escalade’s industry-first curved OLED screen technology, which offers bold imagery, perfect blacks and the largest color range of any automotive display in production today.

For those keeping track, that’s a brag about a new-and-improved TV in the car. You know, “innovation.”

Lee, of course, has long sold his skills and reputation to corporate marketers. This newest project, though, is truly Hicksie-worthy.

He’s gotta have it.

Production is the Issue

Like the book from which it springs, this blog is called “The Consumer Trap.” By this phrase, I mean several things at once. Corporate capitalism is, I contend, a giant historic trap. That is the deepest claim.

But I also mean to protest against the foolish Frankfurt School suggestion that, under our epoch’s over-productive economy, the main strategic locus of politics and society somehow shifted from the boardroom to the bedroom — that we are somehow in an era in which “consumption” (meaning the ways we acquire and use commercial products) is the great question of our age.

This is a rather dull reaction to actual institutions and affairs. Our problem is no less one of macro-choice and investment (aka production) than it ever was. A sea of stuff, non-stop corporate entertainment, and increasingly commercialized off-the-job habits are all trends that emanate from elite dictation, not popular preference. But that is news to Herb Marcuse, who argued the opposite (without ever actually looking).

All of which brings me to this photograph:

That is the back of last night’s pizza box. It is one example of what’s wrong with talking about “consumption.” The manufacturer of this box is, no doubt, one or another major timber-and-paper conglomerate. That entity is certainly all too aware that greasy food containers DO NOT recycle. Yet, as we see here, that knowledge doesn’t lead to retraction of this dishonest little message. Why miss a chance to suppress and combat your customers’ actual concerns?

Corporate product producers are always biased in favor of lying and tricking and cheating to achieve their aims. Until we get back to studying how and why this happens, we will continue to chase our own tails in circles.