Big Brother was an Amateur

In his fantastic new book, Reinventing Collapse, Dmitry Orlov observes that the US overclass now enjoys “an arrangement over which Soviet central planners would surely have salivated profusely.”

Consider Quividi, the new marketing service that is placing video cameras inside the proliferating legion of video-screen being deployed to beam corporate advertising into stores, airports, bus stations, restaurants, etc., etc. etc.

Quividi describes itself to its prospective employers thusly:

With Quividi’s solution, however, the days of blind advertising are over: VidiReports and VidiCenter are the ultimate way to measure and to add value to public space media.
By deploying an inexpensive video sensor in the vicinity of the monitored media and by taking advantage of the extra, unused computing power of standard signage players, Quividi’s software provides you with key metrics on your signage installation:

* An estimation of the opportunity to see; (OTS)
* A precise count of actual viewers;
* Various aggregate inidces on viewership such as dwell time, attention time, “face minutes”;
* Precise viewership demographics;
* Precise correlation between viewership and content, via the inclusion of playlists in VidiCenter.

If you doubt the Orwellian nature of the endeavor, look here.

The Greatest Degeneration

Quiz Question:

Economically speaking, how did the United States get itself out of the Great Depression of the 1930s?

Hint #1: This solution also led to the only time in modern corporate-American history when there was full employment, a job for everybody who wanted one…

Hint #2: It also had to do with fighting fascism in a big war…

Answer: massive new government taxes and expenditures.

Nonetheless, here is one of the Neo-Gumby legions who can’t (or won’t, depending on where you place him between the “Dumb” and “Dishonest” poles of the Ronald Reagan Memorial Presidential Capacities Scale™)* correctly answer this utterly basic, sixth-grade-level civics question:

Why do I say this? Check out this howler among howlers.

And, by the way, this multifaceted mega-stinker also serves as a pretty good indicator of exactly how dead the Democratic Party is. The Republican demagogues who make these blatant promotions of childish ignorance about elementary facts know full well that Barack Obama is distinctly NOT proposing large new tax-and-spend programs.  That, of course, doesn’t stop them from baiting him on the topic.

They also know that they won’t get a rebuttal — despite the scale of their error and idiocy — from Obama and the rest of the pack of social-climbing creeps who market themselves as “the opposition.”  As always, the Dembots are too busy collecting PAC money, planning new wars, and explaining all the things the poor, helpless government “can’t” do here at home.

Who needs a Memory Hole when you have corporate capitalism? Market totalitarianism is an auto-shredder.

___________

*My own scale placements: (0 = total moronitude; 100 = total dishonesty/salesmanship)

Reagan: 5

Bush II: 8 (would be a 4, but for his ability to pass himself off as a Christian — admittedly not very hard, but still…)

Clinton: 89

Bush I: 75

McCain: 40

Carter: 39

Nixon: 95

Empire of the Uninformed: Market Totalitarianism’s Real Basis

Under the dual assault of big business marketing and the pro-business psy-ops that have long passed for “politics” here, ordinary Americans are the most deeply, intensively propagandized people in human history.

The extremely long list of basic things we don’t know is mostly inscribed by the ever-expanding dominance of marketing-friendly televisual media and televisual mental habits over print media and print literacy skills.

But we also have our own very extensive “Black Book of Corporate Capitalism.” Unless we somehow overthrow our corporate overclass — which, despite the times, remains the richest and most powerful in human history — we will never get to see the full version of that book.

Nonetheless, if you keep your eyes peeled, every so often a page slips out.

One just has. For those disgusted by the huge gulf between reality and the continuing ability of the system’s overseers and mouthpieces to paint the United States as some exceptional angel of goodness, here’s the story:

AP IMPACT: At least 100,000 said executed by US’s Korean ally in 1950 summer of terror

CHARLES J. HANLEY and JAE-SOON CHANG

AP News May 18, 2008 12:17 EST

Grave by mass grave, South Korea is unearthing the skeletons and buried truths of a cold-blooded slaughter from early in the Korean War, when this nation’s U.S.-backed regime killed untold thousands of leftists and hapless peasants in a summer of terror in 1950.

With U.S. military officers sometimes present, and as North Korean invaders pushed down the peninsula, the southern army and police emptied South Korean prisons, lined up detainees and shot them in the head, dumping the bodies into hastily dug trenches. Others were thrown into abandoned mines or into the sea. Women and children were among those killed. Many victims never faced charges or trial.

The mass executions — intended to keep possible southern leftists from reinforcing the northerners — were carried out over mere weeks and were largely hidden from history for a half-century. They were “the most tragic and brutal chapter of the Korean War,” said historian Kim Dong-choon, a member of a 2-year-old government commission investigating the killings.

Hundreds of sets of remains have been uncovered so far, but researchers say they are only a tiny fraction of the deaths. The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million.

That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is “very conservative,” said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press.

Through the postwar decades of South Korean right-wing dictatorships, victims’ fearful families kept silent about that blood-soaked summer. American military reports of the South Korean slaughter were stamped “secret” and filed away in Washington. Communist accounts were dismissed as lies.

Only since the 1990s, and South Korea’s democratization, has the truth begun to seep out.

In 2002, a typhoon’s fury uncovered one mass grave. Another was found by a television news team that broke into a sealed mine. Further corroboration comes from a trickle of declassified U.S. military documents, including U.S. Army photographs of a mass killing outside this central South Korean city.

Now Kim’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has added government authority to the work of scattered researchers, family members and journalists trying to peel away the long-running cover-up. The commissioners have the help of a handful of remorseful old men.

“Even now, I feel guilty that I pulled the trigger,” said Lee Joon-young, 83, one of the executioners in a secluded valley near Daejeon in early July 1950.

Economic Blacklisting: Why it’s 570 Channels and Still Nothin’ On

Springsteen’s song in 1992 was “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).”

Now, it’s 570, of course.

Why?

Why the plethora of themed channels, but the continuing wall-to-wall reliance on pablum, snoozefests, and re-runs? Why is “Spongebob Squarepants” smarter, better-written, wiser, and more relevant-to-real-life than every single new program for grown-ups?

Independent film-maker Lloyd Kaufman explains:

I was recently elected to be chairman of the Independent Film And Television Alliance, and I ran on the platform of lobbying in Washington to educate the lawmakers and FCC that independent art is under assault in this country—and under a pepper, too, but that’s beside the point. Comcast won’t talk to Troma. We’ve been in business for 30 years and have 800 movies, and they won’t talk to us. If we give one of our movies to some middleman at Time Warner or whatever, then they’ll talk to them, so there’s another layer of revenue that we lose.

The limited access to the marketplace is economic blacklisting. If you’re an independent, you don’t get on TV. And in the rare instances that you do get on, you get a fraction of what that very same movie would get if it came in through Fox or Viacom.

Like every other major dimension of market totalitarianism, this one remains unacknowledged in both the mainstream media and the public utterances of the power elite.

Totalitarianism & Communis…

…pace. As in Communispace, the marketing research firm with the Fortune 500 client list and this self-description:

Communispace is one of the first companies to create online communities that enable organizations to get deeply involved with customers– to gain insights into their lives, interests, decisions, and needs in ways not possible before. We know how to invite the right people, use the right mix of technologies and methodologies, and build the type of customer relationships that deliver powerful business insights, ideas and intelligence.

As I wrote in my book, The Consumer Trap, big business marketers have long since enjoyed the ability to spy on their “targets” to an extent and a degree of refinement that would make Joseph Stalin blush.

Consider what Communispace, which is merely one example of the growing galaxy of real-time marketing research strategies that are getting corporate capitalists ever closer to their goal of literally “walking in the shoes of our consumersto get inside [their] hearts and minds,” as Communispace CEO Diane Hessan puts it.

Communispace started out in 1999 trying to create websites where company employees could share ideas. But at a meeting with Hallmark, an executive asked whether the collaboration could be extended to customers. The Hallmark Idea Exchange was launched in November 2000, and since then, Communispace has created close to 225 online communities.

The cost is roughly $200,000 a year, including recruitment of members, website development, facilitators, and regular reports. In an age of Do Not Call lists and TiVo time-shifting, what’s amazing about the online communities is the willingness of people to participate, committing to at least 30 minutes a week. The only financial incentive they receive is a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate once every six weeks.

Part of what draws people in is what Julie Wittes Schlack , Communispace’s vice president of innovation and design, calls the “anonymous intimacy” of the Web. Many community members spend much more than a half-hour a week on the websites. When they’re not responding to company postings, they’re trading gossip, posting pictures, or networking. Schlack says it’s a chance for people with similar interests to talk about personal or business issues with one another, everything from investing philosophies to losing weight.

One client of Communispace’s spying has been Procter & Gamble, which has used the service to invent and promulgate its magnificently stupid and wasteful product, Axe body spray:

On their own, the young men in Unilever’s AXE deodorant community arranged Wednesday night online gatherings to talk about all sorts of things. At one such session, said Alison Zelen , director of consumer and market insights at Unilever, members began posting pictures of their girlfriends and asking other members to rank them on a scale of one to 10.

Zelen said the spontaneous member postings gave her Unilever team valuable insights into the young male mind. She said those insights help in the development of Axe products and advertising, which is heavily focused on how Axe products can help attract women.

Other features on the Axe community website include the Female Fight Club, where members vote for their favorite female celebrity in head-to-head competitions. Winners advance through brackets much like the World Cup.

There is also a lingo-lexicon area where members define the slang they use. Many of the postings on the Axe website might be considered offensive anywhere else.

“I liken it to being in a locker room with the guys,” said the 35-year-old Zelen. “That’s something I would never be able to do.”

You might wonder: Inside corporate marketing’s professional circles, what’s the main debate over this shockingly totalitarian exploitation of ignorant “targets” by the agents of the overclass? Like all good foot soldiers, the issue there is confined to technical refinement, not morality:

I want to state at the outset that I think that Communispace offers companies a very valuable service. I also think that there are many, many ways to work with an study onlne consumer communities. Many ways to conceptualize them, gain insights from them, research them, and incroporate them into corporate strategy and tactics. But I’d like to take this a step further. Asking the question above, about whether an intentionally constructed online community made of monetarily motivated individuals can provide the same insights and benefits as a community that has evolved of its own accord is a legitimate question with practical and research implications. Or, maybe it’s interesting to ask about what kinds of community seeding there are as options, and what their implications are.

Kaufen macht frei!

Big Brother’s Shopping Cart

For those interested in the institutional workings of market totalitarianism, I very strongly recommend watching this 6 minute, 27 second video on the coming of the Media Cart.

This warm, comfortable little market-totalitarian insider’s video really speaks for itself, if you happen to understand the nature and logic of big business marketing. The only aspect you might miss without my comment is the fleeting but important mention of this extra “added value” to the capitalist: still-further reduction of in-store “labor costs” — i.e., jobs in the already scandalously understaffed retail sector.

This Media Cart monstrosity, you see, is not not just another new emplacement of an Orwellian telescreen for spying on those tellingly called “consumers,” but also a new way to further automate the work of the store clerk. Now, capitalists can run their mega-marts with 6 instead of 10 near-minimum-wagers.