On what passes for the political left, analysis of corporate capitalism’s radical commercialization of off-the-job life has been atrocious. Among the disservices performed by allegedly radical thinkers has been their thoughtless habit of adopting the business elite’s “consumer” vocabulary as a legitimate conceptual framework. From the unjustly famous to the realm of everyday flippancy, examples of this disastrous, careless parrot-job abound.
If you wonder how much violence gets done to reality by not only swallowing the notion that “consumer” is a fair-minded label for product-users, but by the accompanying habit of treating the steeply stratified and deeply divided world of actual off-the-job humans as a pool of undifferentiated “consumers,” take a look at this recent report by Barbara Ehrenreich and Dedrick Muhammad.
It includes some excellent quick glimpses of the truth behind the scenes of this shameful mega-enterprise/IQ test. Thinking they’re talking to CNBC and hence other corporate overclassers, some corporate planners briefly tip their hand about their real motives.
For instance, this admission from Tom Murphy, VP of Media and Sponsorships at the Sprint telecom corporation:
This [NASCAR] is a superior marketing asset and we judge it in the ways any marketer would, no differently than when we buy TV advertising and airtime…newspaper or magazine advertisements. This is a giant, giant ad machine.
But, while watching, I also noticed that NASCAR’s major players go out of their way to call car racing “motorsports.”
This, my friends, is 85-year-old Gloria Vanderbilt! Gloria is, of course, not just mommy to the journalistic cipher Anderson Cooper, but also the never-laboring heiress-socialite great granddaughter of railroad robber baron Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the fine figures who helped ensure that rail transport in the USA would be privately owned and widely despised, rather than publicly provided and widely beloved.
I hereby nominate Gloria as the official 21st-century cover-girl for our corporate overclass. She’s just absolutely perfect! Way decrepit and long past any pretense to vigor, she epitomizes the de rigueur look of our times: The dyed, implanted fake hair. The scramble for each and every possible plastic-surgical denial of reality. The vapid self-satisfaction and outdated posings in the face of blatant irrelevance and onrushing death.
Well, bravo, hmm, hmm! How true-to-life can one possibly be, hmm, hmm?
One catches the general principle at work (and I use that word “work” ironically) here. It’s a slight adaptation of old Corny’s classic admission about class power and the (non-)rule of law: Reality? What care I about reality? Hain’t I got the money?
While stuck watching the profoundly moronic and outdated Belmont Stakes in my apartment’s exercise room last weekend, I encountered E-Trade’s notorious “black baby” commercials. I almost fell off my treadmill.
Watch this appalling shit here and here.
As the white baby controls all aspects of the situation and voices all the reasoned thoughts, the black baby sings, trips out, echoes white logic, and makes a sexual come-on. Can you imagine these ads getting made and aired if the skin colors were reversed? No chance in hell.
I guarantee you that all of this was carefully planned by E-Trade’s marketing team. As I documented in my book, The Consumer Trap, big business marketers are extremely sensitive to racial stereotypes, and are driven by the logic of their enterprise to exploit and perpetuate, not challenge, them.
The other important aspect of this blatant neo-racism is that it is targeted at elite audiences, who absolutely eat it up, not least because they think it’s a great thing for they themselves to be willing even to look at and possibly, maybe interact with a black person (both acts they have only recently begun to contemplate).
Among the multiple disasters being perpetuated by Obama is the lack of anything but the status quo ante on education. Like basically everything else, schools are clearly in for more of the same under the reign of the 2008 Marketer of the Year.
But let’s stop to ask about the real reasons our schools are “failing,” shall we?
The consensus answer among our overseers is that educational failure is internal, not external to schools themselves.
I would also refer you to the recent statement of Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Killiam Klinton, and spokesperson for the far left end of the “serious” politicians. Here’s Mr. Reich’s explanation of the inherent limits of education in this, history’s richest and most powerful empire:
So, why can’t we all go to real college? Because, as Reich knows but cannot say (for fear of losing his cushy, undeserved elite academic gigs and his insider connections), that would constitute a mortal threat to our overclass, which relies on “matching” our brains and expectations to the structure of employment, entertainment, and politics produced by corporate capitalism’s market-totalitarian logic. Too much knowledge and self-confidence is simply intolerable to that order. It literally couldn’t be handled.
The truth, of course, is that this is nothing like an equal opportunity society, despite the frequent incantations to the contrary. Equality of opportunity requires equality of condition, from zero up to the starting line for grown-up life (which brain biology now shows to be something like age 25). We have nothing of the sort, and Obama is making excuses, not answers, for that.
Schools are merely one symptom, not a cause, of our terrible disease. To the extent they could help cure the disease, they are intentionally barred from doing so.
As with Reagan, the main question is whether Obama believes his own b.s., and is therefore profoundly stupid, or is in way deep on the self-packaging prevarications. With Obama, I tend to think the latter, but it remains the core issue of his Presidency, which has otherwise been a complete and utter disaster for the poorest 90 percent of the nation, not to mention the rest of the world.
And you might also recall that it was Reagan’s useful idiocy that greased the rails for the tidal wave of heightened class-struggle-from-above under which we’ve been living ever since the Gipper’s rise from the gubernatorial ooze. One effect of that increased level of capitalism has been ordinary people using credit cards to replace the wages and benefits they’ve lost, as our shareholding bail-out takers have gutted the society while building themselves wine cellars and third homes.