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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 07:58 AM
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Consumer-Driven Culture Is Killing Our Democracy
Consumer-Driven Culture Is Killing Our Democracy

By Terrence McNally, AlterNet. Posted November 28, 2007.

Americans are split between wanting low prices and opposing the corporate behaviors that make them possible.

Here's a quick quiz. Do you love bargains? Do you enjoy the power and convenience of shopping online for the best deals on electronics or travel or anything else? Do you favor cutthroat corporate competition that devours small, local businesses? Do you applaud the sweatshop labor it takes to produce your sweatpants for less?

Feeling schizophrenic, yet?

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich believes we are all suffering from this split agenda -- as consumers we want low prices, while as citizens we may oppose corporate behaviors that make them possible. And he believes -- at least on a national scale -- our citizen selves are losing.

Shoppers are elbowing citizens out of the public arena. The last three decades have seen the emergence of a supercharged capitalism fueled by open markets and cutthroat competitiveness. According to Reich, "supercapitalism" is overwhelming government with lobbyists and money, while citizens are dazzled by the promise of previously unimaginable riches and consumer choices.

In his new book, Supercapitalism, Reich tackles the big question: Can democracy survive in this environment?

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bullimiami Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:02 AM
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1. lassiz faire capitalism is a cancer
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tom_paine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:08 AM
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2. It is quite clear by now that democracy cannot survive in this environment
However, we let the people, who psychoengineered America from what we were to the mindset of the 1930s Germans, off the hook when we lay sole blame for our destroyed democracy, lying in ruins at our feet, on our "culture".

Never forget, democracy could not have been destroyed without the efforts of millions of Loyal Bushies and tens of billions of dollars spent over these last two decades.
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Cassandra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 09:19 AM
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3. I'm reminded of this piece on amateurism vs. professionalism...
in the NYTimes a while ago

"Were addicted to convenience today. Cellphone cameras are handy, but theyre also the equivalent of fast-food meals. Their ubiquity has multiplied our distance from drawing as a measure of self-worth and a practical tool. Before box cameras became universal a century or so ago, people drew for pleasure but also because it was the best way to preserve a cherished sight, a memory, just as people played an instrument or sang if they wanted to hear music at home because there were no record players or radios. Amateurism was a virtue, and the time and effort entailed in learning to draw, as with playing the piano, enhanced its desirability.
Something happened between then and now, and it wasnt just the invention of gadgets that eliminated the need to draw.

There was also a philosophical change, away from drawing as a practical endeavor and toward art appreciation. From dexterity and discipline to feelings and self-esteem: the shift in values is implied by some of the later books in the show. Consciously or not, they parallel changes in modern art, which threw out the rule books of draftsmanship and proposed a new, free-thinking attitude.

As for expending effort to become skilled at drawing, the post-Cooke postwar generation introduced Paint by Numbers, and the situation has gone downhill from there.
So it is with classical music, painting and drawing, professional renditions of which are now so widely available that most people probably cant or dont imagine theres any point in bothering to do these things themselves. Communities of amateurs still thrive, but they are self-selecting groups. A vast majority of society seems to presume that culture is something specialists produce."

Our culture has become something we consume instead of produce. In the 1890's, when Shakespearean theater companies toured the West, the townspeople and cowboys would call out the dialogue along with the actors; they knew the plays that well (and had probably taken part in amateur theatricals, as well). Hardly seems very likely now.
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The2ndWheel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 09:35 AM
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4. "Our culture has become something we consume instead of produce."
I like that. That's a good sentence.

Mass society and specialization do that though. It's not our job to govern ourselves, it's our job to be represented by someone that, at this point, might "represent" either several hundred thousand or millions of people. It's not our job to get food, it's our job to buy the food that is controlled by governments and corporations. The list goes on and on.
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Cassandra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. We can't know how to do everything but...
we each should know how to produce several things. I can crochet, do needlepoint, sew a little, carve a little, do calligraphy, cook, make jewelry, and I'm working on 3D art pieces (can't say that I know what I'm doing with these but the process is a lot of fun).
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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 10:23 AM
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6. Stop Shopping!
Fuck christmas. I haven't gone along with this nonsense since I was a kid. People hate me for it and that's good because it keeps those idiots away from me. Who really wants to spend all that money on plastic crap that will be broken by the end of January, or who wants to get another fruit cake, or who wants the huge fucking credit card bills which drive people into a sort of financial depression, or who really likes that fat pedophile santa, or who likes to have to return those polka dot underware because they are to small for your fat ass after you have been eating yourself to death... Christmas is for the fools who think the bible actually promotes this celebration yearly...hey ...blow the dust off of your bible and read it a few times. I guess its good for the economy though since America/China depends on fools following the piper to WalMart. Good luck with your screaming kids who you only give a gift when it's expected...O yea that really shows them that you love them. Hey ...get a clue you morons. Buy them a gift and give it to them unexpected because you love them and see how they react sometime. Do yourself, your family and your bank account a favor...STOP SHOPPING!

Meet Reverend Billy, the Man Who Wants America to Stop Spending
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