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When did we become consumers instead of citizens?

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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:16 PM
Original message
When did we become consumers instead of citizens?
Around the time corporations got citizen status, I would guess.

What a terrible word -- consumer. Makes you think of a voracious gluttonus eating shark machinery devouring whatever is available. One large mouth moving along, like a Pac Man. Eat up the bullshit, pig out on instant gratifications and get fat headed and lazy while the corp/gov/media machinery makes us believe this is what freedom and democracy is - all about credit cards and designer labels and diet fads and whose zooming who in hollywood.

Yes, 'they' surely hated us for our freedom when we were once citizens.

bah. I'm in such a lousy mood.
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Catt03 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Glad you pointed that out
words matter.

I think I'll write the NYT and remind them.

Also being on the other side with the Bush administration and always being referred to as "them" or "those people".
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. "Those people"
was the way Robert E. Lee referred to his Union opponants during the Civil War. I think to some repukes this is a war, and they want to destroy the Dems.
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Arianrhod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-24-04 12:43 AM
Response to Reply #2
24. I don't think they've been shy about their intentions.
The Republicans not only have wanted to destroy the Democratic Party, they've been actively doing so for 30 years. They were humiliated by Vietnam and Nixon--two other events about which the Liberals were correct and the Conservatives were wrong--and have considered us their "enemy" ever since. The current Republican Party is the child of the Fundamentalists. One of the major tenets of Fundamentalism is that its followers must have an enemy to fight. The Republicans have therefore been inventing enemies ever since--exactly like the Muslim Fundamentalists have. Both groups hate freedom (except for themselves).

The Republicans want a one-party tyranny in which anyone who does not strictly adhere to their mistaken Puritan notions of "normalcy" will be systematically and legally removed from society. That's why they are furiously passing legislation designed to remove people's rights--the Marriage Protection Act, the Religion Protection Act, the PATRIOT Act--and to protect the rights of corporations. That's why they're packing the courts with reactionaries. Soon we will have no recourse but to obey the unfair laws the rich are benefiting from, because no court would rule in our favor. Dissent will not be tolerated; compassion will be limited to Christian church charities; and the social infrastructure will be replaced with a Mayflower Compact under which everyone will vow their loyalty to the State, to Jesus and to material things.
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. yeah, words do matter.
I recall, back in the day, when 'collateral damage' meant something other than bleeding bodies.
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Old and In the Way Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
3. Roughly about the time TV showed up on the scene, I think.
TV was/is an incredible advertising medium and 30 years of ads have helped to morph us into consumers 1st ; citizen's 2nd. Actually, I think cable news pitches news as a political product, you just aren't supposed to ask who the advertiser is.
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:28 PM
Response to Original message
5. Agreed.
Thank you! I've hated that word, "consumer," since its first use.

Words have specific meaning and the constant reference to citizens as "consumers" says very clearly what the corporatists truly think of us.

Let's fight back! Let's tell the world what we think of being called "consumers." Let's take back our proper title and role as pro-active citizens the way we are taking back our pride in being liberals.

I'm a liberal and a participating citizen, and proud of it!

:bounce:
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:37 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. it's been a while since I recall that word introduced to our lives...
but I recoiled at it even tho at that time I was as blindered as anyone. a gutspeak thing.
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. Same here!
When I was in nursing school back in the early '70s, I remember rebelling strongly -- in your "gutspeak" sort of way -- when we were told that we should no longer refer to patients as "patients," but as "clients." I got in trouble more than once for refusing to comply.

I don't remember becoming conscious of the word "consumer" until quite some time later -- but for me, that was the beginning of primal-level resentment against being considered just a cog in the wheel of the profit-making machinery.
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:29 PM
Response to Original message
6. 1776? 1782? 75% of the constitution is about not letting the gov't
impair interstate commerce, or give one state's citizens more opportunity in the marketplace than another. The Revolution was all about taxation of commercial activity by the gov't without representation in that government.

Most of what MLK and Gandhi talked about was this same thing -- economic justice.
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. our governments take their marching orders not from us....
would like to see the real truth on the ballots.
vote for lobbyist/corp here.
eliminate the fantasy middle man we think we have.
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:49 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. It should take marching orders based on economic interests...
...of the masses, not the oligopolistic minority.
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 07:57 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. commie!!!
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. defamations:
citizen (P)Pronunciation Key(st-zn)
n.

1. A person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation.
2. A resident of a city or town, especially one entitled to vote and enjoy other privileges there.
3. A civilian.
4. A native, inhabitant, or denizen of a particular place: We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

consumer (P)Pronunciation Key(kn-smr)
n.

1. One that consumes, especially one that acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.
2. A heterotrophic organism that ingests other organisms or organic matter in a food chain.=====

like erm, Nicaragua, Laos, Cambodia, et als to eyebrows.
let's not forget we don't Vote for this mayhem, the General Electrics that own what we think is News does.... same shit, but the pile is getting higher.

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dee33 Donating Member (24 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
11. Since people are 2 paychecks away from homeless
I'm trying to consume less and switch back to Citizen again :)

Dee
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. heh, me 2, I only consume beer and bile lately.
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Guaranteed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:13 PM
Response to Original message
14. Sounds like you just saw
"The Corporation." :)

Well, maybe ya did, maybe ya didn't. Great flick, though. If you haven't seen it, you should.
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. Soon!
We're seeing The Corporation on Sunday!!

:bounce:
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:32 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. the Corporation - Actually I walked out on it....
I'll give it another good college try on vid or DVD but the doomness was just too heavy, for the moment, for me - nothing much I didn't already know.... I don't know what I was expecting... maybe I did what was right for me... to be so revulsed I had to go.... I'm working on this.
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Imperialism Inc. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:25 PM
Response to Original message
17. And just think of all the money spent on mindless advertising
to convince "consumers" to buy some piece of crap. Or to prefer brand A dish soap over brand B. Or to change meaningless packaging. Tremendous waste of money. I've heard in the range of 1 trillion dollars now. Makes you wonder about the whole efficiency myth. Of course it is efficiency at making a profit so I guess it is accurate about that but man ... what a waste in the sense of the society as a whole.
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 08:38 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. How to Get A Head in Advertising....
you must see this movie...

but yeah, unnessary packaging and advertising feeds the whores that feed on the rest of us.

no name brand wherever I can find it....
same whores producing those, slightly different pile.

bah. it's so bloody difficult when we're so osmosed into the cogs and machinery.
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 11:31 PM
Response to Original message
20. "Taxpayer" is just as bad
http://www.counterpunch.org/smith05052003.html

'Customer' and 'consumer' were not the only words being used to change the nature of citizenship. David Kemmis, the mayor of Missoula, MT, pointed out that the word 'taxpayer' now "regularly holds the place which in a true democracy would be occupied by 'citizen.' Taxpayers bear a dual relationship to government, neither half of which has anything at all to do with democracy. Taxpayers pay tribute to the government and they receive services from it. So does every subject of a totalitarian regime. What taxpayers do not do, and what people who call themselves taxpayers have long since stopped even imagining themselves doing, is governing."

Then there was growing use of the term "stakeholder" that covertly diminished the citizens' role to that of a minor participant. Ironically, 'stakeholder' literally means a person who holds the money while two other people bet. Whoever wins, the stakeholder gets nothing.

Another phrase that started cropping up was 'civil society,' a patronizing description of people who, in a democracy, are meant to be running the place. The term has come to used in elite circles with roughly the same condescension of a bishop talking about a church altar guild.
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TrustingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-23-04 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. pawns, the lot of us...
trusting dogs.
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puerco-bellies Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-24-04 12:21 AM
Response to Original message
22. SANTA CLARA COUNTY v. SOUTHERN PAC. R. CO., 1886
When the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are equal in the eyes of the Constitution as individuals we became commodities, and cosumers.

http://www.ratical.org/corporations/SCvSPR1886.html
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givemebackmycountry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-24-04 12:40 AM
Response to Original message
23. We Are
Let's face it.
We are pimp nation.
We exist to buy and sell and produce and consume.
It's what we are.

And it's so sad.
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ljm2002 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-24-04 12:43 AM
Response to Original message
25. An important point, I think
I have asked the same question before -- what, no more body politic? We're not citizens, we're consumers?

The fact is, the rhetoric has changed over the last 30 years or so. I started noticing gradually that the rhetoric and editorials and political discussion became less about ideals and more about realpolitik. That the Cold War morphed from a battle of "democracy vs. totalitarianism" to one of "capitalism vs. communism". That capitalism became our highest ideal.

Now in reality this has been built in for a much longer time than the last 30 years. But I think the powers that be realized that a little idealism is a dangerous thing -- that if they could get us to think of ourselves as "consumers", then we'd be less likely to get restive.

And for the most part it's worked. Remember how we all felt after 9/11 -- at least in my case, it was "what can I do to help?" And Bush's answer to that was, "just go about your business and buy stuff". Paraphrased, but still pretty accurate.

It's pathetic really. Those of us on the left who care enough to be interested, and who want to affect things, are branded as unpatriotic commies. Those on the right who want to bring us into an imperialistic, plutocratic theocracy are lauded as patriots. And those who don't care are "good Americans".

Yes, I do believe your point is an important one.
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Sugarbleus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-24-04 12:50 AM
Response to Original message
26. When Television and radio were invented....
I remember not having a television(the golden age of radio) and having to listen to the table top radio. They had actual radio "shows" one would listen to like one watches programs on TV. That was the golden avenue that opened up the whole mass advertising thing we see today.

'Oh, ya had to have this product or that one' you just couldn't do without this or that............. Everything from Carter's little liver Pills to Phillip Morris Cigarettes. Today it's Humvees and Plasma Screen TVS...... et al
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