|⇦|| Episode #670 - Thinking Clearly About The Vast Machine
(And Resisting The Hopelessness It Perpetuates)
|⌚ Sat 21 September 2013 ☻Chris Hedges (reading), Sut Jhally, Robert Jensen, Nafeez Ahmed|
Download Hour1 Download Hour2This week we look at one aspect of the machine referred to by Graeber in episode 624 - the propaganda that is churned out and which prevents people from clearly facing their dilemma. We begin with a 2009 speech by Sut Jhally on advertising, consumerism and what this has done to the US population. After contributions from Chris Hedges and Robert Jensen, we finish with an optimistic vision by Nafeez Ahmed.
|Advertising is the most powerful and sustained system of propaganda in human history and its cumulative cultural and political effects, unless very quickly checked will be responsible for destroying the world as we know it... Our survival as a species is dependent upon minimizing the threat from advertising and the commercial culture that has spawned it.|
— Sut Jhally, 2009
Jhally echoes Hedges' claim that capitalism is a revolutionary force, although his emphasis is different - he emphasizes the immense amount of material goods that capitalism creates, and the consequent systemic need, as identified by Marx, to monetize them by retailing them to consumers. Citing Marx' description of 'commodity fetishism', that is, the encouraging of consumers to have relationships with objects as if they were people, Jhally highlights the story of increased provision of stuff (as measured by GDP) as equaling an improved life for people as a major philosophical justification of capitalism. While palpably false, he suggests that this story continues as a force amongst both relatively capitalism naive people in 'developing countries' and in the USA itself, amongst a population dumbed down by generations of advertising. Most US citizens compare themselves not to their peers, but to the gallery of illusions pedaled by the marketing industry. He cites Juliet Schor on the pressures towards overwork and debt, noting for example that 60% of US citizens have less than one month's salary of savings. Whilst his analysis is more 'inside the system' than our other speakers this week, Jhally identifies the size of the threat to clear thinking posed by a century of advertising.
Next we hear Robert Jensen, author of Arguing For Our Lives on the development of critical thinking. He suggests that a main barrier to clear thinking is the enormous amount of money spent on propaganda precisely to prevent such thought, whether about products, governments or wider society. Jensen urges us to reject hierarchy, but welcome our bonds to those around us, arguing that most Americans are starved of the relationships and social ties necessary for them to make sense of their lives.We conclude with "From endless growth to a new form of democracy", a vision of a positive future by another speaker familiar to regular listeners, Nafeez Ahmed.
Music: Death before Employment by Sicknote
Thanks to Kenneth Dowst of New World Notes for the Obey adaptation and to Active Ingredients for the Sut Jhally speech.
Episode 673 tackles similar topics to this episode.
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