1.2 Consumerism and Control

Profit maximization had to be kept on course. Such a perspective generates a vicious circle of incessant production of new and more products and of their consumption. As stated above the actual products are in themselves unimportant; bombs or books it matters little. All is for consumption. This is also why there comes a stage when the skeleton of democracy becomes more appropriate: consumerism is not compatible with the needs of other regimes. It also entails a uniform globalization, both to seek new consumers and to avail of material resources. Globalization goes hand in hand with the inevitable monopolisation caused by the transfer of wealth to an increasingly smaller coterie. Hence in particular the march towards globalization had to be hastened. Consumerism equally entails the prevention of any thinking detrimental to the interest of profit-maximization. Any alternative model is by definition limiting and thus in effect put an end to it. To maintain a course detrimental to humanity by making populations consume for the mere sake of it and to defraud them, controlling and manipulation had to be made more effective.

What Professor Kakabatse stated about the Bildeberg group can be extended to all the others representing transnational interests unaccountable to world populations, though impacting in every aspect of their lives: all this has been “much smarter than conspiracy”; it amounts to “moulding the way people think”.[1] This was confirmed recently by an article in Time magazine regarding the 2020 American elections, but it applies more widely: “a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”[2]

By the late 40s, “social control”[3] had become an academic field of study, and social engineering had come to be “used to embody the principle that government or other institutions could manipulate citizens to act in a desired manner or adhere to a particular political belief.”[4] Achieving ends, including ends at a societal level, whatever they may be, “by small adjustments and re-adjustments which can be continually improved upon” of institutions such as “education systems” or legislation, as advised by Popper, is precisely what has taken place over the decades, and is currently ongoing to bring about the necessary changes to ensure the continuance of profit-maximization.[5] Some architects of social engineering may be motivated by the welfare of society, but they espoused the mechanistic paradigm and failed to veritably question the profit-maximization perspective within which welfare cannot have any place. Whatever the motivations, the use of underhand methods is usually claimed to be for the benefit of humankind. According to the Times article, it is to “ensure that democracy … endures.” Brushed aside is the basic issue: the very notion of welfare, of collective good, is subjective. In other words, welfare according to whom? Even the best intentions, when imposed on individuals with widely different expectations, with widely different characters, become perceived as oppressive. When the ulterior motive is far from altruistic, any imposition is nothing short of tyrannical.

Consumerism itself had to be engineered. In this television and cinema played a fundamental role. In particular by providing amusements and entertainments as the goal of life, they ensured the necessary depoliticization, in other words, the alienation of man from society and fellow human beings, all interactions being transformed into something to be consumed, within a society whose health was now measured in terms of quantitative criteria such as the GNP (gross national product) and GDP (gross domestic product) that only take into account contribution to capital, namely only “monetary transactions”, while discarding “anything that does not involve the direct exchange of money”. The “breakdown of the social structure and the natural habitat” is a gain since the costs generated – social, legal, police, protection, repair, medical, etc. – gives rise to such transactions; in particular, “crime adds billions to the GNP”.[6]

Hence, man was now no longer an end in himself, but a means for production and consumption, a means to keep profit-maximization going. All was shaped according to this mode. Culture became a matter of production and consumption. Education became tantamount to the production of spare parts made to fit required formats, and teachers, like their factory counterparts, were now increasingly rewarded for their turnover. There was little to no space for the development of man’s creativity disconnected from profit.

In other words, not only workers, but all were slowly reduced to a machine, or not even a machine, a cog within the machine that society was being transformed into: a faceless technocracy representing a faceless State, conducted by anonymous administrators, where each carries out orders within a restricted sphere, without any idea or desire to know his place within the whole, nor the latter’s aim, within a society that is now a mere machine, whose members have internalized their devaluation to dead matter.

The result has been alienation not only from fellow humans, but also from oneself, in other words, isolation and loss of identity. This in turn has led to conformism – a sine qua non for mass products and globalization. Imitating others is the only way to survive all loss of self worth – others equally trying to hide the meaninglessness that life had become, abetted by intellectuals, who to hide their own void, equated the non-acceptance of the dogma of materialism with ignorance and stupidity. Conformism furthers frenzied consumerism, and in particular the demand for “fun and excitement” – not to be confused with “joy and love of life”.[7] A vicious spiral has thereby been created. At each stage man has been that much more dehumanized, not just Western man, but also Eastern man, the latter being submerged both in the dogmas his own philosophies have been distorted into and those imported from the globalization centres of the West, which he has been unable to resist.

The greater the alienation from life, paradoxically the greater the terror of death, since a confusion between life and death erodes our survival instinct by making it difficult to distinguish between danger and safety, thereby accelerating the advent of death. At the very least it is not conducive to survival. And indeed, although we rapidly acquired the capacity to destroy all human life shortly after WW2, in all this time there never has been a sufficiently strong protest against nuclear war, and its become weaker with the increase of its likelihood.

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13682082
  2. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/
  3. Hauser, P. M. “Social Science and Social Engineering”. Philosophy of Science , Jul., 1949, Vol. 16, No. 3 pp. 209-218
  4. Schmookler, S. L. and C. M. Kahler. “Social Engineering: Is the manipulation of humans a computer fraud?”. The Fidelity Law Journal. Vol. 22, Nov. 2016.
  5. Popper, K. R. The Poverty of Historicism. 1957. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  6. Lietaer, B. A. and J. Dunne. 2013. Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
  7. Fromm, E. 1964. The Heart of Man: His Genius for Good and Evil. New York: Harper Collins. p. 57