- Why’s the business world so aggressively woke-progressive?
- Why is corporate media polarized into lowest common denominator identity politics?
- Why is corporate media either 100% super-woke or 100% anti-woke but never sincere or nuanced?
- Why all the #metoo virtue signalling? Why’s Burger King wasting time on #woke statements?
- Why does Pepsi publish an opinion on Trans Rights? Why all the renaming buildings?
- Why is big business letting itself be weaponized by #woke mob justice (i.e. gossip) to end careers and professional lives, without due process or respect for the individual’s years of devotion?
- Why does Big Tech algorithm our feeds into echo chambers?
- Why does everything in the mainstream media have to be on-message? CNN is always Clinton-neoliberal, Fox is all GOP-neocon; and never the twain shall meet (or mix)?
- Why is nuance bad? What’s wrong with complexity? Why are our institutions enforcing public submission to orthodoxy, often over honest debate and real-world truth?
- Creativity and autonomy is fuelled by cross-pollinating diversity of opinion. Why has the so-called “cathedral” of media, political authority, and institutional education become a world of one right answer, everything else thought-crime?
We live in a real-world of consumer capitalism. Money on the one hand, consumption on the other. Products and services, good value, poor value. Fifty years ago it would’ve been unthinkable to talk in terms of a National Health Service offering value for money. Value for whose money? Taxpayers? Do people get a refund on bad value years? In any case, it’s 2020 and public services are part of the consumer capitalist economy. Let’s get back to the opening questions.
Everything in the media, everything in the papers is ultimately subordinated to the advertising imperative. Advertising typically places itself in-between content (else we wouldn’t watch) but the content serves the advertising, make no mistake. Marketing is the big money spigot for big tech and the biggest money is in Big Data. Advertising needs expert psychology, too. It wants its message absorbed by the audience. It wants brand recognition. It wants to parse desire into products and services. It succeeds when it turns ambition into greed.
Advertising has analyzed the Big Data. It predicts your viscera better than you predict it yourself. Advertising knows desire is parsed into product and absorbed as brand recognition best when your mind is passive, non-resistant to the advertising. Advertising has studied human biology. It knows the human brain uses conscious problem solving to deal with the world when it’s serving up problems; when the limbic mindful moment is in discord. Disagreement is a problem. Encountering disagreement wakes the pro-active conscious mind, fuelled with feel-bad emotions, the first reaction being to resist.
Advertising doesn’t want you to resist. Advertising knows an active conscious human being is a whole different animal to a passive one. Advertising wants you passive. Accord is navigated unconsciously, passive. Advertising wants to offer you the path of no resistance in a complex world, and advertising regulates the media, content included. Entertainment needs to be in accord, more mainstream, greater accord. Make it anodyne. Make it homogenous. News needs somehow to present its clickbait fear-porn without it being discord. How? Confirmation bias, audience selection by demographics, echo chambers. Confirmation bias rules the roost. Off-demographic dissonance within the echo chamber is purged. News reports truth, albeit cherry-picked to suit the echo chamber. If it can’t be cherry-picked into accord with the confirmation bias, truth goes bye-bye. Demographics ensure the best response for best-suited products.
Woke identity politics and conspiracy theory Luddite individualism are two sides of the same campaign, the most ambitious advertising campaign in history. The campaign is advertising orthodoxy. Two teams – red team blue team – polarizing the population, both poles selling orthodoxy that aligns with the business needs of corporate oligarchy and the directives of governments it controls. What is the orthodoxy? In a word: consumerism. Consumerism is an innocuous, ambiguous word in most people’s vocabulary. But the ambiguity is part of the conditioning. Consumption is not a mix of positives and negatives. The orthodoxy we’re sold is the reality of billions of human lives committed to consumer capitalism and its need for a population of perpetual consumption.
Consumerism demands consumers. It wants us unconscious, following the trends. Trending. It wants us conforming to our profile demographic data. Polarized consumers are the most docile – following ideology, suspending critical faculties, unconscious orthodoxy: these are the best-honed consumers. Big business is all-in on identity politics. It doesn’t care about nuance or uncontrollable voices – cancel them! It’s truth and fact and faith and opinion reduced to a worldview that’s all brand names. A renamed building is a rebranded building. A trans man identifying as a trans man is a human self-branding; training others to see people through a lens of identity branding. Consumers of identity. Consumers consuming branded virtue. Consumers consuming a branded world of brand name products and brand name people.
The market is a macroeconomic engine perpetually seeking profit to exploit. Including exploitation of people, by people, for people. The oligarchs of the market have been well-served by the consumer capitalist system. It should be no surprise, once corporate wealth broke cover in its takeover of government (90s neoliberalism and denouement in the aftermath of the Financial Crisis 2007/2008) they used successful consumer capitalist model to ‘upgrade’ old-fashioned truth, fact, and integrity politics. We live in that upgrade. We get a plethora of new features: eye-catching branding, clear and urgent team orthodoxy, and a panoply of celebrity (and caricature) to guide our consumption. Good guys and bad guys. Buy this. Don’t buy that. Doesn’t matter which team you choose, so long as you choose one. Doesn’t matter which orthodoxy guides your consumption, so long as you keep consuming…
These are the terms of the 21st-century social contract. It permeates every interaction outside your intimate circle. Maybe it wouldn’t matter that consumerism is anti-culture (except as costume and cuisine), maybe it’s old-fashioned to value knowledge above information. Individualism could be argued as an unnecessary risk in populations of millions happily snapchatting their selfies, working their rent-seeking jobs, saving and buying and creating debt, enriching creditors, cheering the confident team-values, voting the latest celebrity king-for-a-day, jeering the evil Eurasia or Eastasia or whoever is the enemy of the day. Maybe the world could carry on blithely from generation to generation, rulers and ruled sated by a never-ending cycle of consumables. Except it can’t.
Consumption eventually exhausts the exploited resources. Perpetual growth is an unsustainable model. It sustains itself on forced money supply, institutionalized wageslavery, and – most of all – a calculated mortgaging of the future. To feed value into the present. The mortgaged future derives value from the evidence of the present (what is here, valuable, today) and the hope – optimism – for the future (what it’s value will be, years hence). Humans are an optimistic species, for the most part, but contrary to the words of Alexander Pope, hope does not spring eternal. As the exploitation of human resources needs to take more and more from people with less and less left to give, eventually even the docile consumers find their path of no resistance ends at the edge of a cliff.
If human society is allowed to reach this point of no return – where consumer capitalism has run out of exploitation, used up all the hope and optimism that had been driving the appropriation of future ‘wealth and resource potential’, devoured the resources of the finite planet – it may be the docile consumers with nothing left to consume, at the edge of a cliff, caught between the burning lands and the deep toxic sea.