Thursday, June 03, 2010


Crises of consumerism:

In the great contest between cultures, a power culture emerged which consolidated capital between two populist forms: a socialism, and a consumerism. Where socialism played to certain needs, consumerism invented them.

Well, I like the part about socialism playing to certain needs, while consumerism invents them. That much is true.

I don't know enough about the economic system of the Soviet Union to say whether it had an intrinsic capital component or not; it certainly exhibited symptoms of it. My inclination is to say it was "socialist," not if we define "socialism" as worker control of production -- it certainly wasn't that -- but if we define it as a conscious attempt to confront the problems of capitalism under particular circumstances, which I believe it was.

I am disinclined to say that the "socialism" of the USSR was just a cynical power grab, or just capitalism as managed exclusively by the state. It may have been these things as well, but just because power becomes a problem shouldn't render to any endeavor the option to say "it's not really what it was intended to be!" Power always becomes a problem, and the point is, you have to deal with it. Perhaps you have something to say about this.

I think what we can take away from this is the idea of a power culture which is expressed through populist forms. People who lived through 20th century-style "socialism" should tell us about it, because what anybody else can say about it isn't usually worth very much. What we have to examine for ourselves is consumerism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

however you define what was going on in the Soviet Union, Western hostility towards "it" means something.

also, is it a coincidence that the Red Menace "grew" in the 50's as consumerism began to run amok?