Contrary to the expected dynamic of a democratic society we are ruled by an invisible authority — one that governs our tastes, forms our opinions and lends us our identities. Unlike the Pravda or the CCP, our invisible governor does not disseminate its propaganda from a single discernible source rather it exploits our consumerist culture to subtly manipulate our shallow identities and manufacture consensus. An assortment of diverse lifestyles and identities are generated to offer us a spiritual direction representative of our individuality. However this diversity is as superficial as the soda aisle at a supermarket — different packaging for the same underlying product. Its true purpose is to provide the illusion of choice to disguise a hidden agenda to breed ideological conformity.
The subconscious manipulation of the masses via our corporations hinges on the nature of consumers to build their ego around the things they consume — the same tendency for someone who watches Jon Stewart or listens to Joe Rogan to consider themselves part of the Inner Party Intelligentsia. A member of such a Party might also read the NYT, eat at Sweetgreen and shop at Outdoor Voices — brands that will all use the same bold messaging regarding social and political issues to signal their alliance with the party line. Consumption becomes a means to signal in-group status leading to a hypersensitivity to social differences associated with our cultivated identities —members might be trained to recognize a fellow Party member by their $120 leggings and someone wearing non-eco-conscious trainers or shopping at Walmart as a Fox News watching credulous moron. All the while, members would be convinced of their individuality (after all they did select these products from a wide array of options) and reinforced of the sociopolitical opinions that make them a Good Person™️ without ever questioning the external forces that conspired the promotion of that consensus.
Companies using social causes to manipulate the masses and create natural demand for their own products is a strategy that has been well documented. In the 1930s when women smoking cigarettes was a cultural taboo perceived as classless and unladylike, Lucky Strike cigarettes launched a PR campaign designed to expand their market. Using the platform of female equality, their cigarettes were rebranded as “torches of freedom” — empowering women to smoke their cigarettes as a bold statement against patriarchal norms. Opposing women smoking Lucky Strike became synonymous with opposing feminism (how could you possibly be against that?) and so women consumed more cigarettes out of rebellion to their naysayers and pride for their newfound liberation.
The Lucky Strike case shows how corporations market products bundled with grander personal causes in order to appeal to our carefully cultivated identities. These are usually causes with taboos around their critical scrutiny or special resistance to contradiction (any obviously good idea). That way any objection to the product or its mechanics of consensus manufacturing is interpreted as an attack on the morality of the consumers who “chose” the product as representative of their identity. And when the identity comes under threat, the impulse is to consume more of the product in defiance to signal loyalty to Party values. The more the identity is under attack, the more the emotional response to consume. It’s important to note that this leads to the perverse incentive for the profiteers of our consumption to actually seek conflict that keeps our identities under constant threat.
What I’ve been consuming recently
strange time for america. some of the most optimistic people i know who have long been ardent supporters of american values for the first time have expressed concern & uncertainty for the future.
lots of ugliness online must retvrn to beauty