Saturday, December 28, 2013

Eso’s Chronicles 263 / 3
23—The Rapids of Affluenza
© Eso A.B.

The following link begins with the following paragraph:

Journalist Glenn Greenwald condemned the mainstream media during an address at a German computer conference on Friday and accused his colleagues of failing to challenge erroneous remarks routinely made by government officials around the globe.

While the article specifically names the U.S. and British media for cooperating with governments and “failing to challenge erroneous remarks…” the sentence is inclusive of ALL government officials and media “around the globe”. I suppose that the U.S. and British media are mentioned because traditionally they are thought to represent the heydays of media in its early days, if no longer today. This was, no doubt, because both countries developed newspapers for a mass market, which through such markets had a wide influence on the actions of the country. For example, the Hearst newspapers in the U.S. are held responsible for fanning the Spanish-American War (1890s) , while Lord Beaverbrook is known as owner of numerous English newspapers, the Daily Express and the London Evening Standard including,_Lord_Beaverbrook . Beaverbrook advocated the benefits of British imperialism. He as well as Herst established the insertion and propagation of government interests among the public as a matter of routine.

As we see, the propagation of routine “erroneous remarks” by government officials in the media has a long tradition. From the beginning error has gained additional credibility through advertising, the medias’ main source of income, which is also better known as a vehicle for ‘sales’ rather than accuracy about the serviceability of its product.

The early success of the public media, government, the middle class may be compared to a herd of wildebeests coming on new green pastures and, as a result, multiplying ‘as if there is no tomorrow’. It is this combination and confluence of factors that eventually resulted in what we now know by the word “affluenza” . As the link argues under the subhead of ‘Theory’, the phenomenon is not new and its criticism may be traced to Marxist criticism of consumption starting with Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen.

However, what Marx (1818-1883) and Veblen (1857-1929) observed still as if from a distance has by our own day become not only an epidemic, but a catastrophe. A very simple example will illustrate this:

When a young mother of several children who I know recently told me that she had no winter boots, I offered to contribute to their purchase. We went to a shoe store, which had shoes and boots that were both practical and of the ‘dressy’ sort. The young woman immediately went for the ‘dressy’ ones and refused to look at the ‘practical’ and sturdier shoes. She picked a pair of boots that were studded with crystal-like glass beads. This is not to say that I am against boots with enhanced looks, but like the American Indians, I am still at the stage of cultural development when I would then rather buy the glass beads and string them into decorative patterns myself, rather than have it come to me factory made. While I have not reason to be critical of the young mother, I do know whence her sensibility comes: re, the public media--television, internet, newspapers, and advertising--and the fact that most of these originate in an urban environment and propagate that environment to the most distant corners of the countryside. This is what is called ‘dumbing down’  the public.

As the catastrophe of a dumbed down public at this time has become obvious to all who retain some critical perspective and one reads frequent exclamations about how could this be, everyone questioned is left with but a tautology: “There is nothing to be done. That is how it is.”

And that is indeed ‘how it is’: the puppy has been caught up by the flood waters and is, this very moment, sucked into the black hole of drainage pipe. And if the puppy were you, me, or our children, we—entangled by the ‘bubbly’ attitude of the media, which acts as a de facto affluenza virus--could still be thinking about buying glass studded party boots, rather than cabbage and pumpkin seeds for our garden.

As we enter the final days of 2013, here is yet another supporter of the affluenza “bubble” going “pop” and spreading the virus. . Not surprisingly the man claims there is nothing to fear but fear itself. So, have another bubbly, but note the man’s ‘disclaimer’!

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