- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Only the lonely.

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on September 08, 1999 at 13:39:33:

In Reply to: communities only good? posted by Gee on September 07, 1999 at 12:59:26:

: It doesnt pretend that actual wants are infinite, its applied to economic models as a 'close fit'. Hence it would fail if applied to a person who doesnt want a yacht, but works at a large scale in analysing the 'luxury travel' goods.

i have been told often enough though, by economics students that economics can be defined as 'scarcity management' or 'infinite wants versus finite resource', and so long as that is the a priori definition, that is what you'll get.

Wants=needs. Even when someone wants a luxury yacht, they need one, perceptively, because of the symbolic construction of their self-hood, they think they need the yacht to be human, be recognised. Such symbolic constructions occur socially.

: Advertising is glossy information about whats out there but its hardly the only, nor even the major means of creating awareness. Word of mouth is far more powerful ("that brush is good huh? I'll get one"). If you pause to consider people in a light other than Pavlov's dog you would perceive advertising for what it is, without its supposed 'control' feature.

But its not teh spcific prodct in question, its the cultural production of subjectivities in a society dominated by advertising (where our dominant images of humanity come through adverts), and its about associations, images, hence the success of tobacco at pushing a suave sophisticated and sexy image to a foul smelling weed. Such associations are passed on into word of mouth- advertising must be effective, or busienss wouldn't spend millions on it.

Coca-Cola is the classic example, Coke is 'the real thing', coke *is* America. Much of Cokes success comes from its hugely successful advertising schemes.

Its an ęsthetic matter, not pavlovian, simply that people's apprehension of the world, their value structures, and self-images are refracted through the massive amount of social investment and effort that goes into advertising. I am sexy if I buy...

It would be foolish 9and un-demonstrable) to say, advertising X makes people directly buy x, however, it is demonstrable to say that advertising creates a consumer culture in which people have extra needs.

: Theoretical speculation and assumptions of causality. "communal bonds of sharing and extended family " which you assume only to be positive can also be restrictive and strangling despotism for many people, and that moving away from it is for some a benefit not a loss. communal bonds or sharing to be experienced as positive would also need to be provisional and revocable by those within it.

Community break-down is demonstrable in the obscene crime rates across the world. It can be shown that the onset of capitalism saw the break up of village communities, later communities that were formed inc ities have repeated been broken up.

A recent article in new Statesman saw an economist blaming home ownership for unemployement. basically he thought when people own their own homes their less free to travel for new jobs- i.e. capitalism makes of us all an itinerant workforce. (it was cobblers, of course, but hell).

: I have noticed the tendency to blame any mental instability on 'capitalism', to assume causality.

Annorexia, IIRC can be seen as an attempted assertion of control over self/body within a symbolic structure that place heavy demands on a womans body (my theory on this is shaky, know some people wrote about it...). this would not be capitalism per se, but the aweful injunction of conumerism to consume, to buy, and to be this impossible icon of woman hood (as an interesting note, it can be argued that such construction of womanhood are male fantasies, hennce why drag queens look more feminine than most women- cute discussion point).

: Do they? Perhaps you think this, when I buy something or sell something I dont imagine anything of the sort.

Consciously? have you never bought an object for its symbollic ramifications?

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