book review part 2 - Idea System and Institutions 1...

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Unformatted text preview: Idea System and Institutions 1. Three Basic Worldviews:  Tradition o The status quo is the “natural” order of things. o Social order is equivalent to cosmic order. o Social roles are predetermined: o “Know your place.” o Sumptuary Laws o Relative lack of social mobility. o Relative lack of ethical reflection. o Relatively inhospitable to advertising. o Traditional Consumption (SCA 34-35): Not thrifty. Linked to seasons and community rituals. o Heirlooms and ritual objects. o Traditional Production: Householding o Then: Industrial Revolution, Continuous-process production, Industrial Revolution o David M. Potter: The Institution of Abundance Abundance: potential supply exceeds existing demand. Production capacity exceeds consumer demand. o How did advertising promote abundance? Economy of scarcity: demand exceeds supply. Economy of abundance: advertising must create demand by focusing on consumers’ desires.  Authority o Rule by an elite few over the common many. o Grounds of power may vary: – Monarchy – Aristocracy – Oligarchy – Plutocracy o In arguments and public discussion, social status is more important than intelligence and rational validity. o Advertising can be used to justify and rationalize hierarchies of authority (propaganda). o Advertising can reinforce the worldviews and commands of the ruling elite. o Emergence of Consumer Society – Group values: Modesty, obedience to authority, religious faith, filial piety. What about Confucian values? – Individual values: Self ­expression, self ­esteem, creativity, uniqueness, originality, reflexivity. – How consumer society works: “The inequality of the sphere of production continually reproduces inequalities that fuel status wars which create a continual expansion of needs as people attempt to distinguish themselves from each other” (SCA 85).  Classical Liberalism o Different from idea of liberalism usually referred to in American mass media. o The sovereign individual: – “Naturally” self ­interested. – Rational in pursuing own interests. o Our errors are caused by imperfect education or inadequate information. o Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations – The Invisible Hand “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self ­love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” o Features of Classical Liberalism – Egoism • Self ­interest is predominant human motivation • Ayn Rand interview with Mike Wallace. • Relative disregard for traditional social obligations. • Altruistic motives are signs of weakness or disguised resentment and self ­interest. • Advertising helps people serve their egoistic interests by providing them information about things they might want. • The Harm Principle “The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self ­protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” – Intellectualism • Human behavior is deliberate and calculating. • Errors are caused by imperfect education or inadequate information. • Individuals are capable of making choices that serve their own interests and preferences. • Therefore: Advertising cannot easily deceive and manipulate people. – Quietism • Effort is painful, a hassle. • People will only exert effort when there is a worthwhile reward for doing so. • Without being stimulated into action, people will remain “quiet”: apathetic, passive, inactive. • Advertising stimulates people to exert efforts that serve their interests. – Atomism • Individuals are the atoms that make up the whole of society. • Power is fragmented, not concentrated. • How does this benefit or harm individuals or society as a whole? • Group demands have lower moral priority than “the sovereign self ­ seeking individual.” • The Good: diversity wins out over conformity (marketplace of ideas). • The Bad: weak social integration (Hobbes’s war of everyone against everyone; mass society). – The Market System • Markets are self ­contained and self ­correcting. • Market laws are equivalent to the “natural” laws of human nature and society (Social Darwinism). • Competition keeps markets working efficiently to the benefit of everyone. • Threats: monopolies, government regulation. • Laissez ­faire: “leave the market alone.” • Governments tend to be paternalistic, inept, and inefficient. • Ronald Reagan (1981): “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” • Therefore, regulation and taxation are tyrannical intrusions on individual achievement in the marketplace. • Regulation and taxation are tyrannical intrusions on individual achievement in the marketplace. ...
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