Culture & Media
No Logo by Naomi Klein
The book that made Klein famous is an attack on the labeling, advertising and marketing of everything. She quotes Nike’s Phil Knight: “There is no value in making things any more.” The abstract brand is everything, and anything can be branded, as Marxist Che Guevara graces tee-shirts and soda cans in death. The very thing that made and sustained the middle class, the skilled manufacture of things, has been moved out of sight.
Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges
Hedges argues that we hide our serious problems behind myth and illusion, which allows us to move toward our destruction without thinking. “The worse reality becomes, the less a beleaguered population wants to hear about it, and the more it distracts itself with squalid pseudo-events of celebrity breakdowns, gossip, and trivia. These are the debauched revels of a dying civilization.”
Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich
Suffering from cancer and disgusted by the excessive treacle of positive thinking, the author investigates and demolishes the bizarre turn of mind associated with positive psychology. Everybody needs some positive thinking, but our society, terrified, is now choking on it. “Sometimes we need to heed our fears and negative thoughts,” she reminds us. She ironically reminds us: “Why worry, when Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ will straighten everything out?” Why worry, indeed?
The Working Class Majority by Michael Zweig
“Class is primarily a matter of power, not income,” says Professor Zweig. Power over the rules of economics is what defines class, not whether or not you have a big-screen TV. His thesis is that most Americans are working class, not middle class. Middle class defined: a doctor or other professional, a middle manager in a large company, or a small business owner. If you ain’t that and you ain’t rich, you’re working class.
The Image by Daniel Boorstin
Boorstin (who was politically conservative) gives us the very useful word, pseudo-event. The most important aspect of the pseudo-event is its ability to be a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” If I announce that I am a famous man at a well-attended press conference, then it instantly is true. (Pseudo-events are neither lies nor propaganda.) Kim Kardashian is an avatar of the pseudo-event.