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Guest Post: Narcissism, Consumerism And The End Of Growth

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Narcissism, Consumerism And The End Of Growth

The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism now include narcissistic consumerism and definancialization.

Today I'm going to tie together the major themes I have been discussing in the context of Japan being the bellwether of economic stagnation and social recession. The basic idea is that Japan offers a limited but still insightful experiment in what happens to advanced consumer-driven economies as definancialization hollows out the economy.

What happens is that economic malaise leads to profound social recession that affects society, workplaces, families, individuals that then feeds back into the economic stagnation.

Definancialization is the process in which excessive speculation, debt, leverage reverse, crushing the economy with malinvestment and legacy debt while the crony-capitalist Central State attempts to stem the resulting deflation with massive, sustained Keynesian stimulus (fiscal deficits).

What we're seeing in Japan is the confluence of three dynamics: definancialization, the demise of growth-positive demographics and the devolution of the consumerist model of endless "demand" and "growth."

Japan is the leading-edge of the crumbling model of advanced neoliberal capitalism: that consumerist excess creates wealth, prosperity and happiness.

What consumerist excess actually creates is alienation, social atomization, narcissism, and a profound contradiction at the heart of the consumerist-dependent model of "growth": the narcissism that powers consumerist lust and identity is at odds with the demands of the workplace that generates the income needed to consume.

One theme that weaves together this week's essays on Japan is the cultural/economic shift that is eroding the traditional Japanese corporate workplace.

Japan and the Exhaustion of Consumerism
The Hidden Cost of the "New Economy": New-Type Depression
The Future of America Is Japan: Stagnation
The Future of America Is Japan: Runaway Deficits, Runaway Debts

The younger generation of workers raised in a consumerist "paradise" are facing an economic stagnation that reduces opportunities to earn the high income needed to fulfill the consumerist demands for status symbols. Given the hopelessness of earning enough to afford the consumerist lifestyle, they have abandoned traditional status symbols such as luxury autos and taken up fashion and media as expressions of consumerism.

But the narcissism bred by consumerism has nurtured a kind of emotional isolation and immaturity, what might be called permanent adolescence, which leaves many young people without the tools needed to handle criticism, collaboration and the pressures of the workplace.

Narcissism is the result of the consumerist society's relentless focus on the essential project of consumerism, which is "the only self that is real is the self that is purchased and projected."

Christopher Lasch (1932 – 1994) wrote The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations in 1979. The book's subtitle captured the angst of the 1970s; though rampant financialization and the Internet reinvigorated the U.S. economy in the 1980s and 90s, the subtitle accurately expresses the New Normal.

While his analysis cannot be easily summarized, he zeroed in on the ontological essence of narcissism: a fear of the emptiness that lies at the very core of consumerism.

Sociologist Daniel Bell's 1988 book, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism brilliantly laid out the contradiction at the heart of all consumer-dependent cultures:

This classic analysis of Western liberal capitalist society contends that capitalism-- and the culture it creates--harbors the seeds of its own downfall by creating a need among successful people for personal gratification--a need that corrodes the work ethic that led to their success in the first place.

In the modern iteration of the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, the narcissism that results from the focus on personal gratification via consumption cripples the person in the workplace. Ironically, the flattening of corporate management and the demands for higher interpersonal skillsets has eroded the security provided by the strict hierarchy of previous eras.

Instead of working less and doing easier work--the implicit promise of "endless growth"-- the work is becoming more challenging and insecure even as compensation declines.

If there is any personality that is unsuited for the "New Normal" workplace, it is the narcissistic consumer--the very type of person that our consumption-dependent economy creates, nurtures and demands. That is the new Cultural Contradiction of Capitalism.

"Personal gratification" is the driver of narcissism and consumerism, which are two sides of the same coin. Consumerist marketing glorifies the "projected self" as the "true self," encouraging self-absorption even as it erodes authentic identity, self-esteem and the resilience which enables emotional growth--the essential characteristic of adulthood.

Personal gratification is of a piece with self-absorption, fragile self-esteem and an identity that is overly dependent on consumerist signifiers and the approval of others.

No wonder Japan's "lost generations" are lost: not only are expectations of secure, high-income jobs diminished, the work is more demanding and the security and pay are too low to support the consumerist lifestyle that society has implicitly promised everyone who goes to college and works hard as a birthright.

Jesse recently wrote a brilliant, insightful essay, Empire of the Exceptional: The Age of Narcissism As he observes, narcissism has been on the rise for 30 years in advanced neoliberal economies.

In my analysis, this is the direct consequence of the supremacy of a consumerism that is dependent on financialization: an economy dependent on debt-fueled consumption to power its "endless growth" is one that will necessarily implode from its internal contradictions: debt and leverage eventually exceed the carrying capacity of the collateral and the national income, and the narcissism of consumerism leads to social recession, a crippling state of "suspended animation" adolescence and great personal frustration and unhappiness.

The ultimate contradiction in this debt-consumption version of capitalism is this: how can an economy have "endless expansion and growth" when pay and opportunities for secure, high-paying jobs are both relentlessly declining? It cannot. Financialization, consumerist narcissism and the end of growth are inextricably linked.

As I wrote yesterday, this leads to a dispiriting "no exit": It's as if there is a split in the road and no third way: some young people make it onto the traditional corporate or government career path, and everyone else is left in part-time suspended animation with few options for adult expression or development.

We need a third way that offers people work, resilience and authentic meaning. In my view, that cannot come from the Central State or the global corporate workplace: it can only come from a relocalized economy in revitalized communities.


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Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:21 | 2906233 RSloane
RSloane's picture

I don't care how bad things get, I refuse to walk around in an orange wig.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:33 | 2906241 Terminus C
Terminus C's picture


The article hits pretty close to the mark. People buy useless junk and adorn themselves in flashy and eye catching ways because they feel the moral and personal emptiness of modern life. People no longer have to have conversations with other people. Electronic goods either mediate or, increasingly, replace human interaction.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:38 | 2906254 Precious
Precious's picture

The madness of crowds chants "iPhone" "iPhone" ... 

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:56 | 2906276 Manthong
Manthong's picture

Look at the positive side..

Now we can recede into a godless, unprincipled world of hedonism and circuses as the banks and government destroy the stored value of labor and enterprise along with of the last vestiges of family tradition, self-reliance and responsibility.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:08 | 2906288 john39
john39's picture

that is exactly the point... humanity is being reduce to this empty existence because if too many learn the truth of who and what they really are, the elite control system would be destroyed in short order...  they must hide the truth at all cost.... and substitute mindless and trivial bread and circuses to fill our days.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:27 | 2906303 Precious
Precious's picture

Hey Charles.  Why don't you and Tyler give it up on the Japan bashing.  There's a fucking Wikipedia article with over 200 citations on football hooliganism - unless that's too close to your own heart.

In other words, if you want to discuss narcissism and consumerism, start in your own fucking backyard, you self-important dick.

I think you're just frustrated the Japanese guys are getting all that pussy, and you're not.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:49 | 2906543 Precious
Precious's picture

Maybe the past 250 years ... or maybe 500 ... or maybe more ...

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 00:22 | 2907311 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture


the date 1450 is 5 years after the meeting in Genoa that estabilished the gold standard for international trade...great story as re-told by fofoa through Jacques Rueff

from FOFOA:

Jacques Rueff told the story of two different monetary conferences, two "committees of experts" that both met in Genoa, and changed the course of monetary history. The first committee gathered in October, 1445, and the second one began in April, 1922, so Rueff's lecture had ten years on this second conference. The two committees gathered under similar circumstances, to respond to monetary disorder in the aftermath of a protracted war, yet they came to opposite conclusions.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:47 | 2906381 Stackers
Stackers's picture

Whose bashing anything here Precious ? I dont see it.

If the truth hurts maybe its time to turn CNN back on and go back to sleep.

Japan gets "picked on" as you put it, because it just happens to be first in the line we are all standing in.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:15 | 2906549 Precious
Precious's picture

Then maybe you'll be next.

By the way, I would never say anything as timid as "picked on". 

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:28 | 2906432 Renewable Life
Renewable Life's picture

Jesus Christ clown, you just validated the fucking article in one response, your a true testament to your culture!!! Instead of looking deeper into the reality you face, your narrasistic ass, deflects the attention away, criticizes someone else's culture, then you drop some teen age boy psychology, with the reference to "who's getting more pussy"!!!

Your stupid ass picture needs to be below the one of the girls in their orange hair! Oh that must be the pussy, you were referring too!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:25 | 2906680 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

one of those "girls" is not.  a girl, that is. . . spot the difference.

I realise most here won't see beyond the picture used as a token "girly consumer" meme, but the look they've adopted actually mocks consumer-ism, particularly the kind that consumes manga of the air-brushed female genitalia variety. 

the exaggerated "Hello Kitty" look has origins decades ago in post-punk genres, and while some of these girls work the lucrative desire for very young girls in porn, many are just pointing to the easily exploited sexual desires of men, also a man-ufactured commodity nowadays.

"Used underwear that has supposedly been previously worn by schoolgirls is being offered for sale in vending machines in Japan."

again, some exploit, some profit, some mock the same - who knows which from a simple picture. . .

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:41 | 2906728 Precious
Precious's picture

Hey, Japanese peeples. Have some derision. Courtesy, I. M. Whitey-san. Your welcome. By the way. Our prison population in Alameda County outnumbers your birthrate. We also have more backyard swimming pools in Berkeley than the whole county of Japan. Take that, you funky Tokyo consumerists. Have a nice day Japanese peeples!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:52 | 2906796 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

oh gee thanks, that's more info than I needed about the author, heh.

Claire's Great Adventure

I have a particular aversion to middle-aged men writing fictional teenage girl tales. . .

and again, so do many Japanese females.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 17:07 | 2906815 Precious
Precious's picture

"The lure was successful, if completely unintended as they find out later - and they end up captured and in a compromising situation on the high seas in the clutches of a pack of Asian Ruffians instructed from afar by an Alpha female pirate. In an inspired moment, they use their panties as an escape artist's tool."  - An Amazon Reviewer

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:04 | 2906914 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

lmao, thanks for proving my point - I didn't dare hit the reviews! 

but yes, you've also made your point as well. . . the framing of certain types via story-telling.   history is full of it.  literally. 

all puns intentional.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:24 | 2906519 Hindsight2020
Hindsight2020's picture

Japan deserves to get bashed, just ask Kyle Bass.  And lay off Charles and Tyler, I don't see anyone subscribing to your RSS feed.  Any you know why?




One day I hope the comment system is changed to promote real dialogue on the topic and not this kind of BS.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:52 | 2906709 Hindsight2020
Hindsight2020's picture

You are unbelievably short-sighted if you believe past performance is any indicator of future returns.  If you looked at Bear Sterns or Morgan Stanley's stock price buying a single digit put would have looked like a sure way to give away your money and instead could have made you returns that people only dream about.  Please go learn something about what happens after a financial panic when debts are transferred to the public balance sheet.  Then do some analysis and realize what you have presented is unsustainable because Japanese rates cannot go lower, I mean unless they go all kamikaze and with negative interest rates which will really make me want to hold Yen!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:16 | 2906736 Precious
Precious's picture

Thank you, Louis Rukeyser.  You should be so lucky.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:40 | 2906986 20-20 Hindsight
20-20 Hindsight's picture

Please find your own handle... it's not like there are not a million other alternatives!  

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 23:34 | 2907272 LikeClockwork
LikeClockwork's picture

From yesterday:


 it is a phenomenon of extended adolescence, a state of "suspended animation" of young adults facing truncated opportunities for adulthood--secure careers, marriage, family, homeownership--who are stuck in a seemingly permanent adolescence.

It's as if there is a split in the road and no third way: some young people make it onto the traditional corporate or government career path, and everyone else is left in part-time suspended animation with few options for adult expression or development.

They are escaping from their glib futures, by playing dress-ups on Sunday. Harmless. Their parents fucked up the country and now they're picking through the refuse - sound familiar? Or less hysterically it's just a projection of the boom-bust cycle.


Have to laugh at the kids today comments - lazy (think)ing.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:16 | 2906309 centerline
centerline's picture

"The burden of knowing"...

Something else CHS contributed a couple years back before he was writing here at ZH.

Not so easy to be put back into the matrix.  Is why many of us are here.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:25 | 2906312 AlaricBalth
AlaricBalth's picture

Through the techniques perfected by Edward Bernays and his disciples the American people have been programmed to believe that there is empowerment through consumption. When in fact the only ones being empowered are the corporations. The use of vanity, fear, greed and paranoia, which are base human emotions, has allowed the sellers of useless consumer products to manipulate the masses into believing that it is their choice to purchase that which is truly not needed. Most people don't realize that the choice was made for them.

The constant onslaught of propaganda is turning most people into mindless Pavlovian dogs who react when the bell is rung. As I have said before, to begin combating manipulation you must first realize it exists.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:39 | 2906366 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Very well put. I recently tried to get a casino addicted acquaintance to understand the underlying research applied to maximize casino profits. Primarily done in the 1950s where they studied how they could induce rats to push a button through various stimuli including colors,flashing lights, sounds and random food rewards. This research transfered easily to humans, sadly. I was hoping she would reach some kind of epiphany... I'm being manipulated like a rat! Hell no! Instead I got : I don't know what you mean... I just like going to the casino, it's fun. People just are not interested in self examination and discovery today and thus become so ever more alienated from themselves and others.


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:00 | 2906469 RichardP
RichardP's picture

People just are not interested in self examination and discovery today ...

Why is that a problem?

A great many "inventions" were made by accidental discovery, including radium and vulcanized rubber.  Examination and discovery cannot happen in the absence of education.  The reason radium and rubber were "discovered" in the midst of an "oops" is because the observer was trained and recognized what they saw.  An untrained observer could have witnessed the same "oops" and seen nothing.  So it is with self examination and self discovery.

For the great majority of human history, humans have not been trained in the art of self-examination and self-discovery.  No one was trained how to look, and would not have known how to correctly interpret what they "saw" if they did look.

Ignorance of the deeper meanings behind personal motivations and behavior has been the natural state for humans throughout history.  Yet they seem to have been pretty successful at being born, working, and dying.  Are humans supposed to do more than that?  If you answer yes, sez who?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:54 | 2906565 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture


I agree you have called me out in the implication humans should do more than eat, work die. Perhaps my general desire for like minded people who are also on a journey of self discovery caused some judgement on my part to leak out. Ultimately I believe we are on are own path and must follow our own desires be it Gucci bags or enlightenment. Buddha did say best to travel alone than have a fool for company.

On the other hand, I do disagree about the necessity of education as a requirement for examination and discovery. Perhaps you don't mean this as modern education which I just consider indoctrination but classical education. What is needed is inquisitiveness, a willing to explore and push boundaries and acute observation. Education doesn't neccesarily fosters this. Einstein didn't excel in formal education but formulated his theories while working in a patent office. Penicillin was discovered by chance but I have worked with the fungus Penicillium for almost 30 years and have never isolated it in the manner that it was described that led to the discovery of Penicillin. So perhaps there is some amount of luck, random chance at work as well. Facinating topic, thanks for the mental work out.

Miffed :-)

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:38 | 2906624 RichardP
RichardP's picture

I try not to let my schooling interfere with my education.  Attributed to Mark Twain and Grant Allen

I meant education as the acquisition of knowledge, not schooling.  If you re-read my post with that definition in mind, perhaps it will say something different to you?  One cannot see anything without having been "educated" toward the seeing of it.

My comments were not meant to call anyone out so much as to stimulate discussion.  What does it mean to be human vs. merely animal?  Surely the lowly sloth eats, works, and dies.  Are we not something more than the sloth?  Is there not nobility in calling humans to be something more than just eaters, workers, and diers?  The philosophers say yes, but where does that activity turn from noble effort to call humans to be all they can be into crass marketing for the simple purpose of encouraging consumption (of food or knowledge)?  How do we defend against that turning?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:40 | 2906781 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Richard, I can now appreciate and savor your points. This type of conversation is a lot easier for me in a coffeehouse with a good cup of coffee rather than a blog. It's too easy to misinterpret people in this format.

Yes I believe as the philosophers do. There is an inescapable underlying need for humanity to grow. Everyone has a right to flower, to reveal his or her own full potential as a human being, to fulfill his or her mission in the world. Everyone has this right. This is the meaning of human rights. Life is an everlasting struggle with ourselves. A tug of war between moving forward and backward, between happiness and misery. We all at some point in our lives succumb to the crassness of marketing and consumerism. When I was younger I was seduced by the shiny baubles or the promise this pill would make me skinny and therefore attractive. I escaped it by intense self examination. Who am I? What do I truly want in my life? What do I really need to do to discover my true potential as a human? But this is my defense, application to humanity as a whole? I don't have an answer. Thanks for the response thought I wish we could do this over coffee!

Miffed :-)

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 21:19 | 2907169 RichardP
RichardP's picture

This type of conversation is a lot easier for me in a coffeehouse ...


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 22:30 | 2907221 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

What we need is a format like Marc Sautet's Cafe Philosophique where people can gather and discuss a variety of social issues. But I guess that was so 90s. Now I just all we got is Twitter, Facebook or blogs. Certainly a forum of sorts but quite impersonal. Anonymity does allow certain freedoms I suppose that would be lost in such a social format. Sorry so long between posts. I've been out wine tasting all day with friends while I tried to post. Frankly I'm amazed I'm still coherent!


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:31 | 2906772 Matt
Matt's picture

People are stupid, because stupidity is successful:

Also note the large number of geniuses that made great contributions to society, but did not reproduce.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:31 | 2907055 LooseLee
LooseLee's picture

Sadly, most humans are not interested in the 'art' of looking---especially inwardly. Americans are the most adverse. Chalk it up to 'Consumerism', for starters...

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:52 | 2906391 Birdmandaddy
Birdmandaddy's picture

Couldn't agree with you more... What really irks me is the fact that corporations try to sell you mass-produced goods via appealing to your need to express yourself as an individual (i.e. a LV purse made in a sweathsop by Chinamen and being sold at a 100000% markup is supposed to satisfy your need for expressing your wealth to others). 


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:25 | 2906506 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Blaming Corporations may in itself be narcissiitic as it takes the onus off the individuals choice.  Too much blame and not enough personal responsibility is our problem.  Narcissism has been around since biblical times.  The first character test for narcissism ever recorded was Solomon threatening to cut a living baby in two in order to discover who the true mother was.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:14 | 2906507 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Thirty-five million women buying the same handbag - to express their individuality.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:21 | 2906516 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

That's what narcissistic people tell themselves, in fact they want to be accepted by the crowd.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:35 | 2906535 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

X-number men all wearing the same embroidered baseball caps to show their team spirit club member-ship. . .

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:43 | 2906547 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Hipster dudes get tattoos, beards, piercings all as expressions of individuality yet they all look the same.  At the heart of it, people just have a need to belong to a "group".  All just sheeple really.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:05 | 2906655 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

yes, I agree, the need to belong to a branded socially re-cognised grouping is a sheeple trait exploited by those with things to sell, profits to be made.


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:29 | 2906767 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Tattoo r-ists profit from hipsters, they weren't forced to get them. Why is everyone a victim.  Maybe it just feels better to blame.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 17:06 | 2906813 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

oh dear, no need to let your glitter-thong ride up yer ass - no one suggested any force involved in herding sheep towards their freely chosen pens, I merely pointed out the obvious that there was profit in identifying the desired costumer-y.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:53 | 2907081 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

And there's far, far more profit to be gained in removing said tattoos (once they fall out of fashion!).

Modern Society - the Society of "You've gotta LOOK good!!"

Seems nowadays the packaging's far more important than the contents (or has it always been so?)

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 00:02 | 2907291 Blankenstein
Blankenstein's picture

Nope.  That LV bag isn't made in China like 99% of handbags.  It is hard to find a purse that doesn't cost a fortune made outside of China.  The LV bag is made in Italy.  Very sad that if one wants a handbag not made in a sweatshop, one has to pay a month's rent for it.   

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:06 | 2906406 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

Agree totally "AlaricBalth". It is sad to see the degree that marketing manipulation can drive human impluses. I see it all around me. People riot to get into stores for X-Mass sales, stand in line all night to get an i-phone 10 minutes ahead of their friends. Go into debt for 30 years to buy a huge overpriced, ugly McMansion in a tasteless area of other similar homes.

I have a family member whose only dream is to get into marketing and branding for a retail corporation. It is so sad to hear her speak of her education. Science and math are turned into tools of human manipulation. SHe can graduate from college and never have read a good piece of literature. And they call it "An Education"! NO! It is a "Trade School" for manipulatiors.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:31 | 2906615 Kayman
Kayman's picture

Funny thing that. Those that are desperately trying to pump up the resumption of the "animal spirits' of consumerism are the very people that killed the jobs and incomes of the middle class, AKA the consumer.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:29 | 2906685 AlaricBalth
AlaricBalth's picture

I would posit that a thriving American middle class is not as essential to multinational corporate earnings as it once was. The share of non-farm income attributed to labor began to decline in the early 1980's and dropped precipitously beginning in 2000. The rise of a consumer class in China, the fall of the Iron Curtain, NAFTA and rising incomes in Brazil and India have, over time, created markets for companies that prior to the 80's were non existent.

In order for Americans to maintain the standard of living they were programmed to expect, debt became paramount to replace lost income and to combat eroding purchasing power.

Like a jilted mate, the American middle class has been left behind for a more attractive, younger lover on the other side of town, and is left with nothing but memories and yearnings for times gone by.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:59 | 2907092 geekgrrl
geekgrrl's picture

I think a better metaphor might be that the middle class has been imprisoned in debt. There was never any love, it was all exploitation.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:17 | 2906940 Karl von Bahnhof
Karl von Bahnhof's picture

In the USA the goods is buying you.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:10 | 2907029 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

I've got a question for you guys.  What's the largest industry on earth?  Is it mining, metals, hi-tech, foods, government, telecomm, transportation, or what?

Give up?

It's the fashion/apparel industry. 

That should answer a lot of questions.


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:08 | 2906399 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

I agree Manthong!  Enterprise especially is not as easy a concept as it once was. Those who think they can get a small business going and work hard to make it profitable and part of their family tradition are facing giant enemies. No, not labor unions, as perhaps 50 years ago, Nope, now they face the twin enemy of Government and Corporate power.

To cut to the chase, the giant corporations and their big boxes and chain operations can easily kill off small business, that which they can't outcompete, they will get governments to regulate to death. Cities are great at this, they answer to big interests and often kill small business befoe it can even get off the ground.

Self-reliance? In 2012? Maybe up on the Yukon River in Alaska, or other remote spots where people can live the old hard life. But I know for a fact that self-reliance is mostly impossible in the giant heavily populated cities and even in samll towns. This concept takes some thinking about, but think how REALLY self reliant anyone can truely be in this day and age.

Family tradition, people can fight hard to make a good family. But the many whose families are a sick joke are still around you. They influence your kids. I got lucky, we lived in the country, far out from any town. Our kid was influenced in the traditional way and turned out great. Yet school caused a constant battle as she picked up things from her class mates that we needed to correct quickly or she would also have been lost.

I see no way out, to get back the important things is life, modern consumer society is as bad as ancient Rome at it's worst.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 03:31 | 2907441 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

unprincipled world of hedonism


No. 'Americanism' rely little on hedonism.

Hedonism has a sad feature when it comes to 'americanism': it diverts from more consumption.

A hedonistic person who finds pleasure in reading books has to take time to read books and finds her pleasures.

From that moment, that person is pushed away from the core of 'american' economics, which is consumption.

Hedonism is something that hinders an 'american'.

An 'american' is interested in consuming, not enjoying objects of consumption.

An 'american' is that person who will build up a library containing more books than she can read in her lifetime and will keep buying books for the sake of buying books and consume. Such person is not a hedonistic person and is not driven by hedonism.

The article is once again off and strives to hide the cause behind the current situation: 'americanism'.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:58 | 2906571 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture


R.D. Laing, Knots

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:18 | 2906604 juangrande
juangrande's picture

" You are not your fucking kakis ". Tyler Durden

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:32 | 2906620 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture


RD Laing, Knots

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:54 | 2906637 juangrande
juangrande's picture

Yes, a conundrum. Like all logic, you need to verify the premises. Best to start with examining " who is ' I ' "!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:43 | 2906699 centerline
centerline's picture

+1 for the basics.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 09:48 | 2907580 Zero-risk bias
Zero-risk bias's picture

Best to start with examining " who is ' I ' "!

if (i = sheep){
i begets want;

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 14:41 | 2908049 juangrande
juangrande's picture

Sheep are only sheep while they're asleep!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 23:54 | 2907285 ajax
ajax's picture

@William Banzai7: I'm also an R.D. Laing reader...  

"We have all been processed on Procrustean beds. At least some of us have managed to hate what they have made of us. Inevitably we see the other as the reflection of the occasion of our own self-division.

 The others have become installed in our hearts and we call them ourselves. Each person, not being himself either to himself or the other, just as the other is not himself to himself or to us, in being another for another neither recognizes himself in the other, nor the other in himself. Hence being at least a double absence, haunted by the ghost of his own murdered self, no wonder modern man is addicted to other persons and the more addicted the less satisfied - the more lonely.

R.D. Laing "The Politics of Experience"

"Constant Craving" : K.D. Lang

- love your work Banzai7





Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:18 | 2906424 Renewable Life
Renewable Life's picture

This was excellent reading!!! This article nails to the core, what I think many ZHers and millions of others in the west have been struggling with for years, if not longer!! This idea that consumption without end, somehow leads to prosperity and well balanced societies, which is what the consumption machines (corporations) have been selling us for decades now!! But I think most people with just a little observation and intelligence, can instinctly figure out, this is not true!

The real question NO ONE seems to be able to answer is, what do we replace this failed model with, and how do we do it???

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:09 | 2906497 B-rock
B-rock's picture

Exit Narcissism -- Enter self loathing, despair and suicide. 

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:49 | 2906523 RichardP
RichardP's picture

For examples of the middle ground between those two extremes, go visit family (not corporate) farms in the heartland, or even Oregon and Washington State.  The millions and millions of city-dwellers should go live like those family farms folks do.  Oh, wait ...

Google "rat crowding".

In March 1947 he began a 28-month study of a colony of Norway rats in a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) outdoor pen. Interestingly, even though five pregnant females over this time-span could theoretically produce 50,000 healthy progeny for this size pen, Calhoun found that the population never exceeded 200 individuals, and stabilized at 150, similar to the Dunbar number. Moreover, the rats were not randomly scattered throughout the pen area, but had organized themselves into twelve or thirteen local colonies of a dozen rats each. He noted that twelve rats is the maximum number that can live harmoniously in a natural group, beyond which stress and psychological effects function as group break-up forces.


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:31 | 2906617 juangrande
juangrande's picture

Excellent. The problem is there are not enough "shiny baubles" on the farm. You might actually find yourself.... with nothng but yourself! AAAHHH!

I've lived in 2 places in my life where the nearest Walmart was at least 1 hr. drive away ( my personal criteria for living "off the beaten path" is measured in time to get to Walmart). The majority of people come to these places thinking they want peace and quiet. The majority tend to leave inside of a year.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 00:22 | 2907316 ajax
ajax's picture



@RichardP: Allow me to disabuse you and others of your bucolic fantasies of farm life. I spent a large part of my childhood on a small family farm at the foothills of Mt. Ranier in Washington State - a dairy farm - in the late 50's early 60's. The alcoholism, family abuse stories, ignorance, jingoism, assholism, ultra-religionism etc which abounds in such settings is nothing I would ever want to relive nor expose anyone I love dearly to. Had you ever experienced any real exposure to such settings I heartily doubt you'd have written your e-mail.


Sun, 10/21/2012 - 17:52 | 2908357 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Somewhere in one of these threads, maybe this one, someone provided a link to an article dealing with the reality that personal perspective depends upon personal circumstances.  Where you stand depends upon where you sit, if you will.  That concept applies here.

I'm sorry for your bad experience with farm life.  I've also been exposed to farm life in Washington State, Indiana and Ohio, and Viginia and Maryland, but I have a perspective different from yours.  My point was only that those raised on farms generally have a sturdier handle on the basics of life and are less apt to get caught up in narcissistic activites, or self-loathing.

I was born in Enumclaw, WA - at the base of Mt. Ranier, and raised north of Seattle.  Went to school with lots of farm boys and girls, and worked on farms myself for funds in high school.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 21:55 | 2908739 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I met my husband in Spokane, Wa in high school. He was an only child and lived on a Jersey dairy farm. He offered me a job in the summer. I will say that was the most incredible experience in my life. Being a vacuous city girl I had no concept of work; that job changed my life in so many ways. I remember one day the bull had broken in to a pen with young heifers and bred them. They were too young to have calves so the decision was to abort the fetuses. It was simply economics. My husband and the vet had to go in each one with an embryo knife and cut them out. I couldn't handle it watching those parts being removed, they were several months along. I just buried my head in may lap and cried. My husband tried to console me explaining this was just part of farm life but it very hard for me. By the end of that summer I had two very calloused hands, a deep farmer tan working in the alfalfa fields, and personally knew all 85 Jersey cows by name. My husband is now a computer programmer and works on incredibly technical multimillion dollar systems but he is still carries the essence of his up bringing; an appreciation of the land, the beauty of nature and life and the realities of this world. I'm so honored to have been able to share in it.

Miffed :-)

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 01:27 | 2908940 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Miffed - you described what I only alluded to.  That kind of work can ground you in a way that few other activities can.  If you know Spokane, perhaps you know Ritzville, and maybe Wallace Idaho.  I spent time in both as a youngster.  Mid 50's to mid 60's.  Grandmother lived in Spokane. 

Somewhere in one of these threads ... someone provided a link to an article dealing with the reality that personal perspective depends upon personal circumstances.

This one.  It's actually the second page of the link provided above.

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 22:58 | 2911636 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Well, what a small world! I have never been to Ritzville but went to Moses Lake a few times. There was another Jersey dairy around that area that my husband's family used to visit. We never got as far as Wallace but we did go to Coeur d'Alene many times. My husband's farm was near Deer Park (Colbert,WA). We were there from 1977 to 1983 when we got married and I, unfortunately, coerced him to move back to my state because I was miserable with the climate. Now we both miss the seasons and hope someday to return. His mom (82 years old) still lives on the family farm and raises beef. She's the epitome of sturdy farm stock!

Thanks for the links. The pretty fed up site is a hoot. I came to the same conclusions in a more round about way but his is funnier to read. Thanks for the John Calhoun info too. I guess there is much we can as human learn from simple rodents...scary. He's description of the mice colonies during the end times was most interesting. The parallels to today are disturbing to see.

Let me know if you'd like to continue the interaction. Perhaps we could exchange emails?


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:22 | 2906610 juangrande
juangrande's picture

Exit "self"-- Enter joy, compassion, and satisfaction with life.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:05 | 2906653 Bob
Bob's picture

Exit Narcissism -- Enter self loathing, despair and suicide.

AKA, narcissistic depression.  Usually murder happens first, though.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:28 | 2906763 ken
ken's picture

Better round up Hollywood, and put it in a FEMA camp, especially if God wills it.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:28 | 2906764 ken
ken's picture

Better round up Hollywood, and put it in a FEMA camp, especially if God wills it.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:39 | 2906695 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Umm, Islam?  (That's the way Moslems see it, anyway)

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 21:26 | 2907179 Nels
Nels's picture

I think the article is way off the mark.  It is not capitalism that empties life.  It simplies creates the wealth so you have time and money to be stupid and wasteful.   The stories of the idle and wasteful rich are covered in Proverbs, and probably ever other set of stories told to teach cultural mores.

Being poor is certainly one way to focus the mind on reality, but leave me out of that solution.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 01:20 | 2907374 Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

Jesus, you guys are a bunch of unimaginative stuffed shirts.  Some kids spend a small amount of money having fun experimenting with their self image and that's supposed to be decadent, or something? 

Japanese consumerism is quite subdued in comparison with the typical American, and they use far less energy per capita. The Japanese live in very small houses, drive small cars, mostly not driving around in SUVs or buying giant screens for their media rooms, etc.  They also SAVE their money.  It's in the USA that people spend money they don't have on shiny crap that they don't need.

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 09:01 | 2907550 petolo
petolo's picture

Henry David Thoreau: "For a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone" and " Be wary of any endeavor which calls for new clothes".........especially orange wigs.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:36 | 2906249 falak pema
falak pema's picture

where have all the flowers gone long time passing; they must all be now converted into poppy or Marijuana fields! 

Once you've planted them you'll want an orange wig to go with your orange bank acount. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 22:50 | 2908808 Tangurena
Tangurena's picture

What? You aren't a Broncos fan?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:31 | 2906242 mess nonster
mess nonster's picture

I'm not narcissistic. If you don't believe me, just check out my Faceboook profile, or my blog, or my linkedin profile, or my website, or all my flickr photos of myself.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:48 | 2906557 Pool Shark
Pool Shark's picture



Nobody's as humble as I am...


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:57 | 2906641 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

I'm a legend in my own mind.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:31 | 2906243 Acet
Acet's picture

Just wanted to say that this is what I've been thinking about for a while now, the reason why I've been learning Sociology, Psychology and even Theatre alongside Economics and a lot of why I started a Tech Company with the vision of providing technology to make up for human weaknesses in financial decision-making processes (by compensating for those weaknesses one effectivelly undermines marketting and consumer society).

Of course, you put it all together in words much better than I could ever do.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:34 | 2906248 mess nonster
mess nonster's picture

Wow! I can tell by your post that you aren't narcissistic, just like me!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:09 | 2906415 Acet
Acet's picture

I was really impressed by the article since what I saw was a well put together, coherent argument with examples around a subject area about which I've been thinking about for decades now (call it my personal ideology) .

Consumer society was flawed from the beginning and what we are seeing now is the natural outcome of that. Wether you agree with then or not, plenty of people from many quadrants have been decrying what are directly or indirectly the flaws of such a societal model, from Ecologists complaining about overuse of natural resources and the mountains of garbage that result from buy-now-discard-next-year consumption, to Religious leaders denouncing the lack of Moral Compass and obsession with material possessions of today's youth, to Psychologists pointing out the infantilisation and lack of self-control of the modern adult, to Historians and Sociologists showing us the change from a model where Moral, Ethics and Honor are the highest valued personal attributes to one where External signs of wealth, Exhibitionism and Bling are celebrated, to Economists reminding us of the mathematical unsustainability of an eternal growth model when resources are not infinite.

This stuff is huge and we in Western Societies have more or less dug ourselves a deep hole with this and the walls are now collapsing on us. Either we rediscover some of the old values and habits or we'll end up like Argentina, fallen down from the 1st world.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:47 | 2906632 juangrande
juangrande's picture

This argument that "we need to go back to the way it was" is bullshit. "Today" is the most recent rendition of what the process started "back when". You can't seperate them because the paradigm is still the same. Bling was just as important 500 years ago as it is today. Just check out the Vatican or Windsor Castle. It's just more accessible (mass produced) today.

And "family values, moral compass, etc" are more mythical than real, like a Norman Rockwell. Most families back when were just as disfunctional, if not more so, than today. They were just kept in a shroud of tyranny and secrecy. Change ( the only constant) will have to come from progress not regress!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:03 | 2906650 Acet
Acet's picture

Improvement does not come from ditching everything that was done before and doing it differently now, it comes from keeping some things, improving others and replacing yet others.

Do not confuse doing things differently with progress:

- Change for the sake of being different is not progress, it's just teenage rebellion. 

Sun, 10/21/2012 - 14:49 | 2908063 juangrande
juangrande's picture

Change is inevitable.... but point taken. Mostly I'm calling out the people who pine for the good ole days thinking it will solve modern problems. When, in fact, the good ole days spawned modern problems. Actually modern problems are the same as past problems, just pigs with better lipstick and more airtime! The driving force of these problems are the same.... fear based cosciousness....the devil himself.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:44 | 2906700 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Beacon Press (MA)) – Trade paperback (1991) by Herbert Marcuse, Professor Douglas Kellner, Ph.D. (Designer)

ISBN: 0807014176

Originally published in 1964, One-Dimensional Man quickly became one of the most important texts in the ensuing decade of radical political change. This second edition, newly introduced by Marcuse scholar Douglas Kellner, presents Marcuse's best-selling work to another generation of readers in the context of contemporary events.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:44 | 2906263 Money Squid
Money Squid's picture

Just before the meltdown I went back to school to study economics. Never heard nor read such bullshit in my life. Here I was studying economics and the "best and brightest" of wall street were crashing and burning all around threatening to take the country with them. Previous economic theory ignored human behavior and totally failed when the heard got spooked.  Anyone, and I mean anyone, can call themselves and economist, as long as you have two hands. Study business finance and do just the opposite. Save your money, invest your money, be your own bank. By borrowing money to grow your business you are sliding into the banking trap. Just talk to your customers or potential customers and produce what they want at a good price point and with quality. Your business will grow.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:58 | 2906396 traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

Yes, running a small business is just that simple. /s/

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:52 | 2906468 Renewable Life
Renewable Life's picture

Ya it actually IS just that simple, I've been doing it for over 15 years, on exactly those simple principles and policies (well the savings and no borrowing part only the last 7-8 years) and it works!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:04 | 2906648 Kayman
Kayman's picture

 Money Squid

Read Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" and Heilbroner's "The Worldly Philosophers".  Economics was not born of mathematical precision but of conflicted human behaviour.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:32 | 2906244 Schmuck Raker
Schmuck Raker's picture

Is this the death knell for breast implants?

Oh, the humanity!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:51 | 2906274 ISEEIT
ISEEIT's picture

Let's hope so. Fake tit's are definitely symbolic of cultural degradation. How different really is it between a 'culture' that demands head to toe covering of Females and one that promotes such absurd and grotesque perversions of individual dignity (fake tit's)?

I don't know that Narcissism per se is the deeper issue. I would tend to view narcissism as a symptom.

The disease is lack of authenticity and fidelity to who we each separately and together, truly are.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:02 | 2906282 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

and they never bounce right.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:51 | 2906464 JoeSexPack
JoeSexPack's picture

Can't push them together to touch, after a few years.


Feel hard as tennis balls.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:00 | 2906476 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

but you can post about 'em on a blog and it instantly makes you one o' the lads!

wot's not to love?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:18 | 2906943 Matt
Matt's picture

Implants are going to be obsolete soon enough anyways. Saline injection if you just want something temporary, or stem cells for something more permanent (while being much more natural).

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:03 | 2907020 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

lol "natural" - obviously "natural" is not a consideration any more. . .

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:13 | 2906737 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

And they spread out too wide. I know a woman who had a boob job and then had another operation to correct the fact that her fake boobs were too wide.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:10 | 2906289 TrulyStupid
TrulyStupid's picture

Narcissim is self fascination and self indulgence. The inability to understand, care or even consider others. It is the disease of our time. We are taught at an early age to brand ourselves and create a narrative to support our persona. We suffer from cultural narcissism as it is a given that America's views are the only ones that count. The corporate world is populated by business leaders who are narcissitic sociathpaths whose only goal is to accumulate personal wealth regardless of the consequences and to game the rules to hold their advantage. We put our faith in those who are self-confident and self promoting in spite of our visceral misgivings. Childhood narcissism has nothing on the narcissism of the Trumps, Romneys, banksters, religous leaders... these kids are powerless and regressing into fantasy.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:46 | 2906553 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

couldn't agree more with your post, (not)TrulyStupid.  amrkns have been bred to be inwardly focused, to not think or care about anything or anyone that isn't part of their select tribe, the chosen ones.  why bother with the rest of the world when you're "#1!!"

now the labels are peeling off the product, the story is stale, cracks are letting the reality seep in. . . reminiscent of the movie "Brazil" where the vehicles travel on roads completely lined with scenic billboards showing fields of greenery, when directly behind the boards are polluted decrepit factories. . .

We are taught at an early age to brand ourselves and create a narrative to support our persona.

this is where the capitalist consuming culture was herded, it was inevitable that a social media that focuses solely on posting your i-personality in order to fit in with the other cattle would triumph over actual individuals capable of critical thinking.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:07 | 2906657 juangrande
juangrande's picture

" Amrkans have been trained to be inwardly focused". Maybe, but only in an ADS way. Spend enough time focusing inwardly and you can see who you really are. Realize who you really are, you become difficult, if not impossible to manipulate. Thats what really is missing from education ( for good reason in the eyes of the system ).

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:54 | 2906708 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

"inwardly focused" was a poorly chosen descriptive - self-centered would be more accurate.

I agree that self-realisation, while made quite narcissistic with the yoga/exercise/meditationtm franchises, is available to anyone regardless of monies held - truly recognising the Self and seeing that Self in others is a rarity in consumer culture, of course, which relies on exterior sameness for brand loyalty or desire.

and of course, we know that "education" was created to manufacture the consumer-automatons we have en masse nowadays. . .

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:08 | 2906660 Kayman
Kayman's picture


Narcissism... and you left out Obama ?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:52 | 2906711 11b40
11b40's picture

If you can look at & listen to Romney, then only call Obama out for narcissism, then perhaps 'truly stupid' does apply. None of these Bozos can rise to such a level without being severely infected.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:19 | 2906316 Marley
Marley's picture

Great post, thanks.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:08 | 2906483 Manthong
Manthong's picture

“I would tend to view narcissism as a symptom” 

Me, too. I see narcissism as the symptom of a psyche that lacks sufficient empathy for others (family, other local groups and society) to be appropriately self-disciplined and engaged in constructive outward focused activity.

( ed. "The inability to understand, care or even consider others" - as stated by his, Truly)

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:00 | 2906572 Sokhmate
Sokhmate's picture

I see individual narcissism as a disease, not a symptom.
There is at least one study that attributes narcissistic predisposition, to genes. Livesley WJ, Jang KL, Jackson DN and Vernon PA, Am J Psychiatry 1993 150(12):1826-1831

I'm not discounting nature/nurture.
My view from personal experience is : once narc is manifested in a person, it's hopeless. GTFO of any relation with such person.
Just my view. Just saying.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:51 | 2906636 RichardP
RichardP's picture

... once narc is manifested in a person, it's hopeless. GTFO of any relation with such person.

Much of the literature on Narcissism, and personal anecdotes from folks who deal with it, say the same thing.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:23 | 2906675 Bob
Bob's picture

Nobody finds narcissists more disgusting than other narcissists do.  Psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg was an ironic example.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:37 | 2906673 Bob
Bob's picture

OTOH, environment seems to play an important part, even for adults. 

I was shocked to find so few sociopaths around me when I started law school (a short-lived mistake), but appalled to find myself surrounded by them when I attended their parties a few years after graduation.  Likewise during grad school in psychology, when I was shocked to see MD's in their psychiatric residencies exhibiting uncanny humility and compassion, but a few years later impressive mainly for their sheer audacity as professional assholes lacking any apparent redeeming value as human beings.

I would not be too surprised to see the same hold true in other fields, perhaps even finance. 

See enough cases of this and you start to question the conceptual adequacy of personality as an explanation of who people are and what they do.  Did the nazi's suddenly change the personalities of the entire German population?

Hell, even resident troll ananonymous has a valid point about our stunning hypocrisy as Americans.  Yet we continue to condemn those "above us" whose greatest real distinction may be that they're simply making it pay better than we do . . . in spite of the horrors we collectively perpetrate on so much of humanity outside our borders.

Perhaps power really does corrupt, pure and simple.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 16:26 | 2906758 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

perhaps the un-questioned worship of power is the corrupting influence, in that it becomes all that is sought in the end, power over.

if one accepts the idea that "money is power" as is so heavily promoted in capitalist cultures, the "greed is good" non-sense (because money buys everything that others recognise as power-ful), then the obvious worship of the acquisition of money, & bought-stuffs is the pinnacle of power.

which, in my opinion, is what we have in the world, what's is advertised and promoted - power.  it encompasses the mighty military meme, the Wall Street suited narcissist, the white coats of holy science, right down to the muscle-neck security surrounding the public figures. . . it's about power, which is purchased with money, however ill-gotten.

it also explains how successful cultural manipulation occurs, pitting types against each other - the bitterness of "white men" who feel they've lost their "natural" cultural supremacy, undermined by "illegals" or even "women" - both "classes" supposedly taking jobs that used to belong exclusively to the family "breadwinner" class, and now go for whatever pay the employers can get someone to accept.  loss of cultural status/power.

AnAny's posts make much more sense when the "american" tag isn't so heavily self-identified with, and defended as personal. . .

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 21:11 | 2907160 geekgrrl
geekgrrl's picture

This all jives with the Milgram experiments and the Stanford Prison experiment.

One of the questions I've had for a while now is: what leads some people to overcome their indoctrination experiences? Many people here have broken through parts of our culture's conditioning process in their own way, which is an incredibly hopeful sign, but it doesn't answer why. I don't have even the slightest clue on this question, but if it could be answered it might go a long way to helping other folks break free of their conditioning as well.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 23:11 | 2907250 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I've been grappling with this question for many years now and have not found an answer. For me it started at the most unlikely places Jamba Juice. I picked up a small book called The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz while waiting for my smoothie. That was my distance step out of indoctrination or "domestication" as he calls it. So for me it was a random event. Scary thought if this is the only way out. Hopefully for others it is more purposeful.

Miffed :-)

Thu, 10/25/2012 - 22:00 | 2920452 geekgrrl
geekgrrl's picture

Thanks Miffed. I checked out the Four Agreements and I'll have to get a copy. Looks like good stuff.

I have a suspicion that it's exactly these kind of accidental revelations that explain why some people can break free of their chains of thought, but my hope was maybe these revelations (epiphanies?) could be made more deliberately and accessibly to the general public. One of the things that helped me on my way was a very small pamphlet I found in Philly, called "The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself." (slightly different version here)

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:57 | 2906643 juangrande
juangrande's picture


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:34 | 2906247 Inthemix96
Inthemix96's picture

As much as enjoy the articles on ZH, by a mulitude of posters I really have to wonder what is the point.  Do any of these wordsmiths know how to do the most basic of jobs?  Are all these pontificators of the obvious capable of anything other than writing what we all know?

Lets see a you tube video of CHS or O'bama, or paulson, or bernank doing something USEFULL.  We can all talk and type, but lets get down to actual, real monetary value.  What are these folk worth in our collective circles eh?  Can any of these folk do something you would pay for, other than spout hot air either through their mouths, or through a keyboard?

The time for debate and talk, and typing is past.  The time for humanity as in all of us is now here.  We know what is wrong, we dont need no more expert analysis from anyone.  We know what needs to be done.

Isn't it about time we did it, instead of talking and typing about it?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:39 | 2906256 falak pema
falak pema's picture

you sound like a guy who wants a free massage on a "word" forum; sorry, we don't give that when we are at ZH.

Word massages yes! 

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:48 | 2906271 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

We are willing to pay the most to those who validate our existense.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:09 | 2906287 centerline
centerline's picture

It will end in time.  Sooner rather than later I think.  A world of idiots just selling shit to each other.  The careers that made great money (and still kicking) are in banking, finance, advertising, business management and sales (etc.).  None of which are truly productive.  Most of which are weak in STEM subjects at best.  Meanwhile, doctors are getting squeezed out of thier professions and dictated to insurance companies... architects and engineers have been turned into commodities and are dictated to by businessmen... manufacturing is now something done mostly by slave labor... etc.  And everyone bowing before the almighty immediate (this quarter) profit.

Not to say there is not good talent making stuff today... but most it is going towards useless shit that doesn't help mankind.  Feeding the machine for profit, not advancement.  Advancement being derived... contingent even... by not the driving force.

Some of it just flat-out wasted though.  Thinking of smart young folks writing algos for Wall Street for one.

Anyhow, on a different note, I always laugh at concept of women striving to afford a fancy purse.  Like a LV.  $1000+ for a purse?  Holy shit.  And to do what?  So that they can walk down the street in hopes of complete strangers thinking "wow, a LV purse... she must be somebody!...  lucky her!"  In our world today, women have simply been destroyed by advertising. So sad.  

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:05 | 2906578 RichardP
RichardP's picture

... women have simply been destroyed by advertising ...

When you are older, I think you will come to understand that advertising simply exploited an attribute of (many, but not all) women - it didn't create it.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 19:01 | 2906888 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

"women" are definitely a marketed concept. . . one can be female without much effort, but in order to be seen culturally as a successful woman, accessory consumption is required, including face paint, porcelain nails, hairdresser tresses, etc.

and yes, there is marketing aimed at men, but it's not as apparent (apparently, ha) - women are sold adornment(s) because the culture frames them as objects to adorn for attractiveness, they must compete for the monied partner.  men are sold higher value items like flashy cars, supposedly to attract the adorned woman, as witnessed by most advertising campaigns, and the inevitable flashy babe draped over the vehicles at car shows.

and lately the advertising of a particular type of younger male attractiveness is being marketed as desire-able, with all the resentment to be expected - what was once held up as default human is now much harder to get recognition for, similar hoops are necessary to navigate, competition culture.

the $1k branded purse is of course an extension of fashion factories, which are mostly gay designers acting out their Barbie doll fantasies, with subtle hatred of the women they dress, who are used as arm bling for the rich men those designers wish they had, heh. . .

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 15:51 | 2910470 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

the $1k branded purse is of course an extension of fashion factories, which are mostly gay designers acting out their Barbie doll fantasies, with subtle hatred of the women they dress, who are used as arm bling for the rich men those designers wish they had, heh. . .

Amazing insight. Truly...a pleasure to watch your mind in action.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 23:21 | 2907259 juangrande
juangrande's picture

A thousand dollar purse is cheaper than a $100,000 to 300,000 car!. Or a 10,000 suit! Fuck this we're better than they are shit! Another manifestation of what is THE PROBLEM.....

It's like the comment made by someone I know when the little girl got shot by the taliban. " How can any religion condone this behavior?" Either being ignorant of, or conveniently forgetting, the vast history of atrocities performed " in the name of God ", he differentiated his culture from theirs. Shit, Christianity has been condoning "righteous" violence since Jesus got up on the mount and told everyone to get over themselves!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:09 | 2906290 ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water. "

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:09 | 2906594 JuliaS
JuliaS's picture

Hey, most of us, wordsmiths, have day jobs (I hope the assumption's correct). Writing's what we do on the side to calm the nerves.

I'm a mathematician, physicist and an electrical engineer. I have been working in career related fields all my life. I must admit that most jobs were destructive to national wealth as oppose to constructive. It's hard, if not impossible, to find something that didn't contribute to the demise of this nation. Even paying taxes on income and purchases already amounts to sponsoring wars and feeding public sector parasites. Quit paying them - go to jail and burden even more taxpayers.

I've been figuring things out slowly, moving away from systemic dependence and fiat. It takes time and fighting the system, sadly, requires working for it at least part time.

God damnit!

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:17 | 2906671 Kayman
Kayman's picture

"Isn't it about time we did it, instead of talking and typing about it?"

Hey ! I'm with you. But would you mind typing excactly what "it" is ?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 17:53 | 2906900 JuliaS
JuliaS's picture

Greece is doing something about it. They're doing the wrong thing (demanding more free lunch) for the wrong reason (having had too much free lunch), but ironically, something right might actually come out of it. It'll force isolation - which the parasites don't yet realise, will teach them to be self reliant. It'll force foreign investments out, following Coca Cola's example. Safety nets will collapse... even more than they already did, and the currency will die, giving birth to something new.

So, all the right things will happen.

Here in the US the critical mass is nowhere at the level of Greece. If you oppose the establishment, you'll be singled out and dealt with. If you challenge the autority in a violent way, the best support you'll get out of your fellow men is a clip on youtube recorded with an iPhone 5.

We're not at the critical mass, so don't waste your effort. Instead make plans for when we are Greece - when our unemployment matches theirs along with budget deficits. Have a plan. Have connections with like-minded individuals. Have tools you think will be necessary. Have savings that you think will be valuable when SHTF.

 For now, sit back and relax. We're getting there, but we aren't there yet. We're talking - all of us here and that's an important part. We're organizing.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:35 | 2906250 Troy Ounce
Troy Ounce's picture



Charles Hugh Smith is my hero. Boy, the guy can write.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:37 | 2906251 Roark12
Roark12's picture

One thing with dealing with a Narcicist - it is a game you are forced to play that can't be won.   Now , look at the financial systems setup and run by the Narcicists - It is a Game we are forced to play and there is no winning

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:25 | 2906335 CH1
CH1's picture

It would seem that the problem is force itself.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 14:07 | 2906593 Sokhmate
Sokhmate's picture

Narcissist play Calvinball of the worst type. Can't win Calvinball.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:38 | 2906252 VonSalza
VonSalza's picture

looking fabulous in these endtimes

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:30 | 2906348 CH1
CH1's picture

That's some twisted shit.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:15 | 2906668 Manthong
Manthong's picture

“looking fabulous” 

..another win for the sexually obsessed manipulators that any resources at all would be put into that.

..another step forward on the road towards the homofication of the society.

..another nail in the coffin of the American Experiment.

It’s not entertainment or diversion.

The messages inculcate the youth.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:39 | 2906255 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

At least in my neck of the woods the only critical items for the young generation are tatoos and smart phones.  Everything else is non-essential.


Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:56 | 2906277 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

+ piercings and pills.  gotta get yo meds.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:00 | 2906281 toady
toady's picture

They will suddenly realize food and shelter are necessary when mommy's basement is no longer an option.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:41 | 2906257 toady
toady's picture

I believe the 'consumer' model is what's broken. When the model moved from 'citizen' to 'consumer' all responsibility was lost. The only concern of the 'consumer' is a ATM that spits out endless cash for endless ijunk. That ATM can be using their house as an ATM, a high paying job, multiple low paying jobs, it doesn't matter, as long as the electronics, trips to Hawaii, and beer keeps flowing.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the whole planet is bankrupt, financially and morally, and nobody cares.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:11 | 2906499 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

when .gov "services" refer to the "citizens" as "valued customers" - as they do now, on their phone lines, complete with advertising of .gov services while one sits in their phone queue - one understands the depth of the systemic takeover.

the incremental creep of state ownership has never been more apparent. . .

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:38 | 2906541 toady
toady's picture

Yep, I missed EBT, Obama phones, and .gov spitting on cash like ATM's. I suppose the 'consumers' who get their money this way still get ijunk & beer, but their Hawaii trip is more likely the gulf coast. (Their ATM doesn't spit out enough for plane tickets)

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 13:57 | 2906566 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

just a giant layer cake toady, everyone gets to participate, there's always some icing above, even when you're not the cherry-topped.

the branding of .gov services as "consumer driven" is the end game stuffs though, doling out plastic (bank issued!) cards to allocate benefits is so transparent that almost anyone can see the cattle prods in action. . . not to mention the training of all those .gov employees to think in terms of customers serviced. . . it would be laughable were it not so horrific to ponder.

it's almost like we live in a giant corporation. . . oh. . . wait. . .

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 15:24 | 2906679 Kayman
Kayman's picture

"and nobody cares."

Uh... excuse me mister (little boy tugs at strangers pantleg) ... I care.

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 18:10 | 2906933 toady
toady's picture

OK, that was a little vague. How about this;

Nobody that could do something about it cares.

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 10:43 | 2906262 Jason T
Jason T's picture

"We need a third way that offers people work, resilience and authentic meaning. ".

Move out to the country, cheap land, cheap houses, you can grow your own food (work) fix up old house (work) raise own livestock (work)  fix own tools (work)  make own furniture (work)

in essence, go galt.  While you still need income and there should always be jobs for something, the time spent not working for someone else can be spent working for self.

This is opposed to being poor and living in the city or a condo, or basement in the suburbs.. you can't grow a garden, raise livestock, make own furniture, fix own tools, etc.

.. get rid of the TV if you still have one and get to work 

Sat, 10/20/2012 - 11:38 | 2906362 Marley
Marley's picture

While the author advocates the need for a return to a "needs based" economy, sadly I don't know if we have a choice.  Individualism as an ideology basically thrieves on harvesting the efforts of other individuals for profit.  It is for that reason you will not find John in the corn field.

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