Economic Aspects of "Love"

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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 24, 2011 3:57 pm

Disney, Militarization and the National Security State After 9/11

Tuesday 23 August 2011
by: Henry A. Giroux and Grace Pollock, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. | Book Excerpt

Walt Disney’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee on October 24, 1947—in which he declared, "Everybody in my studio is one-hundred-percent American," while he also named a number of former employees who had organized a labor strike as "Communists"—signified the culmination of a long-standing relationship of collaboration between the Walt Disney Company and the American government.2 Disney told the committee that he felt the best strategy for safeguarding "all of the good, free causes in this country, all of the liberalisms that really are American" would be to uncover the "un-American" labor activists who had infiltrated the motion picture industry and had propagated their Communist "ideologies," which in turn were directly responsible for activities such as the 1941 strike at the Disney studio in Burbank, California.3 Meanwhile, other reasons cited for the strike, such as the company’s "arbitrary and manipulative pay structure" and the illegal firing of union activists working with the Screen Cartoonists’ Guild, were simply ignored.4 According to Walt Disney in 1941, individuals such as the labor organizers who had "called my plant a sweatshop" needed to be "smoked out and shown up for what they are" in order to "keep the American labor unions clean" and to preserve "good, solid Americans" from "the taint of communism."5 Disney’s justification of the state’s use of repressive force in order to secure American freedom may not sound quite so unfamiliar today, following the events of September 11, 2001. Since 9/11, several reports have emerged exposing a U.S. government that used illegal wiretapping with impunity, lied about the reasons for invading Iraq in 2003, sanctioned the torture of alleged terrorists, and imprisoned socalled enemy combatants—including children—denying them basic legal rights such as the right to a fair trial.6 Indeed, state repression and patriotic correctness at their most extreme became the normal state of affairs in a post-9/11 world characterized by domestic surveillance, the erosion of civil liberties, and an ideological and military campaign waged against the threat of "terrorism" that involved the construction of a vast secret and illegal apparatus of violence.

Despite the Disney corporation’s perennial claim that its products are simply about entertainment, Disney/ABC’s The Path to 9/11 (2006) and Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004) both attest to the company’s endorsement of, if not active participation in, partisan political issues, especially the "war on terror" and the emerging security culture in the United States. Disney’s history of making alliances with state power is not surprising, given its corporate interest in reaching large audiences and perpetuating dominant cultural forms, but not since its production of several films for the U.S. military during World War II has Disney participated in the dissemination of such overt political propaganda. While the Walt Disney Company’s patriotic fervor during World War II has generated little critical response over the years, Disney’s productions since 9/11 have been more controversial, yet few critics have gone so far as to argue that the messages produced by The Path to 9/11 and The Incredibles do not support the status quo as much as they present a reactionary politics, which not only justifies U.S. military power abroad but also suggests deeply authoritarian ideas and practices are the best way to secure the ongoing domination of American cultural identity at home. Both films solicit their viewers’ support and appear to occupy solid (and therefore unquestionable) moral ground by taking a critical stance that positions the lone protagonists outside repressive cultures dominated by mindless bureaucracies. The films ultimately sacrifice an understanding of the systemic causes of war and violence in favor of blaming individuals who exhibit pathological behaviors that go far beyond character flaws or mere cowardice. Of course, the demonization of the other and the representation of individuals who challenge institutional stagnancy as heroic are not new to those familiar with discourses of hyperindividualism, competitiveness, and jingoistic nationalism in the dominant media in the United States, but the justification of violence as the primary means to achieve these goals has not been asserted so boldly as before, except perhaps if one considers the history of Disney films.

At the onset of World War II, Walt Disney was not alone in his belief that film should play a dominant role in the teaching process or, as he claimed, in "molding opinion."7 He was, however, at the forefront of a movement to recognize a "new aspect of the use of films in war": training industrial workers and soldiers.8 Some historians try to account for Disney’s participation in generating military propaganda by claiming that the studios were "taken over by the military as part of the war effort"9 on December 8, 1941. But Richard Shale has meticulously documented Disney’s much earlier attempts to court contracts with the aircraft industry, the U.S. Council of National Defense, and Canadian military supporters.10 Indeed, despite a "popular (and frequently quoted) misconception" that the relationship between Disney Studios and the U.S. military was "unexpected or unsolicited," Shale observes an explicit shift in Disney’s focus from "entertainment values to teaching values" that occurred before Disney acquired his first U.S. military contracts in December 1941.11 For instance, in 1940 Disney approached the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation with the idea of generating a training film on flush riveting. And in the spring of 1941, with Canada already engaged in war, Disney convinced the commissioner of the National Film Board of Canada, John Grierson, that animated films were better positioned as teaching tools than documentary films because of their "capacity for simplifying the presentation of pedagogical problems."12 Grierson then bought the Canadian rights to Four Methods of Flush Riveting and commissioned Disney to produce an instructional film that taught soldiers how to use an antitank rifle and four short films that encouraged Canadians to purchase war savings certificates.

Then, in the fall of 1941, Walt Disney toured South America at the bequest of the U.S. Office of Inter-American affairs, which was attempting to establish good relations and "hemispheric unity as explicated in Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy."13 With material collected on the trip, Disney proceeded to generate two feature films, Saludos Amigos (1943) and The Three Caballeros (1945), both intended to celebrate Latin American culture while accentuating its similarities with North American culture (and downplaying or ignoring issues like national politics and poverty).14 Born out of U.S. fear of a Nazi alliance with countries like Argentina, the films aimed to "enhance the Latin American image in the United States," while also "enhanc[ing] America’s appreciation of Latin American Everymen."15 Yet, in making The Three Caballeros palatable to white Middle America and American imperialism less threatening to southerners, Disney more often than not caricatures Latin American culture as a voluptuous, exotic female who is fleeing the attentions of a libidinous, but comically ineffectual Donald Duck.16 There is little doubt that a relationship between Disney Studios and the U.S. government had been fully cemented by 1943, when 94 percent of the footage produced by Disney was under government contract.17

From 1941 to 1945, the Disney Studios produced dozens of short educational films, with their subjects ranging from aircraft and warship identification to dental hygiene to the household conservation of cooking oil for the making of military weapons. The studio also produced a number of anti-Nazi short films, including Der Fuehrer’s Face (1943), Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi (1943), and Reason and Emotion (1943), two of which were nominated for Academy Awards. In these shorts, Hitler is depicted as waging a mind-control campaign over the German people based on the manipulation of emotions such as anger, love, fear, sympathy, pride, and hate, while also occasionally employing force, regimentation, depravation, and false rewards. Of course, the success of the films’ efforts to expose Nazi propaganda overwhelmingly relies on the use of comic devices, caricatures, and stereotypes to make Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito seem irrational and absurd. Demonizing the enemy, according to Disney historian Leonard Maltin, "relieves aggression."18 This claim, suggesting that the films function to disperse rather than focus emotional energy, clearly sidesteps the multiple ways in which the films, much like the propaganda they critique, attempt to shape their audience’s emotional responses, such as when Donald Duck, clad in starred-and-striped pajamas, croons to the Statue of Liberty, "Oh, boy, am I glad to be a citizen of the United States of America!" Most significant about the techniques used by these Disney shorts is how they embody animation’s capacity to draw clear, simple lines and present a selective representation of an otherwise complex reality. Through the use of comedy and comedic violence, in particular, Disney films are often released from the expectation that they might be attempting to do more than entertain. Viewers wooed by animation’s unique capacity to create novel images through exaggeration, distortion, and aesthetic style are easily absorbed into an imaginary world that quite deliberately focuses their eyes on a constructed reality to the exclusion of other possibilities. The value of the anti-Nazi short films for today’s audiences lies in their obvious attempt to win the hearts and minds of American viewers through clever visual and ideological manipulation, while ironically issuing repeated warnings to viewers not to allow emotion to short-circuit their critical faculties. A historical perspective on the subject matter sets in relief how Disney’s critique of propaganda using the medium of animation inevitably ventures into the realm of propaganda itself.

During the war, a significant number of the studio’s resources were devoted to making another feature-length propaganda film, Victory through Air Power (1943). The film, based in part on a book written by Major Alexander P. De Seversky, advocates the development of airplane and weapons technology as the means to win the war against the Axis powers. We are told the airplane will not only "revolutionize warfare" but is "the only weapon of war to develop such usefulness during peacetime." Dramatic music punctuates scenes that explore new models of airplanes with increased bombing potential. The United States as the "arsenal of democracy" is represented as a giant heart comprising factories that pump "war supplies" through "the arteries of our transport lines over distances that actually girdle the globe." This organic, humanizing image of "the great industrial heart of America" contrasts with the mechanical image of a spoked wheel used to represent the Nazi war industries, which are also vividly portrayed in dark reds and blacks suggestive of a hellish inferno. Japan is represented as a deadly, black octopus extending its "greedy tentacles" over its "stolen empire." We are told of the necessity for U.S. long-range bombers to strike at "the heart and vitals of the beast." With the lethal combination of the "superior" American "science of aviation" and "science of demolition," the "enemy lies hopelessly exposed to systematic destruction." At the same time, the film announces that "scientific bombing" will enable a "minimum investment in human lives," an oddly ambiguous use of language suggestive of two possible meanings in the context in which it appears: the assertion that aerial bombing of enemy territories requires a "minimum investment" of American soldiers and, what is both more sinister and perhaps in need of such coded language, the claim that bombing the enemy entails such "total destruction" that no human lives requiring "investment" will be left in its wake. Indeed, the film’s climax consists of a montage of exploding bombs among Japanese cities and factories, which begin curiously unpopulated and end utterly annihilated. At the pinnacle of the climactic violence, the screen resolves into an image of a bald eagle descending upon and crushing the land-ridden octopus, which then dissolves into a dark cloud of smoke rising above Japan as "America the Beautiful" plays in the background.

Walt Disney believed that Victory through Air Power convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to support to long-range bombing.19 For a contemporary viewer who has the benefit of hindsight, the unquestioned propaganda offered by Victory through Air Power leaves one with the eerie feeling that the perspective being shaped by the film would not only fail to question the use of technology such as the atomic bomb but even wholeheartedly celebrate it as the quickest and most effective way to win the war. Indeed, it is precisely the film’s unflinching support of the development of bigger and better bombing technology, from small hand-dropped bombs to ten-ton delayed-action bombs and armor-piercing bomb rockets, that might seem most disturbing given the devastating effects of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the postwar escalation of arms development during the Cold War and the ongoing expansion of the military-industrial complex in the United States.20 But Walt Disney did not just support the development of larger weapons; he was a firm supporter of what might be called the atomic age and made the classic 1956 propaganda film Our Friend the Atom, which was also produced as a book and appeared as an atomic submarine ride in the Tomorrowland section of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. In this instance, as Mark Langer points out, Our Friend the Atom was designed to "counter opposition to the military use of atomic weaponry."21 The Magic Kingdom became an outpost for leading young people and adults to believe that an "Atomic reactor . . . is like a big furnace. An atomic chain reaction is likened to what happens when a stray ping-pong ball is thrown at a mass of mousetraps with ping-pong balls set on each one."22 Disney played a formidable role in convincing every school child that atomic energy was central not merely to winning the Cold War but also to preparing them for a future that would be dominated by the United States and its use of new energy sources, which incidentally could be instrumental in elevating the United States to the position of the world’s preeminent military power. Mouse power easily and readily made the shift to celebrating atomic power and militarism while enlarging Disney’s role as a major purveyor of propaganda.

The Disney films discussed above alert us to the fact that Disney animators honed their skills and gained widespread popular appeal in the 1940s by first producing propaganda films for the U.S. government. This often neglected reality underlying Disney’s origins as a cultural entertainment icon should make us all the more careful to heed Janet Wasko’s warning that Disney encodes preferred readings of both its animated films and its own brand image to such an extent that "one of the most amazing aspects of the Disney phenomenon is the consistently uniform understanding of the essence of ‘Disney.’"23

Attuned to Disney’s willingness to assume an overt pedagogical role during World War II, several critics of a more recent Disney film, Aladdin (1992), noted that the timing of the film’s production and release coincided with U.S. military efforts in the Persian Gulf war. According to Christiane Staninger, Aladdin is "a propaganda movie for Western imperialism" that "shows the supposed unworkability of Middle Eastern traditions and the need for American intervention."24 Dianne Sachko Macleod takes this critique a step further, suggesting a link between Disney’s "revival of British and French colonial stereotypes of Arab traders, fanatics, and beauties" and the "storehouse of racial and cultural images" used by the Pentagon to justify the war.25 Macleod notes that regardless of the filmmakers’ intentions, the film had the general effect of "privileging the American myths of freedom and innocence at a time of nationalist fervor."26 Other connections between the film and the first Iraq war are not especially subtle: in addition to locating Aladdin in the fictional city of "Agrabah," it makes the villainous Grand Vizier Jafar look like a combination of Saddam Hussein and the Ayatollah Khomeini, while the two young heroes, Aladdin and Jasmine, not only look American—Disney animators made it publicly known that Aladdin was modeled after Tom Cruise27—but also, as Brenda Ayres suggests, display their heroism by "contesting (and changing) Arabian law and Islamic religious tradition."28 While it is impossible to discern the actual motives of the Disney animators, it is equally impossible to ignore the cultural context in which the American public viewed Aladdin. At the time of the film’s release, the dominant media were aggressively promoting similar images of liberation from barbaric traditions in order to justify the United States’ "right to intervene in Middle Eastern politics."

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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:46 pm

Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord

The Society of the Spectacle is one of the key theoretical works representing a body of work by a group of revolutionary artists called the Situationists.

The Situationists are most famous for their role in precipitating the nation-wide French strike (which may have ended in a bloodless revolution had it not been for police intervention).

Debord was one of the ideological leaders of the Situationists. In The Society of the Spectacle he addresses the capitalist fetish for quantification and commoditization, this fetish leads to the creation of a representative mockery of the world, which he calls “the spectacle”. As people are sold this parody in place of reality they are further estranged from the world.

As people accept what has been sold to them as their own, Debord goes on to say, they ostracize their own desires, and, through the capitalist economic ‘war of each against all’ they are further alienated from each other. And so they die, alone, with a huge pile of tackily packaged goods.


In the decor of the spectacle, the eye meets only things and their prices.

Commute, work, commute, sleep . . .

Meanwhile everyone wants to breathe and nobody can and many say, “We will breathe later.”
And most of them don’t die because they are already dead.

Boredom is counterrevolutionary.

We don’t want a world where the guarantee of not dying
of starvation brings the risk of dying of boredom.

We want to live.

Don’t beg for the right to live — take it.

In a society that has abolished every kind of adventure
the only adventure that remains is to abolish the society.

The liberation of humanity is all or nothing.

Those who make revolutions half way only dig their own graves.

No replastering, the structure is rotten.

Masochism today takes the form of reformism.

Reform my ass.

The revolution is incredible because it’s really happening.

I came, I saw, I was won over.

Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!


If we only have enough time . . .

In any case, no regrets!

Already ten days of happiness.

Live in the moment.

Comrades, if everyone did like us . . .

We will ask nothing. We will demand nothing. We will take, occupy.

Down with the state.

When the National Assembly becomes a bourgeois theater,
all the bourgeois theaters should be turned into national assemblies.
[Written above the entrance of the occupied Odéon Theater]

Referendum: whether we vote yes or no, it turns us into suckers.

It’s painful to submit to our bosses; it’s even more stupid to choose them.

Let’s not change bosses, let’s change life.

Don’t liberate me — I’ll take care of that.

I’m not a servant of the people (much less of their self-appointed leaders).
Let the people serve themselves.

Abolish class society.

Nature created neither servants nor masters. I want neither to rule nor to be ruled.

We will have good masters as soon as everyone is their own.

“In revolution there are two types of people:
those who make it and those who profit from it.”

Warning: ambitious careerists may now be disguised as “progressives.”

Don’t be taken in by the politicos and their filthy demagogy. We must rely on ourselves.
Socialism without freedom is a barracks.

All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

We want structures that serve people, not people serving structures.

The revolution doesn’t belong to the committees, it’s yours.

Politics is in the streets.

Barricades close the streets but open the way.

Our hope can come only from the hopeless.

A proletarian is someone who has no power over his life and knows it.

Never work.

People who work get bored when they don’t work.
People who don’t work never get bored.

Workers of all countries, enjoy!

Since 1936 I have fought for wage increases.
My father before me fought for wage increases.
Now I have a TV, a fridge, a Volkswagen.
Yet my whole life has been a drag.
Don’t negotiate with the bosses. Abolish them.

The boss needs you, you don’t need the boss.

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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:32 am

SF mockumentary: ‘Ghosts With Shit Jobs’ — China looks at westerners with awful jobs

Jim Munroe sez, "In the future, jobs still suck -- but in whole new ways. The economic collapse of the west is complete and North Americans are a cheap labour pool for wealthy Asian and Indian markets. A Chinese documentary show focuses on these unlucky enough to have been born in the slums of Toronto in a special report that translates as 'Ghosts With Shit Jobs'. The lo-fi sci-fi mockumentary feature offers both a commentary on the economic downturn and a model for surviving in it -- it was made for $4000."

Ghosts With Shit Jobs
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:59 am

America As a Prison Society

According to the Justice Department, 7 million people--or one in every 32 adults--are either incarcerated, on parole or probation or under some other form of state or local supervision. One out of every 100 Americans is now in prison!

In 1970 Congress created the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse to carry out a study and then propose a new drug law. Its official report favored discouraging the use of marijuana, but recommended de-criminalizing it. The recommendation was denounced in 1973 by President Nixon who proclaimed a national War on Drugs. Congress passed legislation giving the same severe jail time for the milder cannabis as for the sale or possession of cocaine and heroin. This remains the foundation of current drug law.

Thirty-seven million, or one out of every six Americans, regularly use emotion controlling medical drugs. The users are mostly women. The pushers are doctors; the suppliers are pharmaceutical companies; the profits are stupendous. In the U.S. as of 2003 there were more than 125,000 alcohol-related deaths a year, 473,000 die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses--53,000 of these are nonsmokers--while not a single one of the 31,450,000 marijuana users dies because of their use of this benign plant.

According to the prestigious European medical journal, The Lancet, "The smoking of cannabis, even long-term, is not harmful to health. ... It would be reasonable to judge cannabis as less of a threat ... than alcohol or tobacco."

The focus of the drug war in the United States has shifted significantly over the past two decades from hard drugs to marijuana, which now accounts for nearly half of all drug arrests nationwide, according to an analysis of federal crime statistics released in 2005.

A study of FBI data by a Washington-based think tank, the Sentencing Project, found that the proportion of heroin and cocaine cases plummeted from 55 percent of all drug arrests in 1992 to less than 30 percent 10 years later. During the same period, marijuana arrests rose from 28 percent of the total to 45 percent. Today in fifteen states, for a nonviolent marijuana-related offense, you could be sentenced to life in prison without parole, while the national average sentence for murder is six to eight years.

Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers an estimated $10 billion annually and results in the arrest of more than 829,000 individuals per year--far more than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent, 738,915 Americans were charged with possession only. The remaining 90,710 individuals were charged with "sale/manufacture," a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use. In past years, roughly 30 percent of those arrested were age 19 or younger. More of our population is now behind bars for marijuana offenses than in any other time in our history.

The US Sentencing Commission reports that only 5.5% of all federal crack cocaine defendants and 11% of all federal drug defendants are "high-level" dealers. The rest are low-level operatives and those caught "possessing." In most cases they're from society's least advantaged and poor, and most of them are black. These convenient targets create a ready supply of bodies to fill prison cells as part of the plan to remove the unwanted from the streets and create a profitable new growth industry at the same time.

Private Prison Profits

Revenues in the private prison corporations passed the $1 billion mark in 1998 and is now closing in on $2 billion. Two companies dominate the privatized incarceration industry--Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections. These two companies control 75 percent of the for-profit incarceration market--and make huge donations to Cabal lackeys.

Private prison companies remain profitable by supporting political accomplices and supporting strict sentencing laws and tough-on-crime legislation. To maintain profits, corporate-owned prisons need a steady flow of inmates. Mandatory minimum sentences, life terms for "three strikes," and sentencing juveniles as adults results in growing prison populations and obscene profits.

In 1987, the states collectively spent $10.6 billion of their general funds--their primary pool of discretionary tax dollars--on corrections. In 2007, the states spent more than $44 billion, a 315 percent jump, data from the National Association of State Budget Officers show. Adjusted to 2007 dollars, the increase was 127 percent. Over the same period, adjusted spending on higher education rose just 21 percent.

At the start of 2008, the American penal system held more than 2.3 million adults. China (with 4 times the population of the U.S.) was second, with 1.5 million people behind bars, and Russia was a distant third with 890,000 inmates, according to the latest available figures. Beyond the sheer number of inmates, America also is the global leader in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations like South Africa and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the U.S, the rate is roughly eight times that, or 750 per 100,000.

Obama and other cabal puppets push for increased illegal immigrant invasion of the U.S. and repressive laws in such states as Arizona, Utah, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Iowa, and Georgia result in immigrants landing in privatized prisons.

A consortium composed of Corrections Corporation of America, the Geo Group, and the Management Training Corporation own over 200 prisons and make a profit of close to $5 billion per year.

"'The drug war has become the major vehicle of militarization in Latin America. It's a vehicle funded and driven by the U.S. government and fueled by a combination of false morals, hypocrisy and a lot of cold, hard fear. The so called 'war on drugs' is really a war on people, especially youth, women, indigenous peoples and dissidents. The drug war has become the main way for the Pentagon to occupy and control countries at the expense of whole societies and many, many lives."

--Mike Whitney

Historical Perspectives on Prisons, Slavery, and Imperialism

It is important to recall that many of the first settlers of the "New World" were actually British, Scottish, Irish, French, German, and Dutch convicts sold into indentured servitude. Selling "criminals" to the companies exploring the Americas lowered the cost of maintaining European prisons (since they could remain relatively small), enabled the traditional elite to rid themselves of potential political radicals, and provided the cheap labor necessary for the first wave of colonization. Indeed, as detailed in both Peter Linebaugh's The London Hanged and A. R. Ekirch's Bound for America, there is a strong historical relationship between the need for policing the unruly working classes, fueling the military and economic needs of the capitalist class, and greasing the wheels of imperialism with both indentured servants and outright slavery.

An early US example of this three-pronged relationship occurred in Frankfurt, Kentucky in 1825. Joel Scott paid $1,000 for control of Kentucky's prison labor to build roads and canals facilitating settler traffic westward into Indian lands. After winning this contract, Scott built his own private 250-cell prison to house his new "workers." In a similar deal in 1844, Louisiana began leasing the labor of the prisoners in its Baton Rouge State Penitentiary to private contractors for $50,000 a year. California's San Quentin prison illustrates this same historical link between prison labor and capitalism. In 1852, J.M. Estill and M.G. Vallejo swapped land that was to become the site of the state capital for the management of California's prison laborers. These three antebellum examples are not typical of pre-Civil War labor arrangements, however. The institution of slavery in the South and the unprecedented migration of poor Europeans to America in the North provided the capitalist elite with ample labor at rock bottom prices. This left prison labor as a risky resource exploited by only the most adventurous capitalists.

Prison labor became a more significant part of modern capitalism during Reconstruction because the Civil War made immigration to America dangerous, left the U.S. economically devastated, and deprived capitalism of its lucrative slave labor. One of the responses to these crises was to build more prisons and then to lease the labor of prisoners, many of whom were ex-slaves, to labor-hungry capitalists.

Burdened with heavy taxes to meet the expenses of rebuilding the shattered economy, and committed to the traditional notion that convicts should, by their labor, reimburse the government for their maintenance and even create additional revenue, the master class, drawing on its past experience with penitentiary leases, reintroduced a system of penal servitude which would make public slaves of blacks and poor and friendless whites.
-- J.T. Sellin

Slavery and the Penal System

The conditions of such leased prison labor -- much like the conditions of both plantation slave labor and Northern factory work before the War -- were atrocious. For example, D.A. Novak reveals in The Wheel of' Servitude: Black Forced Labor After Slavery that the death rate of prisoners leased to railroad companies between 1877 and 1879 was 45% in South Carolina, 25% in Arkansas, and 16% in Mississippi. Conditions in the labor camps of the Texas State Penitentiary in Galveston were so bad that 62 prisoners died in 1871 alone. Thus, prisons have been linked historically to forced labor, inhumane working conditions, reproduction of slavery-like conditions, and the imperial needs of a rising capitalist elite. Given this perspective, the trend of privatizing both prisons and prison labor may be seen not so much as a recent reaction of the "lock `em up" generation, but rather -- as suggested earlier by Shaka -- as one of the fundamental historical links between prison, slavery, and capitalism.

From: Prison Labor, Slavery & Capitalism In Historical Perspective, by Stephen Hartnett

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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:59 pm


Portraits in Carnage: The End of the Rock Festivals

Five months after the drowning death of Brian Jones, a music festival held near San Francisco turned murderous, smothering Aquarius and its political anthems with a handful of apocalyptic screen images, "restless youth" seemingly devouring itself. The Rolling Stones were the centerpiece of the hellish fiasco at Altamont on December 6, 1969. The band would forevermore be tainted by the surreal violence of Gimme Shelter, the documentary film that chronicled the disaster, and so would the counterculture the Stones had done much to inspire.

The festival was conceived in the first place to redeem the group's flagging image. The press had laid into Jagger and crew, emphasizing their greed, "The stories of the Stones' avarice spread," journalist Robert Sam Anson reported, and critics pointed to Mick's $250,000 townhouse, the collection of glittering Rolls Royces, "and [they] wondered how revolutionary 'a man of wealth and taste' could be. A token free appearance would still those critics. The concert, problems and all, was going to happen, For the Stones' sake, it had to."

The group's management set out to select a site for the event. They consulted Jan Wenner, the editor of Rolling Stone, who sent them to several professional concert promoters, and they in turn put them in touch with famed San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli, fixture of California's well-heeled "conservative" power base.

This was the first Big Mistake. Belli was summed up at his funeral in July, 1996 by Bishop William Swing, in a eulogy stitched with irony in the context of Operation CHAOS, at Grace Cathedral. Over the infamous attorney's pale cadaver, the Bishop bid farewell to Belli.

A man of law against the chaos of life,
A man of chaos against the laws of life. [1]

A cartoon that appeared after Belli's death in the San Diego Union Tribune was an eloquent expression of his ethical standards. It depicted St Peter on the telephone, reporting, "I've got a guy here claiming he was struck and injured by one of the Pearly Gates," and there, smiling like an angel, stood a well-groomed soul identified by the nametag on his briefcase "M. Belli." [2] The San Francisco Chronicle bid him farewell with a letter to the editor that appeared on the Op- Ed page. "Melvin Belli helped establish the principles of the plaintiff attorney: avarice, immunity to logic, self- aggrandizement and perfect contempt for the interests of society." [3]

He was not only an ambulance chaser par excellence. The legendary Melvin Belli was one of the CIA's most trusted courtroom wonders until hypertension and cardiovascular disease claimed him on July 9, 1996. His client roster included Jack Ruby, Sirhan Sirhan, Martha Mitchell and Jim Bakker. His first high-profile client was Errol Flynn, who, according to thousands of FBI and military intelligence documents released under FOIA to biographer Charles Higham, was an avid admirer of Adolf Hitler, recruited by Dr. Hermann Friedrich Erben, an Abwher intelligence agent, to spy on the United States. The FBI, Higham discovered in the midst of poring through the many boxes of FOIA documents dropped on his doorstep, pestered Flynn and the studio employing him over his wartime association with a Nazi, "but there was little doubt that Will Hays and Colonel William Guthrie, a high-ranking Army officer on the studio payroll as Jack Warner's troubleshoot in all matters connected with politics, were responsible for the cover-up. Hays and Guthrie managed to smother the numerous inquiries that began seriously to threaten Errol's career." [4] Melvin Belli, Flynn's attorney, could also be counted on to button his lip, and he did repeatedly as a CIA-Mafia legal counsel in a number of assassination cover-ups. [5]

It was Melvin Belli who chose the speedway at Altamont for the festival. "As a staging ground for a rock concert," Anson concluded, "especially one expected to draw 300,000 people or more. Altamont could hardly have been worse. The raceway, which was on the brink of bankruptcy, was small, cramped, and difficult to reach. Its acres were littered with the rusting hulks of junked automobiles and thousands of shards of broken glass. In appearance, it had all the charm =of a graveyard. Worst of all, though, the deal for its use had not been sealed until the final moment. Whereas Woodstock had taken months to prepare, Altamont had to be ready within twenty-four hours." [6]

The second Big Mistake of Altamont was the hiring of Ralph "Sonny" Barger and a contingent of Hell's Angels to keep the peace.

Barger, it has since been divulged, was an informant and hit man on the payroll of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). When Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver fled the country for Algeria, the ATF negotiated with Barger to "bring Cleaver home in a box." He often made deals with law enforcement in exchange for dismissal of charges against fellow Angels. Barger was even hired by federal agents to kill immigrant farm labor activist Cesar Chavez, and may well have if Barger hadn't first been arrested by police in the Bay area on a prior homicide charge. [7]

The accusation arose in the death of Servio Winston Agero, a drug dealer. In a surprise courtroom maneuver, Sonny took the witness stand and confessed to his arrangement with local police and federal agents. Over a period of several years, he testified, he had brokered deals with Oakland authorities to give up the location of hidden caches of automatic weapons, mortars and dynamite in exchange for the dismissal of all charges against members of his motorcycle gang. This was a deal he had brokered with Edward Hilliard, then a sergeant at the Oakland Police Department's vice squad. Hilliard refused to comment when questioned by reporters. The defendant admitted for the record that he sold narcotics for a living, forged IDs, and slept with a pistol under his pillow. On seven occasions, though, Barger refused to respond to questioning and was fined $3,500 by Judge William J. Hayes for each demurral.

Deputy prosecutor Donald Whyte asked the "spiritual" leader of the Hell's Angels, an admitted federal operative, to name officers who asked him to "kill someone." Barger squirmed and claimed that he could not recall, exactly, but attempted several phonetic variations of a possible name. [8] Even in the courtroom, it seems, he was not about to risk retaliation by government contacts.

But the deal was exposed anyway by ATF whistle-blower Larry Shears. The agent told his story to narcotics agents, and they gathered evidence on the murder plan before talking to the press. Shears announced that Barger had been contracted to kill Chavez, an assassination ordered by agribusiness magnates in the San Joaquin Valley. Chavez was only alive, Shears reported, because there had been delays. The first came when ATF agents insisted that certain files first be stolen from the farm union. The arson of union offices was attempted by hired hands, another delay. Confirmation of these allegations came three weeks later when union officials complained to reporters that there had been recent "arson attempts against [farm] union offices. Others have been riddled with bullet holes, and on at least two occasions attempts were made to steal records in the union offices."

Continues at:
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
-Malcolm X
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:45 pm

Frantz Fanon > Quotes


"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are
presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new
evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is
extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it
is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize,
ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief."

— Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks)

"[T]he unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps."
— Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth)

"Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well."
— Frantz Fanon

"Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe. It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions"
— Frantz Fanon

"Today I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions."
— Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks)

Excerpted from: ... antz_Fanon
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:55 pm ... ean-spade/
For Lovers And Fighters (Or, Wherein I Fangirl Dean Spade)

by SARAH on 8.18.2011

Capitalism is fundamentally invested in notions of scarcity, encouraging people to feel that we never have enough so that we will act out of greed and hording and focus on accumulation. Indeed, the romance myth is focused on scarcity: There is only one person out there for you!!! You need to find someone to marry before you get too old!!!! The sexual exclusivity rule is focused on scarcity, too: Each person only has a certain amount of attention or attraction or love or interest, and if any of it goes to someone besides their partner their partner must lose out. We don’t generally apply this rule to other relationships—we don’t assume that having two kids means loving the first one less or not at all, or having more than one friend means being a bad or fake or less interested friend to our other friends. We apply this particular understanding of scarcity to romance and love, and most of us internalize that feeling of scarcity pretty deeply.

So Dean Spade is brilliant. This is a fact. But reading this (in an essay that I swear I’ve read before but maybe glossed over this part?) this morning really brought me up short.

Cause I mean, I’ve been thinking about capitalism a lot lately, as it seems to be malfunctioning pretty badly these days (understatement of…my life?). And when I’m not thinking about that (work), I’m a human and a single one in my early 30s with friends, so I am talking about love and relationships with friends. My own, theirs, other people’s, the ideal relationship…

But I never really thought about the idea of scarcity as applied to love. Or maybe I did, but not in quite the sort of click moment I had this morning.

I’ve been talking friends through the kinds of breakups I’ve had too many of, this month. The kind where you think everything is going great and then suddenly poof, freakout!

The kind that leave you going “What did I do? Am I just unloveable? What’s wrong with me?” because they didn’t stick around long enough for you to hate them, or even see their bad sides really. The kind that really throw you for a loop.

And after those breakups especially I see people in a tailspin, terrified that they’ll be alone.

I sent this quote to a friend this morning and she replied “YES!” and then “THEFT. I felt robbed,” by the breakup, by the time spent with that person that turned out not to be “worth it,” a “good investment” (my words, not hers). Financial terms applied to our love lives. What?

Think about how many times you’ve described a potential lover with words like that.

I think this in some way overlaps with my distaste for Internet dating. It’s applying capitalist models to love and romance, “shopping” for a partner. And then I watch relationships (including my own) devolve into inner competition, each person wanting a particular end and negotiating to make that end come about.

I’ve been single more or less for four years, since 2007 when my ex-fiance and I split up. In that relationship we were both waiting for the other to change, and when I finally extracted myself from it I felt robbed of my time, my “investments.” Yet I also still deeply cared for that person and put myself through emotional hell trying, for a while, to still be his friend.

Since then I’ve had flings and one-night stands and lovers. But nothing that really counted as a “relationship.” I’ve slept with close friends and gone on being friends. I’ve fallen in love.

And later in this piece, Spade goes on to say:

One of my goals in thinking about redefining the way we view relationships is to try to treat the people I date more like I treat my friends—try to be respectful and thoughtful and have boundaries and reasonable expectations—and to try to treat my friends more like my dates—to give them special attention, honor my commitments to them, be consistent, and invest deeply in our futures together. In the queer communities I’m in valuing friendship is a really big deal, often coming out of the fact that lots of us don’t have family support, and build deep supportive structures with other queers.

I think this is deeply important to me (and this part of the essay I DO remember having read before) since my breakup. bell hooks wrote of something similar as well, of deciding to forego one solitary “partner” in favor of many different types of love around her.

I’m almost exclusively heterosexual, but my community nevertheless supports me in my social justice work in a way that my family doesn’t. My friends are my family, and I love each of them slightly differently, and they fill in almost all the holes in my life. I can allow those friendships to change and grow, and not hold potential lovers to specific rules (most of the time. I was weirded out at first when a short-term fling kept contacting me–and then realized that it was silly to be put off by someone saying, in essence “Hey, you’re a cool person and just cause we’re not gonna be a couple doesn’t mean we can’t talk on occasion or even flirt on occasion.”)

Yet I still want what Spade calls “the romance myth.”

I don’t know if I could successfully be polyamorous. When I fall for someone, I tend to fall hard, obsessively, and in most of my past relationships, when I felt a powerful attraction to someone else, it was because my relationship was falling apart.

I don’t have the answers, except to say that maybe there aren’t any, just ways to think about how we can treat other people better, with more love.

That’s the goal of my politics, and it’s the goal of my relationships too, I suppose. I fail at both sometimes, but this essay was a nice reminder to keep trying, keep thinking, keep working.

Keep fighting.
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:46 pm

London Review of Books

Vol. 28 No. 19 · 5 October 2006
pages 38-39 |

Michael Taussig

‘All that is left of a person is their name,’ Olivia Mostacilla told me during my month in Colombia, the first time I’d been back in two years. She wasn’t referring to the paramilitary massacres, which have stopped in the past few months because of the on-going ‘demobilisation’ of the paras organised by President Uribe’s government, but to the craze for plastic surgery, especially the variety known as lipo-escultura or ‘fat sculpture’.

Actually, it’s called aesthetic surgery, not plastic, and it’s ‘the fastest growing industry in Colombia’, she assured me, especially in Cali and Medellín. Even though there is a desperate need for health services, not least to deal with sexually transmitted illness among the young and poor, there is no shortage of breast implants, liposuction and hymen restoration costing upwards of US $400, in a society where the basic wage is around $160 a month. Of course, as with back-alley abortions, there are aesthetic surgeons who work for as little as $100 a treatment – as described in Gustavo Bolívar Moreno’s novel Sin tetas no hay paraíso (Without Tits, No Paradise). Dedicated to his mother, and now in its sixth edition, it has recently been adapted as a telenovela. Meanwhile, Uribe’s Bush-friendly government, enamoured of free-market economics, shreds the health service. ‘The Ministry of Health basically does not exist,’ a British journalist long resident in Colombia tells me as he pulls a long revolver from his coat before examining a young girl in the clinic for street children he helped set up in the slums of a major city. Why the gun? The police have a contract out on him for daring to denounce police killing of children on the streets.

‘Any defect can be eliminated,’ Olivia said. ‘Any defect whatsoever.’ She wasn’t referring to the limpieza five years ago in this town outside Cali, limpieza as in ‘cleaning’: cleansing a house of witchcraft or bad spirits; or the cleaning up of a town, by assassinating petty thieves, crack addicts and homicidal youth gangs.

Yet it was hard to resist making these connections between beauty and death, as Olivia and her neighbour went on to detail the dangers of aesthetic surgery. Olivia’s niece, a nurse in a clinic in Cali, had recently had her nose altered by a doctor there. Like many Afro-Colombian women she disliked her nariz chata, as it’s called. ‘A few days before he went on holiday the doctor accosted her, saying: “Oh! I have to fix your nose quickly before I leave!” But the operation went badly. Months later she went to another surgeon for a second operation. Now she breathes like a cat. You know how a cat breathes? You can hear her breathing several feet away.’

A friend of this niece had her breasts enlarged, but infection set in and she had to have a double mastectomy. Other women have had their eyes enlarged and now can’t close them. ‘Imagine!’ a neighbour chimed in. ‘Imagine trying to sleep!’ Fathers give liposuction as a present to their daughters on their 15th birthday. Both women and men return for multiple liposuctions. Diego Maradona came to Colombia to have eight stone removed. ‘People fly in from the USA, and Colombia now leads Brazil in this field,’ Olivia told me as she prepared lunch in her stifling concrete brick house at the end of the town, while I watched an advertisement for a ‘vibrating corset’ designed to eliminate fat through electronic massage. ‘People have died,’ she said. ‘From perforated intestines.’

Yet the demand is insatiable. ‘Beauty opens doors.’ The women in Congress, including the president of the Senate and the new minister of foreign affairs, are stunningly beautiful. And when the wonderfully progressive mayor of Medellín replaced the annual beauty queen contest with one for women of talent, they too were all stunning. One can only imagine what it takes to be a humble secretary, let alone the courtesan of a narco. ‘It was like . . . like heaven’s gate!’ a burly young American alone in first class was telling the male steward as I flew out of Bogotá. He could well have been a US helicopter pilot or one of the 500 military advisers in this country where the US is reported to have more than 2500 personnel.

‘We stayed in the north . . . can’t remember the name. And the girls!’

‘Like they popped out of a magazine,’ the steward responded.

‘Pipin’ hot.’

‘Even if you end up with the worst, she’s amazing!’
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:15 am ... -image.ars

Fanbois treat criticism of favorite brands as threat to self-image

By Jacqui Cheng


Have you ever found yourself frothing at the fingertips while explaining why someone doesn't deserve to use an iPhone because of their deeply flawed sense of aesthetics? Have you been the type to declare that those who don't use Android are cylons who are under mind control from Cupertino? Or are you Peter Bright, turning up your nose at all of us while you wax on about the unappreciated genius of the Windows 7 Phone?

You may think you're defending your favorite platform because it's just that good. But, according to a recently published study out of the University of Illinois, you may instead be defending yourself because you view criticisms of your favorite brand as a threat to your self image. The study, which will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology, examines the strength of consumer-brand relationships, concluding that those who have more knowledge of and experience with a brand are more personally impacted by incidents of brand "failure."

The researchers performed two experiments, one on a group of 30 women and another on 170 undergraduate students, in order to see whether the subjects' self esteem was tied to the general ratings of various brands. Those who had high self-brand connections (SBC)—that is, those who follow, research, or simply like a certain brand—were the ones whose self esteem suffered the most when their brands didn't do well or were criticized. Those with low SBC remained virtually unaffected on a personal level.

The residual effect of this is that those with high SBCs tend to discount negative news about their favorite brands, and sometimes even ignore it altogether in favor of happier thoughts.

"Consumers are highly resistant to brand failure to the point that they’re willing to rewrite history," business administration professor and researcher Tiffany Barnett White said in a statement. "It not only explains why so many Toyota customers ignored the negative brand information in the aftermath of the highly publicized recalls, it also accounts for why they’re quick to defend the company and why they would want to re-write history in a more positive way."

The paper notes that its conclusions challenge some assumptions from previous literature on brand connections. It had been assumed that brands are treated more like an interpersonal relationship and that brand loyalty is indicative of relationship strength. Instead, the Illinois researchers believe people treat brands as they treat themselves, leading users to feel more affected by brand failure instead of less.

"Because the brand is seen as a part of the self by virtue of being intimately tied to the self, failure on the part of the brand is experienced as a personal failure," reads the paper. "Therefore, in an effort to maintain a positive self-view, high SBC individuals react defensively to brand failure by evaluating the brand favorably despite its poor performance.

Has anyone else already begun to sift through the comments of our platform-specific articles to see who's feeling bad about themselves lately and who's not?

Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcps.2011.05.005 (About DOIs).
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:49 am

Image ... clecontent
Brand identity: It’s all in your head

From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jun. 24, 2010

Derek Smythe sat in an uptown Toronto bar the other evening, ordered a Dos Equis beer, chugged it down, then declared himself disappointed. The quaff quenched his thirst just fine. But, contrary to the beer’s popular series of ads featuring a sophisticated adventurer and ladies man depicted as “the world’s most interesting man,” Mr. Smythe said he didn’t feel altered by the experience. “I felt just as uninteresting as I was before,” he explained.

If new research published this week is correct, though, the fault may not lie with the beer but rather with Mr. Smythe (whose real identity, in the interest of protecting the innocent and uninteresting, we have masked).

In “Got to Get You into My Life: Do Brand Personalities Rub Off on Consumers?”, a pair of University of Minnesota researchers present compelling evidence that some people are predisposed to take on characteristics embodied by brands, while others are harder nuts to crack. Which goes some distance in explaining why you may have genuinely felt more like a rebel after buying a Harley-Davidson motorcycle – or not.

“There’s a tradition in consumer research that identifies the fact that people use brands as signals of who they are,” notes Deborah Roedder John, the chair of the marketing department at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and a co-author of the paper. (Her co-author Ji Kyung Park is a doctoral candidate.) “In looking at that body of literature one thing that fascinated us was no one had actually done strong experimental work to figure out whether or not, after people use these brands, are they really successful in feeling better about themselves.”

For the first of four studies described in the Journal of Consumer Research paper, women were given a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag to use while visiting a suburban Minneapolis shopping mall. After an hour, the women perceived themselves to be more glamorous, more feminine, and more good-looking (the three most salient characteristics that make up the brand’s “personality”) than those who had used a plain pink shopping bag.

In the second study, MBA students at the University of Minnesota used pens branded with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology logo. At the end of a six-week period, they felt they were more intelligent, harder-working, and possessed more leadership qualities than those who had used a common ballpoint.

The brands’ personalities, in other words, rubbed off on the subjects.

“I think we’ve always known, even without much research, that people are drawn to particular brand images, and they can use the brand image to signal things about themselves,” noted Ann McGill, a JCR editor who did not directly work on the paper. “But that’s always had a ‘look-at-me’ feel to it. This one is more internalized and I think that’s what makes it interesting. They actually seem to believe they become like the brand image.

“The old idea was that the macho guy looks over the marketplace and says, Oh, I want a Dodge Ram,” she continued. “But now this is sort of saying, You drive a Dodge Ram and you might start becoming kind of macho.” Over the phone, she laughed at what she’d just said. “That’s interesting. I mean, you always try to be careful about the company you keep, but I thought that meant people.”

But there’s a twist: this brand magic only works on those people who psychologists consider to be “entity theorists.”

To go further, we first need to take a small step sideways and wrap our minds around some other research. According to the University of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, people think of themselves in one of two contrasting ways. So-called entity theorists believe personal qualities are fixed and cannot be changed through direct effort to improve, learn, or grow. As a result, they look for opportunities to signal their positive qualities to both themselves and others. This might mean taking a college course that has a reputation for being easy, in order to be assured a high grade. (Or carrying a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag around a mall.)

“They sort of believe they can’t do it on their own,” elaborates Prof. John. “They have to have something to help them signal that they’re a better person. And that something could be many things. But brands, as we know from consumer research, happen to be one of those things.”

So-called incremental theorists, on the other hand, believe they can enhance themselves only through learning and hard work. They’re more likely to seek out challenges that carry the risk of failure – like taking a tough college course that rewards study and application. Signalling their positive qualities to others or themselves by, say, carrying a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag, or driving a Porsche, has little or no effect on their sense of self.

Some of this, of course, is not new.

“I think there’s already a belief among marketers and advertisers that brands have this type of power, and that consumers respond positively to that,” says Prof. John. “I think maybe what they don’t understand quite yet is that there may be only a certain percentage of the population that that’s really an accurate description of. But there are other people – although they like these brands and they pick them and they use them – it doesn’t quite have that power over them.”

But what extraordinary power it is, at least for entity theorists: Prof. John’s research suggests that brands might actually play a therapeutic role in people’s lives. In the fourth study described in the CJR paper (which will be published in print form some time early in 2011), undergraduate students were given a math quiz. Regardless of their actual answers, each was told they had performed poorly. But entity theorists who were given an MIT-branded pen to use for 10 minutes fully recovered from the psychological slight, while others did not.

“It totally overcame the negative feedback,” says Prof. John.

“That was really interesting, because sometimes people have a perception of marketing and brands as being ‘the evil marketers,’ figuring out ways to sort of subconsciously make people do things that are maybe bad for them, or make people buy things they shouldn’t be buying,” she adds. “But what we found interesting from that study was, brands really allowed people to feel more positive about themselves. It was sort of an empowering thing that they got from using that brand
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:18 am

Family, school, army, and factory are no longer so many analogous but different sites converging in an owner, whether the state or some private power, but transmutable or transformable coded configurations of a single business where the only people left are administrators. Even art has moved away from closed sites and into the open circuits of banking. Markets are won by taking control rather than by establishing a discipline, by fixing rates rather than by reducing costs, by transforming products rather than by specializing production. Corruption here takes on a new power. The sales department becomes a business’ center or “soul.” We’re told businesses have souls, which is surely the most terrifying news in the world. Marketing is now the instrument of social control and produces the arrogant breed who are our masters. Control is short-term and rapidly shifting, but at the same time continuous and unbounded, whereas discipline was long-term, infinite, and discontinuous. A man is no longer a man confined but a man in debt.
Gilles Deleuze-
Postscript on Societies of Control
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:26 am

Empathy Marketing 101

June 01, 2009

By Gary Olson

"Altruism marketing is a powerful way to say, 'We Care.' "

- Michael Silverstein, Boston Consulting Group

Not infrequently the most convincing testimony to the veracity and potential power of new scientific discoveries is when they're embraced -- for profit-driven motives -- by corporate America. Today the incandecent mantra in business and advertising circles is "empathy marketing," or more broadly, neuromarketing (NM). Market researchers and advertising experts are attempting to stand shoulder to shoulder with "the better angels of our nature" in hopes this will increase sales. In short, putting oneself in another's shoes is a technique for selling them another pair.

We can think of marketing in two ways: first, the traditional and more disingenuous textbook notion, something on the order of "responding to and satisfying the needs desires of the customer." And the second, closer to an honest description: "how to manipulate consumer behavior on behalf of increased sales and revenue." Advertising executive and neuromarketer Adam Koval asserts that his field will get "... customers to behave in ways [clients] want them to behave." [1]

A early and classic description of the latter form appeared in Vance Oakley Packard's, The Hidden Persuaders (1957) where he identified a "large-scale channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing decisions, and our thought processes by the use of insights gleaned from psychology and the Social sciences. Typically these efforts take place beneath our level of awareness...are often, in a sense 'hidden.' The result is that many of us are being influenced andmanipulated, far more than we realize." [2]

In our day, NM is seeking to capitalize on neuroscientific studies showing that humans are hard wired for empathy via our brain's mirror neuron system. This neural circuity, a natural inheritance from our closest nonhuman primate relatives, is the basis for empathic behavior as it involuntarily and instantaneously responds to another person's feelings. [3]

Consumer behavior is determined by direct correlation with certain marketing stimuli, all of it measured as neural brain activity. The goal is to establish emotional connection with the "brand." (Some commentators trace Neuromarketing research to Harvard marketing professor Gerald Zaltman in 1995. He patented his technique as the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique or ZMET).

Buy-ology, a recent corporate-financed ($7 million) book by self-described "global branding expert" Martin Lindstrom, covers what fMRI studies and mirror neurons can contribute to marketer's success. Lindstrom advises CEOs at GlaxoSmithKline, Unilever, McDonald¹s Nestle, and Microsoft among others. And Dev Patnaik, business strategist and author of WIRED TO CARE: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy (2009), highlights the discovery of mirror neurons when writing "People are wired to care. Organizations need to be wired to care, as well." Patnaik readily acknowledges that empathy is the basis for moral behavior and that this hard-wiring pre-dates religion and philosophy. It seems that NM must calculate how to take advantage of this irrefutable fact of a human predisposition toward empathy without taking it too seriously, that is, to its natural and universal application.

Patnaik favors this version of the Golden Rule: "Do unto each other as we would have done unto us." However, his application extends no further than profit making companies seeking a sales advantage in the market place. According to the author, "leveraging" that empathy permits one "to see new opportunities faster than their competition...." and he has conveyed that neuromarketing bottom-line advice to clients from IBM and General Mills to Proctor & Gamble and Nike.

Empathylabs of Philadelphia advertises, "Looking For That First Mover Advantage? Try Empathy." As consultants to Fortune 500 companies, they promise clients that "Empathy enables our work to forge emotional connections between your audience and your brand..."

Marketing consultant Patricia Fripp counsels "If you want your marketing to make money for you, focus on your customers' feelings and beliefs. Unless you can convince them that you understand them and their problems -- that you're empathetic -- they're probably not going to buy from you."

Yet another empathy guru advises that professional coaching is helpful because empathy is a skill that requires training. She defines empathy marketing as the application of influence "in a manner that does not feel like an attempt to persuade others."

This literature sometimes reads like a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers but here we see commodified empathy being practiced by specialists honing their skills in order to pass as normal human beings. To avoid detection as marketing zombies, here are just a few (I'm not making these up) prescriptions and examples:

1.) Convince potential customers that "we feel for you" that our brand truly cares about you -- and do it in a believable and meaningful manner. For example, Bank of America ads say "We're working to help people stay in their homes, not just buy them." Allstate insurance has a compassionate father figure (Dennis Haysbert) oozing empathic lines about the importance of family and friends while pushing multiple insurance policies.

2.) Drug makers Biogen and Elan empathy marketing strategy features a simulator that allows doctors to step into the shoes of a multiple sclerosis patient. According to Stephen Heuser of the Boston Globe, pharma companies are betting that a more empathetic doctor will prescribe more of their drugs.

3.) Frito-Lay¹s neuromarket specialists recently unveiled an ad campaign to entice women to munch more Chitos and Doritos. Termed ³Only in a Women¹s World,² the campaign is based on empathy research on women.

4.) Some discredited financial and banking institutions have turned to NeuroFocus, the Berkeley, CA., based global leader in neuromarketing to burnish their image. Based on their research on affective responses, NeuroFocus advised that "The strongest message consumers want to hear is how much their bank empathizes with their pain." [4]

5.) In teaching his "Needfinding" class at Stanford Business School, Patnaik assigns the "Moccasins project," a reference to walking a mile in another's moccasins. He believes this is the key to success in the marketplace.

6.) And a few practical tips for cultivating faux empathy on behalf of improved business results:

- Remember people's names, including spouses and children so you can refer to them by name.

- Smile at people.

- "Show people that you care by taking a personal interest in them. Show genuine curiosity about their lives. Ask them questions about their hobbies, their challenges, their families, their aspirations."

- Read up on emotional intelligence, attend workshops and/or hire a professional coach [5]

Of course corporations that truly practiced empathy beyond narrow self-serving and tortured definitions would be vanquished by competitors less enamored of the Golden Rule. But the point is moot because carrying off a convincing impersonation of empathetic behavior is all that matters in this situation.

We know that the question of meeting people's actual needs never appears in the for-profit marketer's power point presentation on empathy because the concrete, logical and long term interest of the working class is the abolition of capitalism itself.

This draws into a sharp relief a lesson for the left: In framing public policy issues we shouldn't shy away from creative and explicit appeals to our intrinsic empathic nature, to solidarity, cooperation, and mutual benefit. Such an appeal is both entirely consistent with recent neuroscience discoveries and a potentially powerful tool for an anti-market "marketing" strategy. [6]

Gary Olson chairs the political science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. Contact:


[1] "The Science of Shopping," 12/2/02, money/science_shopping. [2] As cited by Allen Gottheil in "Redefining Marketing: Self-Interest, Altruism and Solidarity," M.A. thesis, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, 1996. [3] The best treatment of mirror neurons is Marco Iacaoboni, Mirroring People, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2008 (paper). [4] "Neuromarketing Helps Bank Win Back Customer Trust," March 31, 2009 [5] Bruna Martinuzzi, "What's Empathy Got To Do With It?" [6] To my knowledge, Canadian union organizer and consultant Allen Gottheil was the first to expound this radically unorthodox approach to marketing. See citation [1] above.

From: ... gary-olson
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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:57 pm

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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:21 pm ... xcerpts-1/


..You stop a horse that is bolting. You do not stop a jogger who is jogging. Foaming at the mouth, his mind riveted on the inner countdown to the moment when he will acheive a higher plane of consciousness, he is not to be stopped. If you stopped him to ask the time, he would bite your head off. He doesn't have a bit between his teeth, though he may perhaps be carrying dumb-bells or even weights in his belt (where are the days when girls used to wear bracelets on their ankles?). What the third-century Stylite sought in self-privation and proud stillness, he is seeking through the muscular exhaustion of his body. He is the brother in mortification of those who conscientiously exhaust themselves in the body-building studios on com-plicated machines with chrome pulleys and on terrifying medical contraptions.There is a direct line that runs from the medieval instruments of torture, viathe industrial movements of production-line work, to the techniques ofschooling the body by using mechanical apparatuses. Like dieting, body-building, and so many other things, jogging is a new form of voluntary servitude (it is also a new form of adultery).

Decidedly, joggers are the true Latter Day Saints and the protagonists of an easy-does-it Apocalypse. Nothing evokes the end of the world more than a man running straight ahead on a beach, swathed in the sounds of his walkman, cocooned in the solitary sacrifice of his energy, indifferent even to catastrophes since he expects destruction to come only as the fruit of hisown efforts, from exhausting the energy of a body that has in his own eyes become useless. Primitives, when in despair, would commit suicide by swimming out to sea until they could swim no longer. The jogger commits suicide by running up and down the beach. His eyes are wild, saliva drips from his mouth. Do not stop him. He will either hit you or simply carry on dancing around in front of you like a man possessed.

The only comparable distress is that of a man eating alone in the heart of the city. You see people doing that in New York, the human flotsam of conviviality, no longer even concealing themselves to eat leftovers in public.But this still belongs to the world of urban, industrial poverty.

The thousands of lone men, each running on their own account, with no thought for others, with a stereophonic fluid in their heads that oozes through into their eyes, that is the world of Blade Runner, the post-catastrophe world. Not to be aware of the natural light of California, nor even of a mountain fire that has been driven ten miles out to sea by the hot wind, and is enveloping the offshore oil platforms in its smoke, to see nothing of all this and obstinately to carry on running by a sort of lymphatic flagellation till sacrificial exhaustion is reached, that is truly a sign from the beyond. It is like the obese person who keeps on getting fatter, the record rotating endlessly in the same groove, the cells of a tumour proliferating, like everything that has lost the formula for stopping itself. This entire society, including its active,productive part - everyone - is running straight ahead, because they havelost the formula for stopping.

All these track-suits and jogging suits, these loose-fitting shorts and baggycotton shirts, these 'easy clothes' are actually old bits of nightwear, and all these relaxed walkers and runners have not yet left the night behind. As aresult of wearing these billowing clothes, their bodies have come to float in their clothes and they themselves float in their own bodies.

Anorexic culture: a culture of disgust, of expulsion, of anthropoemia, of rejection. Characteristic of a period of obesity, saturation, overabundance.The anorexic prefigures this culture in rather a poetic fashion by trying to keep it at bay. He refuses lack. He says: I lack nothing, therefore I shall not eat. With the overweight person, it is the opposite: he refuses fullness,repletion. He says: I lack everything, so I will eat anything at all. The anorexic staves off lack by emptiness, the overweight person staves off fullness by excess. Both are homeopathic final solutions, solutions by extermination.

The jogger has yet another solution. In a sense, he spews himself out; he doesn't merely expend his energy in his running, he vomits it. He has to attain the ecstasy of fatigue, the 'high' of mechanical annihilation, just as the anorexic aims for the 'high' of organic annihilation, the ecstasy of the emptybody and the obese individual seeks the high of dimensional annihilation: the ecstasy of the full body.

Baudrillard, Jean. "AMERICA - Excerpts 1" Verso, London and New York. 1998. Available: ... rica2.html

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Re: Economic Aspects of "Love"

Postby American Dream » Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:31 pm

Excerpted from:
Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), pp.149-181.



This chapter is an effort to build an ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism. Perhaps more faithful as blasphemy is faithful, than as reverent worship and identification. Blasphemy has always seemed to require taking things very seriously. I know no better stance to adopt from within the secular-religious, evangelical traditions of United States politics, including the politics of socialist feminism. Blasphemy protects one from the moral majority within, while still insisting on the need for community. Blasphemy is not apostasy. Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectically, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humour and serious play. It is also a rhetorical strategy and a political method, one I would like to see more honoured within socialist-feminism. At the centre of my ironic faith, my blasphemy, is the image of the cyborg.

A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction. The international women's movements have constructed 'women's experience', as well as uncovered or discovered this crucial collective object. This experience is a fiction and fact of the most crucial, political kind. Liberation rests on the construction of the consciousness, the imaginative apprehension, of oppression, and so of possibility. The cyborg is a matter of fiction and lived experience that changes what counts as women's experience in the late twentieth century. This is a struggle over life and death, but the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion.

Contemporary science fiction is full of cyborgs - creatures simultaneously animal and machine, who populate worlds ambiguously natural and crafted.

Modern medicine is also full of cyborgs, of couplings between organism and machine, each conceived as coded devices, in an intimacy and with a power that was not generated in the history of sexuality. Cyborg 'sex' restores some of the lovely replicative baroque of ferns and invertebrates (such nice organic prophylactics against heterosexism). Cyborg replication is uncoupled from organic reproduction. Modern production seems like a dream of cyborg colonization work, a dream that makes the nightmare of Taylorism seem idyllic. And modern war is a cyborg orgy, coded by C3I, command-control-communication-intelligence, an $84 billion item in 1984'sUS defence budget. I am making an argument for the cyborg as a fiction mapping our social and bodily reality and as an imaginative resource suggesting some very fruitful couplings. Michael Foucault's biopolitics is a flaccid premonition of cyborg politics, a very open field.

By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. Ths cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centres structuring any possibility of historical transformation. In the traditions of 'Western' science and politics--the tradition of racist, male-dominant capitalism; the tradition of progress; the tradition of the appropriation of nature as resource for the productions of culture; the tradition of reproduction of the self from the reflections of the other - the relation between organism and machine has been a border war. The stakes in the border war have been the territories of production, reproduction, and imagination. This chapter is an argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction. It is also an effort to contribute to socialist-feminist culture and theory in a postmodernist, non-naturalist mode and in the utopian tradition of imagining a world without gender, which is perhaps a world without genesis, but maybe also a world without end. The cyborg incarnation is outside salvation history. Nor does it mark time on an oedipal calendar, attempting to heal the terrible cleavages of gender in an oral symbiotic utopia or post-oedipal apocalypse. As Zoe Sofoulis argues in her unpublished manuscript on Jacques Lacan, Melanie Klein, and nuclear culture, Lacklein, the most terrible and perhaps the most promising monsters in cyborg worlds are embodied in non-oedipal narratives with a different logic of repression, which we need to understand for our survival.

The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity. In a sense, the cyborg has no origin story in the Western sense - a 'final' irony since the cyborg is also the awful apocalyptic telos of the

'West's' escalating dominations of abstract individuation, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency, a man in space. An origin story in the 'Western', humanist sense depends on the myth of original unity, fullness, bliss and terror, represented by the phallic mother from whom all humans must separate, the task of individual development and of history, the twin potent myths inscribed most powerfully for us in psychoanalysis and Marxism. Hilary Klein has argued that both Marxism and psychoanalysis, in their concepts of labour and of individuation and gender formation, depend on the plot of original unity out of which difference must be produced and enlisted in a drama of escalating domination of woman/nature. The cyborg skips the step of original unity, of identification with nature in the Western sense. This is its illegitimate promise that might lead to subversion of its teleology as star wars.

The cyborg is resolutely committed to partiality, irony, intimacy, and perversity. It is oppositional, utopian, and completely without innocence. No longer structured by the polarity of public and private, the cyborg defines a technological polls based partly on a revolution of social relations in the oikos, the household. Nature and culture are reworked; the one can no longer be the resource for appropriation or incorporation by the other. The rela-tionships for forming wholes from parts, including those of polarity and hierarchical domination, are at issue in the cyborg world. Unlike the hopes of Frankenstein's monster, the cyborg does not expect its father to save it through a restoration of the garden; that is, through the fabrication of a heterosexual mate, through its completion in a finished whole, a city and cosmos. The eyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust. Perhaps that is why I want to see if eyborgs can subvert the apocalypse of returning to nuclear dust in the manic compulsion to name the Enemy. Cyborgs are not reverent; they do not re-member the cosmos. They are wary of holism, but needy for connection- they seem to have a natural feel for united front politics, but without the vanguard party. The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.

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