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Thread: Generation Sell

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Are they really saying that trying to work by selling the stuff you produce or make up on your own leads to a kind of personality which is more "fake" than the typical corporate rat-racer just because someone is attentive to his own potential clients, and how that is supposed to be worse than licking your boss' arse in a big corporate building and working overtime everyday for something that will never add happiness and/or pleasure to the lives of other people? Are they really trying to say that?

    Then I completely and utterly disagree.

    Plus it's kind of weird how the autor thinks you need to change your personality in order to be a good entrpreneur and deal with clients. It seems easy enough to me, you're agreeing to a mutual exchange of goods, what could be better than that?
    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    The part about the op ed that rubs me the wrong way is the insinuation that interest in starting one’s own private business is (at least, in part) at the heart of the problem. I agree with FDG in that regard- I don’t think feigning respect for potential customers/clients is a whole lot different than feigning respect for corporate bosses. The only difference I can see is that the external force someone is modifying their behavior to accommodate is more ‘invisible’ when they are their own boss- so the person will be less aware they are actually still modifying their behavior for other people, and therefore less aware they're putting more weight on how to make their 'self' marketable than they otherwise would- but even then, I think it’s far more about technology, our culture and not having enough privacy/space than it is about owning one’s own business.
    I think you're both missing the point: it's not about selling a product, it's about selling one's self.

    It's not saying that feigning 'respect' by being overly-affable is restricted to people starting their own businesses, the author is trying to make the point that it's a cultural phenomenon that permeates everybody these days. The corporate ass-kisser is no different than the 'artist' trying to self-promote: everybody's nose is brown.


    What the author seems to be trying to debate is whether this affability, this 'niceness', this lack of egoism and negativity is as a result of people constantly marketing themselves or whether it's a reflection of a shift in our culture overall, and we're just becoming 'nicer'. Or maybe "less apt to upset people" is a better way of putting it. We're still just as apt to be ruthless behind people's backs.

    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    I just thinks he likes to add a bit of drama, paradoxically because he wants to "sell" his own article.
    Certainly, that's what the article itself is all about. The other article Vasilisa quoted speaks of the decline of manufacturing goods in American industry. We ("the industrialized world", not just "America") don't make 'stuff' anymore. I think that's particularly pertinent to the discussion. In fact I think we can summarize it by saying we don't make stuff anymore: we sell stuff.

    We're a society built on selling things to each other and taking a cut, and using that cut to buy other things from other people selling those other things. What the "Generation Sell" article is touching upon is that 'salesman' mentality is so widespread and ingrained that it has, in the author's opinion, pervaded youth culture. Youth culture which used to be all about rebellion and lashing out against the injustices and conservatism of prior generations, even questioning whether our society has an overall point to it at all, has morphed into a culture of marketing the individual. It's not just about selling material goods (remember, we don't make stuff anymore). It's about selling ideas.

    Going back to a point you made, Buck, technology has certainly made marketing one's self easier. We have facebook pages and blogs and so on, media we can use to create an image for the sake of selling 'us', for selling our ideas. Whether that's for profit or just for the sake of, say, fitting in a social group is probably not all that important a distinction in my opinion; either way it's about selling the idea of who we are, what we think and what we do. To echo your last comment, it doesn't really have anything to do with owning one's own business. What the article posits is that because we're so concerned with our image for the sake personal marketability we've become a culture of 'nice' people. Whether real or feigned we go out of our way to not offend.

    To put it in other terms I'd like to use this quote:

    I think it’s far more about technology, our culture and not having enough privacy/space
    Is this marketing mentality the RESULT of technology and a lack of privacy/space, or have we created the privacy-invading technology as a tool to help cultivate the marketing mentality in the first place? I think that's more to the point the author is making.


    I think the point the author makes about hipsters vs. other youth movements in the past is very prescient. "Hispterism" isn't a counter-cultural movement like hippies, beatniks, punks and grungy malcontents before them. "Hipsterism" at its heart is about buying 'stuff' to FIT IN. The author himself says as much (the text in red is my emphasis):

    I’m a bobo [bourgeois bohemian; read: hipster with money] in a hipster-bobo neighborhood — which is pretty much what I was looking for when I moved to Portland in the first place. We’re all into organic food and progressive politics;
    He moved to Portland not to rebel or dissent but to fit in to the hipster culture. The way hipsters relate is by buying into the hipster culture as a whole. They relate through buying material goods like organic food, yoga pants and Apple computers, and they also relate by buying into 'liberal' ideas and ideals whether they believe in them or not. Being a hipster is not about holding beliefs of a particular sort, it's about a lifestyle and all the material goods and political ideals that are supposed to go with it. It's about relating through what people buy and sell.


    I could go on and on about my cynicism for hipsters and the salesman mentality many of us have adopted. At the heart of it I think we still measure our self-worth by how much money and belongings we have but we're so inundated with people hocking material goods that we've moved on to selling ideas, personal images, lifestyles and, figuratively, people as a whole.

  2. #12
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    We don't make stuff because manufacturing has been outsourced, not because we have suddently become snobbish and all want to be salesmen.
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  3. #13
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    That's tangent to what I was talking about. We've become salesmen because manufacturing has been outsourced; being salesmen is all we have left.

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    I have heard of such issues before; Zygmunt Bauman - as I told Vasilisa a while ago - described that very same situation back when MySpace was big.

    What can we do, individually and collectively, about this issue? That's the million-dollar question...
    Tentative typing: ISFJ 6w5 or 9w1 (Sp/S[?]).

  5. #15

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    I think that the money changers are ruling the roost, although that's a closed shop to most people and that doesnt feature so much in the "nice narrative" of capitalism that everyone can have whatever they want, provided they just want it hard enough. So selling and shop keeping come in as the feasible, lesser form of the dream of striking it rich and joining the elite.

    I reckon that Erich Fromm's personality typology explains the ascendency of the capitalist dream, here's some links and a quiz to test yourself:

    http://quizfarm.com/quizzes/new/Dean...tions-are-you/

    http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/fromm.html

    I think this sort of ascendency of cash values further and further and further is sickening, it really bothers me, there was a time that whether people where left, right or apolitical they believed in the sovereignty of politics, good or something, now its just making money.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    What can we do, individually and collectively, about this issue? That's the million-dollar question...
    Well that is a good point, its pretty difficult to escape the way in which consumerism or capitalism co-opts pretty much everything in life, its one thing to consider it an unpleasant reality and another altogether if its just the economy reflecting cultural shifts or trends (which can be politically critical of even the methods, mode and production its been delivered by) but the way in which even the ugly or vicious and, yes, extremist, elements of capitalism have been celebrated is just disgusting.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I think this sort of ascendency of cash values further and further and further is sickening, it really bothers me, there was a time that whether people where left, right or apolitical they believed in the sovereignty of politics, good or something, now its just making money.
    One perspective could be to see this as part of the transformation from the "modern" conception of ourselves as citizens to the "postmodern" conception of ourselves primarily as consumers. Politics nowadays is just another form of brand advertisement, as opposed to a presentation of certain principles and policies to follow. One could say that politics hasn't really recovered from World War II.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    One perspective could be to see this as part of the transformation from the "modern" conception of ourselves as citizens to the "postmodern" conception of ourselves primarily as consumers. Politics nowadays is just another form of brand advertisement, as opposed to a presentation of certain principles and policies to follow. One could say that politics hasn't really recovered from World War II.
    I think that it set in before WW2, managerialism was taking shape before that, hearing people talking about how Greece needs to be ruled by technocrats during the Euro crisis took me back.

    The libertarians, as always, have been pretty good at framing the election debates and discussions as representation vs. democracy, the limited but authoritarian police state they favour is a defacto fascistic regime which authors commentating the rise of Mussolini and Hitler rightly suggested was the goal of their sponsors (who never took the politics seriously).

    Although I think that even they underestimate how ill the contamination or over riding of political citizenship by consumerism has been. Schumpeter came close in predicting what would happen but I think he got it wrong predicting that the consequence would be an inevitable central plan economy (so called socalism by him).

    Its had a seriously bad effect upon individual sovereignty, consumers are essentially passive, negotiating brands does not tax the intellect too much, not when the product is the same (pepsi and coke really are both Colas) and I squarely blame consumerist norms for the collapse in personal responsibility. Entitlements and paternalism are significant too but not as significant, they predate modernity and capitalism and consumerism and never had the impact that's been attributed to them laterly.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I think that it set in before WW2, managerialism was taking shape before that, hearing people talking about how Greece needs to be ruled by technocrats during the Euro crisis took me back.
    You're not entirely wrong, but politics still had some considerable force left in it. One of the main themes of post-1789 mentality was the all-importance of politics or the primacy of political factors. The experience of WWII and the rise of totalitarian regimes kinda shook this notion to the core, and fell out of favor within the Western world at least, deciding it had entered a "post-political" or "post-ideological" age. The notion of politics as an actual means of changing the world still existed, but it was a real shadow of itself, mostly relying often sentimentalist rhetoric in absence of any actual analysis - which is what characterised much of the 1960s for example.

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    The notion of politics as an actual means of changing the world still existed, but it was a real shadow of itself, mostly relying often sentimentalist rhetoric in absence of any actual analysis - which is what characterised much of the 1960s for example.
    On the left for sure, what point do you think that the right or conservatives decided that the primacy of politics rather than economics or vested (rich) interests being in charge rather than the statesmen was a good idea?

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