On Capitalism As A Culture Industry

An interesting read. It definitely feels like it’s all true.

A Humanist's perspective

In the 1940’s, the German-American philosophers Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno introduced the term “culture industry” as a description for Capitalist societies. The basic premise being that such cultures function as industries, and that various aspects therein condition people to function as active consumers and alienated workers in order to sustain the process of mass production. Mass marketing conditions addictive spending habits, standardizes styles, and defines fads and fashions in order to create and coordinate cyclical yet predictable markets in order to justify endless mass production.

In his 1957 book “The Art Of Loving”, Erich Fromm identified three elements which are necessary in a Capitalist society. Those elements being people who will work together to perform assigned tasks, people who will buy things, and people who will obey orders. The ability of people to work together in order to produce in bulk is a quality which is exploited by those…

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8 thoughts on “On Capitalism As A Culture Industry

  1. I posted this comment over there, but thought you might like to tun the discussion. Let me know if you thought otherwise.
    —Probably nowhere is this more obvious than in the auto industry, or a pro sports franchise. Provide the right metric of venue and product and people will hoard their way, even overpay for the privilidge to be a part of a carefully marketed strategy that plays on human emotion, vanity, and gullibility. $5000 dollars for every chevrolet is advertising, another $5000 for pensions/retirement programs. $10k off the top is nothing to sneeze at, but few even blink their eyes driving off The lot losing that money. And sports? I think we all know that racket.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for leaving the comment here as well! You are right, those are good examples. I also remember hearing or reading somewhere the the choice to make things cheaply instead of solidly is also designed to keep us buying things. We have the technology to make things like appliances that last a long time and even if they break we could keep professions like appliance repair viable, but people are convinced that the newest model is vastly better and you’re going to have to buy one anyway because the lifetime of appliances is only between 2-8 years. While technology does advance to use less energy, the waste that’s generated buy replacing appliances with lots of plastic and rubber, also has a cost, and it’s not clear if we’re making things better in the balance by having things that need to be constantly replaced. Things that last of course are more expensive, but in the long arc of 10-15 years you usually end up saving money. We get convinced that it’s better to just have something shiny and new at a low price, even if we have to replace it after a few years. And as income inequality grows, people simply have less disposable income for more expensive long lasting items, but because they’ll end up losing money over the long haul they are generally kept in a state of continuing to not have a lot of disposable income. It’s a vicious cycle.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. HAH! I think this is ABSOLUTELY TRUE, no debate really!

    All one has to do is go interview the wealthy owners in the booming industry of Storage companies, especially the nationally known like Public Storage, U-Haul International, or CubeSmart and your answer is so engrossing and over the top you can’t see over the buildings & boxes! And then consider the spin-off businesses flourishing across the country: daily auctions of abandoned units.

    And should I even get into the excessive TRASH America poops out its anal cavity into land-fills and our lakes and oceans!!!??? 😠

    Liked by 1 person

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