Sunday, April 6, 2008

Seminar 1: My response to Heath and Potter’s The Rebel Sell, discussing the central postulates.

“Capitalism requires conformity in the workers. Capitalism is one big machine; the workers are just parts. These parts need to be as simple, predictable, and interchangeable as possible. One need only look at an assembly line to see why. Like bees or ants, capitalist workers need to be organized into a limited number of homogeneous castes.”

The capitalist society is one that thrives on constant economic competition which in turn, makes the people who produce the goods and services the ultimate gears of society. From this it is understood that unemployed are the ones outside of the social realm, and not integrated members of society.

In order for something to happen or any kind of productivity, there needs to be conformity. We can look at the signs and symbols we see in our daily lives that indicate worker conformity, including uniforms (to maintain status), unions (to maintain fairness between workers and employers), as well as clubs that encourage similar interests. All of these stimulate a sense of egalitarianism. With these conforming groups there is strengthened communications and the ability to establish goals and even embrace change as a group.

Unfortunately, the resulting effect is workers being repressed to conform.

In American Beauty, Lester sets an example of rebelling against worker conformity when he quits his job, flips off and blackmails his boss. In the article, Heath and Potter express “individuals who resist the pressure to conform therefore subvert the system, and aids in its overthrow”.

Workers of the capitalist society are also concerned about their social standing. They have accepted the values of the ruling class as and will try their worst to achieve them.
Our social and economic goals are common, but the ability to obtain these goals is class-dependant. By the ideologies of Willem Bonger, a Marxist criminologist, most people desire wealth, material possessions, power and prestige; however as we know the lower class is less able to achieve these symbols of success.

In No Logo, Naomi Klein knows this concept very well. She tells us how people are fighting over the “new” lofts where she currently lives, as has lived for a while, because they are a highly desired location. And thus want a piece of her status, even if they are “not the genuine article but mass-produced, commercialized facsimiles of it”.

All in all, the notion of capitalist conformity creates an illusion that everyone is equal and that there is no greater divide between wealth, hereditary rank or profession.

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