Friday, February 8, 2019

Millenarian Consumerism

There’s a cosmopolitanism that unites people from many different societies and a hope that emanates from it. Modernism itself would be an amalgamating factor producing a democratic and even liberal world order. Cultures would be unified by the devices they employed and tribalism would dissipate. It makes a lot of sense. Sophistication is itself a  form of liberation since it depends so much on the idea of self-invention; religious divides could be bridged by compelling forms of entertainment like rock music which for some are a religion (producing its own form of ecstatic transformation) in itself. There’s no doubt that enormously popular rock stars and groups like The Beatles, The Stones, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen have had an almost biblical appeal creating followings who journeyed to varying meccas in the Adamic period of the love generation. Indeed there was Perestroika and the Berlin wall eventually came down. But what happened? China may have become the world’s largest market for iPhones, but the Chinese leadership has been successful in repressing and jailing human rights activists since Tiananmen Square and Imperial Russia and the dark shadow of irredentism is again looming over Eastern Europe. Nike sneakers, Netflicks and Amazon all are evidence of an international market dictating its own overarching uniformity. However, there has always been a Faustian bargain implicit in the notion of a millenarian consumerism. Freedom could literally be purchased, but at what price? Will the collective unconscious of individual cultures, sometimes taking form of an anachronistic fundamentalism, ultimately rise up against the threat homogenization and the loss of historic identity?

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