id culture

From the day we are born in America, entitlement bangs like a sledgehammer on the raw nerve of our malleable brains. What it produces has nothing to do with self-esteem, that endlessly bandied term, which really only arises from the capacity to esteem others. It has everything to do with the growth of our poor, thoughtless ids. The culture of consumption we have created sustains itself by keeping as many of us as possible anxious children who musthave-it-now. Consumers are the best kind of slaves: slaves who think they are free, slaves who think they are important. “Where everyone has status,” as James Baldwin says, “it is also perfectly possible that no one has.”

The sheer cultural weight of this phenomenon means that it touches every person: rich, middle class, and even poor; of all ethnicities, genders, ages; “responsible” and “irresponsible” people. It plays itself out somewhat differently according to class and subculture, but we are all subjected to it; it is the one unifier in an otherwise not remotely unified society. It is the egalitarianism of the marketplace: the total saturation of every life with the consumerist ideology.

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