Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Advertising and secularism

I've ranted about the media and secular culture before. One good whine deserves another! I was discussing with a friend about Poland joining the EU and whether this would impact the strong Catholic faith found in Poland. IMO, of course it will. A country doesn't have to be overtaken by communists to dwindle into secularism--in fact, just the opposite result tends to happen, there. The liberal capitalism of the EU itself will devour Poland just like it has the rest of western Europe.

It all comes down to advertising. Three points.

  1. In an ideologically capitalistic society, the rights to free-speech and free-commerce are hijacked and become the two great cogs of a machine of mass-manipulation. The essential characteristic of this problem is that the systemic ground of the distribution of material resources in a community becomes the creative use of media to manipulate the desire and will of individuals irrespective of their dignity or freedom. Effective advertising is the art of exploiting all elements of the human psyche which are not under the conscious control of the individual's reason, i.e., of bypassing your freedom. The the person's mind, personality, and habits resulting from near perpetual advertising, apart from being encouraged to buy some product or idea, is a mere bi-product of the demand-factory. The more successful an advertising campaign is for a product, the greater the pollution caused, which in this case, rather than chemical or atmospheric waste, is psychological and cultural pollution.
  2. Most people are at least implicitly aware of this situation, and cynicism regarding advertising is widespread and trendy. People understand that virtually every ad lies to them at least partially (a redundancy--all lies are partial lies; otherwise they would not be effective). The reason why most people feel perfectly safe watching movies and television saturated with product-placement and billions of advertisments is that they believe they are innured to the effects and manipulation of marketers. People are simply used to being lied to; in fact they take for granted that those they do not personally know are not generally trustworthy because these strangers have 'always' have an ulterior motive for conversation--usually money. This becomes the great secular mythos, not only regarding authority, but in fact all instances where a person or group seeks to make any message public property. Churches, whose Gospel is personal rather than scientific and difficult rather than easy, are the first sacrificial offering to this new god.
  3. The terrible irony is that both points described in #1 and #2 above are usually true in the same person. The collapse of the credibility of the Gospel due to secular cynicism makes advertisements glow with a new flourescent light which was previously indiscernable in the prior light of the Sun. Secular society is society that lives by the light of glow-in-the-dark plastic.

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