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Why Right Wing Nonsense Dominates

Progressive causes are failing: here’s how they could be turned around

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We are not born with our values. They are shaped by the social environment. By changing our perception of what is normal and acceptable, politics alters our minds as much as our circumstances. Free, universal health provision, for example, tends to reinforce intrinsic values. Shutting the poor out of healthcare normalises inequality, reinforcing extrinsic values. The sharp rightward shift which began with Margaret Thatcher and persisted under Blair and Brown, all of whose governments emphasised the virtues of competition, the market and financial success, has changed our values. The British Social Attitudes survey, for example, shows a sharp fall over this period in public support for policies which redistribute wealth and opportunity(2).

This shift has been reinforced by advertising and the media. The media’s fascination with power politics, its rich lists, its catalogues of the 100 most powerful, influential, intelligent or beautiful people, its obsessive promotion of celebrity, fashion, fast cars, expensive holidays: all these inculcate extrinsic values. By generating feelings of insecurity and inadequacy - which means reducing self-acceptance - they also suppress intrinsic goals.

Advertisers, who employ large numbers of psychologists, are well aware of this. Crompton quotes Guy Murphy, global planning director for the marketing company JWT. Marketers, Murphy says, “should see themselves as trying to manipulate culture; being social engineers, not brand managers; manipulating cultural forces, not brand impressions”(3). The more they foster extrinsic values, the easier it is to sell their products.

Rightwing politicians have also, instinctively, understood the importance of values in changing the political map. Margaret Thatcher famously remarked that “economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.”(4) Conservatives in the United States generally avoid debating facts and figures. Instead they frame issues in ways that both appeal to and reinforce extrinsic values. Every year, through mechanisms that are rarely visible and seldom discussed, the space in which progressive ideas can flourish shrinks a little more. The progressive response to this trend has been disastrous.

Instead of confronting the shift in values, we have sought to adapt to it. Once-progressive political parties have tried to appease altered public attitudes: think of all those New Labour appeals to Middle England, which was often just a code for self-interest. In doing so they endorse and legitimise extrinsic values. Many greens and social justice campaigners have also tried to reach people by appealing to self-interest: explaining how, for example, relieving poverty in the developing world will build a market for British products, or suggesting that, by buying a hybrid car, you can impress your friends and enhance your social status. This tactic also strengthens extrinsic values, making future campaigns even less likely to succeed. Green consumerism has been a catastrophic mistake.

SOURCE: the whole awesome article is here-->
http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/10/11/the-values-of-everything/
came to my attention via lj community: powerswitch

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