America’s Marketing Mentality

Who won World War II? At one level, of course, it was the US, Britain, and their allies. There is a deeper level, however, one in which it can fairly be said the winner of the War was the American managerial mentality.
Written in the late 80s, Robert Bellah’s Habits of the Heart identifies two common mindsets among Americans: the therapeutic and the managerial. In the therapeutic way of thinking, every discomfort is merely a problem to be fixed. There are no moral lessons to be learned from pain, whether caused by another or self-inflicted. The goal is simply to be rid of discomfort and “be happy.”
The real power in the American mindset, however, is in the managerial way of thinking. Look for examples in the current presidential campaign. One of the issues is the wealth of Mitt Romney. He has made a substantial fortune from buying poorly managed companies and turning them around. This is a good thing but one wonders at the exorbitant profits he has made from such dealings. Where did that money come from? From the pockets of the consumers, of course, whose profits have been stagnant for a long time now. Our society has begun rewarding managers with incredible sums of money, whether or not they actually produce anything.
Or look at the way campaigns are conducted. The candidates are marketed exactly like laundry detergent, beer, toilet paper. As the Canon ad said several years ago, “Image is everything.” The purpose of a campaign, now that such political tasks are ruled by marketers, is the improve the image of the candidate buying the marketers services and to ruin the image of the other candidates.
Substance? Hardly an issue at all. Whatever might be substantial – such as the relation between government, Wall Street, and large corporations – is reduced to a few soundbytes, repeated endlessly and thoughtlessly as some sort of mantra.
The question I keep asking these days is, Who is most likely to elected to high office in our day, an honest person or a bald faced liar?


About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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