The Hidden Dissuaders and the Theft of Democracy

“Neoliberalism is everywhere and nowhere; its custodians are largely invisible.”

For those of us who were around at the time, Vance Packard’s 1957 block-buster ‘The Hidden Persuaders’ seemed a chilling sequel to Orwell’s pre-war, but more seemingly surreal, ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’.

Packard’s ‘hidden persuaders’, however, already had visible and tangible substance by 1957, even though in that apparently least-threatening of familiar environments – the shop and the supermarket. For Packard was announcing the arrival of the professional psychologist and motivational researcher in the basic hum-drumming of our daily lives; flanked by the now-familiar cohorts of smooth-talking advertising and marketing devotees, evangelising this break-through in the divination of consumer wants and desires. Continue Reading »

The Hidden Dissuaders: Preamble

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity…”

Hello! Yeats’ brand of poetic pessimism is characteristically harder on ‘the best’ than ‘the worst’; but for our own times he is most definitely right about the greater ‘passionate intensity’ of those we have allowed to diminish our social and individual propensities for good in the name of the heartless ideologies of neo-liberalism and the market. We are overdue for more ‘passionate intensity’ among the too-quiescent ‘best’. Continue Reading »