Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Selling Mrs. Conspicuous Consumption

Selling Mrs. Conspicuous Consumption In Selling Mrs. Consumer, Christine Frederick shilled for progressive obsolescence, which had been advocated the previous year in an article by her husband, J. George Frederick. Or at least that is the way it seemed to her biographer, Janice Rutherford, who wrote, “she now took up and elaborated upon his theme, even using […]

A Footnote to IT WAS BEDLAM!

A Footnote to IT WAS BEDLAM! Lewis Corey was a pseudonym for Louis Fraida, one of the founders of the U.S. Communist Party. In a letter to Marcuse dated August 16, 1960, Raya Dunayevskaya replied at length to his request for references to the American literature dealing with the issues of “the transformation of the […]


IT WAS BEDLAM!  From The Decline of American Capitalism by Lewis Corey (1934): Capitalist production saves on labor and multiplies the productive forces. But two contradictions arise which constantly torment capitalist enterprise. Saving on labor decreases relative wages and limits the conditions of consumption. This sets in motion the forces of excess capacity, sharpened competition, and mounting […]

The Blindfolded Scaffolding Begins to Unfold

The Blindfolded Scaffolding Begins to Unfold We sense too little for the process of containment to unfold. Yet phenomenologists focus on early representations from the scaffolding for subsequent events in front of the now not-blindfolded infants. Infants looked at longer aspects of the psychoanalytic scaffolding: how reverie can be and is being a weird kind […]

Profit and the disposable population

The cleric Th. Chalmers, in the otherwise in many respects ridiculous and repulsive work… has correctly struck upon this point, ‘Profit,’ says the same Chalmers, ‘has the effect of attaching the services of the disposable population to other masters, besides the mere landed proprietors, . . . while their expenditure reaches higher than the necessaries […]

War, Waste, and the Myth of Progress

War, Waste, and the Myth of Progress In the introduction to One-Dimensional Man, Herbert Marcuse listed four authors — Vance Packard, C. Wright Mills, William H. White, and Fred J. Cooks — whose works were of “vital importance” to his analysis. In the text, he mentioned “the affluent society” several times, which, of course, was the […]

Never Mind Schrödinger’s Cat, Here’s David Bohm’s Dream

Never Mind Schrödinger’s Cat, Here’s David Bohm’s Dream I’ve had dreams of all sorts from time to time, but I don’t remember them too well. There was one dream that had a sort of philosophical content. I dreamt I was in a place that had a cat. I came into the room where this cat […]

Expressions that pass from hand to hand like sealed containers…

Expressions that pass from hand to hand like sealed containers… In Herbert Marcuse and Planned Obsolescence I undertook to develop a theoretical foundation for ‘planned obsolescence’ from Georg Simmel’s analysis of the “preponderance of objective culture over subjective culture that developed during the nineteenth century.” My intuition has proved to be uncannily prescient. Besides the indirect influence […]

Herbert Marcuse and Planned Obsolescence

Herbert Marcuse and Planned Obsolescence “Our whole economy is based on planned obsolescence, and everybody who can read without moving his lips should know it by now. We make good products, we induce people to buy them, and then next year we deliberately introduce something that will make those products old fashioned, out of date, […]

Writing about free time

“What they create [in their free time] has something superfluous about it.” I am finding it difficult to proceed with writing about free time because I am not having enough opportunity to talk out these questions with people in person. (Comments on Sandwichman’s post over at Econospeak is worth a thoughtful pause and and consideration…Dan)