And then there is that strain of liberalism that defies Trump in all his vapid cruelty through– hmm— the superfluous purchase of novelty e-waste encased in immortal polyethylene, likely to end up oozing battery acid at the base of landfill, or scattered in a heap of computer parts in some impoverished portion of India or China, before the countdown clock even hits zero. That’ll show him!
I know this a very silly and minor thing to get angry about. It just bothered me because I imagined someone buying it in order to reify and celebrate their left-leaning political ideology, when in reality, buying something like this is almost entirely antithetical to leftist goals. Probably: bad for the environment, bad for human rights. Probably created by some opportunistic Republican or apolitical asshole that saw a chance to make a quick buck. The depressing feeling for me was about the dampening of political imagination– the airbaging of political protest– under capitalism, where consumption can be used to mediate and relieve emotional conditions of distress without challenging or damaging underlying material structures.
I was reminded of a passage from Adorno and Horkheimer’s “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (1944):
Marked differentiations such as those of A and B films, or of stories in magazines in different price ranges, depend not so much on subject matter as on classifying, organising, and labelling consumers. Something is provided for all so that none may escape; the distinctions are emphasised and extended. The public is catered for with a hierarchical range of mass-produced products of varying quality, thus advancing the rule of complete quantification. Everybody must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined and indexed level, and choose the category of mass product turned out for his type
Or more succinctly, in words of the rock-band scholars of CAKE:
Excess ain’t rebellion.
You’re drinking what they’re selling.