IN OUR relationship with the state, we are only concerned about our well-being and interests as individuals. Basically, we would not want an oppressive state, a state which transgresses our basic rights with impunity.
We would then make conclusions in respect of our relationship with the state.This is the nature of the oft-repeated social contract between us and the state. Basically, we, as individuals, agree to surrender some of our rights to the state in exchange for collective benefits which the state promises to bring to society as a whole.
However, the advent of capitalism and the free market creates another machination for oppression, namely, what I would term as the “free market oppression”. Assisting the free market oppression is mass-marketing, a free-market tool made far easier, cheaper and a lot more efficient by the Internet.
Unlike state-sponsored oppression, which often operates through physical forces (like what is currently taking place in Syria), free market oppression is far more sophisticated and sublime. Its aim is not unlike the aim of state-sponsored oppression, namely, subjugation. However, while the latter’s objective is to physically subjugate the citizens, the former’s aim is to subjugate the mind of consumers.
Mass-marketing is aimed at creating a state of mind within a susceptible target group. Susceptibility is the exploitation agent. If susceptibility does not exist, mass-marketing would aim to create one. That it does insidiously, subliminally and with lasting effectiveness. It is like the hypnotist asking his subject to look at the pendulum moving from side to side until, at a snap of the fingers, the subject is hypnotised.
The danger with free market oppression is that none of us realise that it is happening. It takes place every second of the day, on televisions, YouTube, websites, newspapers, magazines, billboards and every kind of mass-media imaginable. They are all legal, of course. In fact, the state earns money from it! Capitalism and the free market are all about having the luxury and the right to choose. That is in turn tied up to free will and its exercise.
But have we ever stopped to ask how free our will is at the hand of capitalism and the free market? Or whether the free market has grown so big and powerful that it has managed to create a hologram of perceived reality
that controls our mind and leads us to nowhere but a lifestyle which is dictated not by our free will, but by that hologram?
In other words, are we all living in a reality administered by capitalism and the free market? Ironically, by taking part in this hologram-ed reality, we continue to feed that administered reality, giving it more power over us, which in turn is used to tighten its grip on us. The cycle goes on, subliminally, as we continue to live hypnotically, almost happily ever after, when in fact we are just part of a vicious and oppressive mind-regime. Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion scion, a true blue free market royalty, recently branded Adele as “too fat”. Of course Adele hit back saying that she is what she is and that she doesn’t want to be “some skinny mini with my tits out”.
Now, imagine the world without mass marketing. Fat could be the norm of beauty, for all we know. Or imagine what would happen had mass marketing fed all of us the message that fat is beautiful. Wouldn’t everybody in the world be trying to be fat by now? Go to GNC and I am sure lining its shelves would be various powders and herbs and what-nots which could make all of us go fat rather than slimming tea.
Adele had a good retort. She was brave. But Adele is just like every other woman who has nowhere else to live in other than this free market hologram.
And that hologram is pretty oppressive to people like her, namely those who are deemed fat, and thus, ugly. Latest, Adele is now on diet and to date, has lost approximately 19kg!
One of the most oppressive, if not the most oppressive, free market hologram in Malaysia is targeted at young girls. And that is, being dark is unattractive or just plain ugly. You therefore need this, a whitening cream. Use that cream and the boy you like and who has been ignoring you will now notice you in no time.
Remember the TV advert showing the dark girl at the ticket counter admiring a boy who of course did not notice her?
That is free market oppression of the worst kind. Imagine growing up with insecurities caused by the colour of your skin.
The state is governed, chiefly, by the Federal Constitution. It, among others, states that there shall be no discrimination on the ground of race, religion or gender.
Capitalism and the free market do not have a constitution. It does not have etiquette rules (not in Malaysia, at least). It transgresses us in every possible way every second of the day. And unlike the state, where we have a general election every five years or so, we do not get to vote to choose the market we would like to have.
Now, a state without election and which oppresses is called despotism. What then do we call the free market?
Art Harun blogs at http://art-harun.blogspot.com. Brickbats: feedback2mmail.com.my