Ed Driscoll.com Ed Driscoll.com
Capitalism: You Look Marvelous!
By Ed Driscoll · July 17, 2005 01:37 PM · Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal

Economics professor Bryan Caplan explains the beauty of advertising to Adbusters magazine:

Less than a decade ago, I drove from former West Germany to former East Germany, and was struck by how much more beautiful the West was. Houses in the West had flower boxes. Houses in the East did not. I reflected that the aesthetic gap between West and East used to be vastly greater. And I recalled how people I knew who toured the Soviet bloc were more likely to sadly describe the "greyness" of communist life than the machine guns at the border.

The upshot is that the private pursuit of beauty in the West had a striking externality. Every time a West German put a flower box in his window, he was making capitalism look prettier than socialism. And while intellectuals may say they couldn't care less about such things, I suspect that sheer aesthetics changed a lot of minds about East versus West.

What does this have to do with advertising, and commercialism generally? Corporations do not advertise to create support for capitalism, any more than West Germans planted flowers to fight communism. But advertising does more than just sell one firm's products; it also contributes to the beautiful image of the whole system.

Flip through a popular magazine, or wander through your local mall. Even if you don't remember a single product, you get an overall impression of a world that is colorful, fun, glitzy, and sexy. And that probably leads more people around the world to admire capitalism than Milton Friedman ever did.

In other words, Adbusters is right to insist that advertising persuades people to like capitalism more. It does. But contrary to Adbusters, the corporations don't intend to do it. It just so happens that in their quest to make a buck, corporations make the whole capitalist system look marvelous.

And it does! (Just ask anyone forced to live in Pyongyang.)



Since 2002, News, Technology and Pop Culture, 24 Hours a Day, Live and in Stereo!

(And every Saturday on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.)

What They're Saying

"I'm a big fan of EdDriscoll.com, a fine blog site that MusicTAP recommends. We encourage you to stop in and keep posted on the changing landscape of politics. Wired magazine has noted that Blog sites such as Ed Driscoll is doing more than any medium to educate and inform the netizens of the world."--Matt Rowe, MusicTAP


Navigation
Weblog
Ed TV
Podcasts
Twitter Feed
Articles
Essays
Interviews
Links
About Me
FAQ
Photos

Home

Support the Site

Search

Archives
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002

Etcetera


Bookmark Me!

Blogroll Me!

Steal This Button!

Syndicate this site (XML)
Podcasts Feed

AddThis Feed Button

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

youtube_logo.gif

Our Podcasts' Apple iTunes Page

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35

Site design by
Sekimori

tumblr site counter
Copyright © 2002-2008 Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. All Rights Reserved