Wednesday, September 17, 2008

There is No Counter-Culture!

This book The Rebel Sell by Heath and Potter (title in the US is A Nation of Rebels) has me thinking. I finished it a few weeks ago. While I found much of interest in this book I think the most intriguing and illuminating argument in the book is that there is simply no such thing as a "counter-culture." In fact, the argument is that the counter-culture has only aided the very consumerism which many in the counter-culture deplore. The "system" far from promoting generic homogeneity among people values distinction. It is the desire to be distinct which drives much consumerism. We are in a constant pursuit to be different than our neighbour, to have something no one else has, to have the "newest," "coolest," etc. The counter-culture only fosters such thinking.
The book also does an incredible job of tracing the roots of the development of the idea that there is an over-arching "System" imposing its will upon us and the rise of a "counter-culture" in the 60s and 70s. Nazism and propaganda, Marxism, and Freudian psychology all play an important part in these developments. One of the most illuminating thoughts from the books is simply that the idea that there is a "System" and a "Counter-culture" is simply accepted by most of us without reflection or critical thought. It has simply become the accepted world view. This book does a great job of asking the question: "Is this really so?" I also think the book does a great job of showing that it is not necessarily so and likely is not that way at all.
This is an incredible book and well worth reading. I am going to do more thinking regarding the counter culture and the "system." I think I will likely re-read the book one more time - partly because I enjoyed it so much - it is a FUN read as well.

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