Counter-Culture As The Engine Of Capitalism

The archives of David McRaney's blog on self delusion are well worth picking though. A post from April:

In the 1960s, it took months before someone figured out they could sell tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms to anyone who wanted to rebel. In the 1990s, it took weeks to start selling flannel shirts and Doc Martens to people in the Deep South. Now, people are hired by corporations to go to bars and clubs and predict what the counter culture is into and have it on the shelves in the cool stores right as it becomes popular.

The counter-culture, the indie fans and the underground stars – they are the driving force behind capitalism. They are the engine.

This brings us to the point – competition among consumers is the turbine of capitalism.

Thomas Frank tackled this subject in his first book, The Conquest of Cool.  Long excerpt here. Dan Geddes reviews:

Frank’s purpose is to demonstrate that Madison Avenue and consumption-based industries such as soda bottlers and men’s wear welcomed the counterculture, realizing that the cult of instant gratification would make the Baby Boomers better consumers than their thrifty parents. Frank even suggests that the Creative Revolution in advertising anticipated and in some ways precipitated the counterculture. Historians of the Sixties have long described the “co-optation” of the movement by the advertising industry: its use of countercultural symbols. Frank’s thesis that Madison Avenue’s critique of “mass society” predated later critiques of the countercultural can warm the hearts of critics of capitalism: That capitalism could could generate a critique of itself in order to fashion a more turbo-charged consumer becomes as satisfying as any conspiracy theory, especially in light of Frank’s meticulous scholarship.