Consumerism and capital’s use of science and technology to undercut democracy
in The capitalist mode of destruction
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This chapter explores how capital’s real subsumption of consumption, as well as its use of science and technology more generally, also undercuts democracy. It does so by paying special attention to the role the media play in this process. In particular, the chapter examines how the increasing dependence of the media on advertising skews their coverage to suit the sensibilities and interests of capitalist advertisers and of the affluent audiences these advertisers often target. This means that the dynamics of competition within an increasingly monopolistic capitalist system contributes in yet another way to the difficulty of perceiving the exploitative nature of capitalist society. In this respect, this chapter adds another dimension to classical Marxism’s account of the reasons that make exploitation in capitalist societies so hard to recognize. Finally, the chapter also discusses other ways that capital’s use of science and technology undercuts democracy. These include its adoption of technologies that confine large numbers of people to routine, repetitive jobs that do not encourage them to develop the skills and self-confidence necessary for effective political participation, as well as capital’s use of parts of the surplus to bankroll “scientific” research and lobbying campaigns designed to promote capitalist profit rather than our knowledge of the world.

The capitalist mode of destruction

Austerity, ecological crisis and the hollowing out of democracy

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