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Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The…

Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from The Baffler (1997)

by Thomas Frank (Editor), Thomas Frank (Introduction), Matt Weiland (Editor), Matt Weiland (Introduction)

Other authors: Steve Albini (Contributor), Bill Boisvert (Contributor), Jennifer Brostrom (Contributor), Edward Castleton (Contributor), Julia Druskin (Designer)13 more, Stephen Duncombe (Contributor), Gary Groth (Contributor), Chris Holmes (Contributor), Greg Lane (Introduction), Lewis Lapham (Foreword), Maura Mahoney (Contributor), Dave Mulcahey (Introduction), Dave Mulcahey (Contributor), Kim Phillips (Contributor), Jesse Marinoff Reyes (Cover designer), Tom Vanderbilt (Contributor), Keith White (Introduction), Keith White (Contributor)

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A series of essays whose titles tell the story. "The Rebel Consumer", "Consolidated Deviance Inc", "Alternative to What." Slightly older than a decade, this wonderful collection actually makes us long for the time when people pretended to be different. A good read. ( )
  cmeatto | Jan 6, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank, ThomasEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frank, ThomasIntroductionmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Weiland, MattEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Weiland, MattIntroductionmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Albini, SteveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boisvert, BillContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brostrom, JenniferContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castleton, EdwardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Druskin, JuliaDesignersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duncombe, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Groth, GaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holmes, ChrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lane, GregIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lapham, LewisForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mahoney, MauraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mulcahey, DaveIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mulcahey, DaveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, KimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reyes, Jesse MarinoffCover designersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vanderbilt, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, KeithIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, KeithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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the law stares across the desk out of angry eyes his face reddens in splotches like a gobbler's neck with the strut of the power of submachineguns sawedoffshotguns teargas and vommitgas the power that can feed you or leave you to starve.

sits easy at his desk his back covered he feels strong behind him he feels the prosecutingattorney the judge an owner himself the political boss the minesuperintendent the board of directors the president of the utility the manipulator of the holdingcompany

he lifts his hand toward the telephone

the deputies crowd in the door

we have only words against

--John Dos Passos, The Big Money
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Other than The Baffler, I can think of no American journal of opinion--leftist, new age, Ultra, post-modern, Jacobin, conservative, monarchist, evangelical, legitimist, new-gothic--that could credibly describe its essays and criticisms as "salvos."

The Business of Culture in the New Gilded Age

--quotation from cover
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393316734, Paperback)

In this thought-provoking collection of essays, editor Thomas Frank and other contributors to the contrarian journal the Baffler examine the unprecedented ascendancy of business as the dominating force in American life. If the closest historical parallel is with the Gilded Age and its all-powerful robber barons, Frank and his ilk clearly see themselves as the muckrakers out to expose the absurdities and abuses of big business. Today, however, advertising has come to permeate every aspect of our society, and corporations are in the business of manufacturing culture--what Frank calls the "Culture Trust." These essays analyze the ways in which this Culture Trust has co-opted the power of dissent by appropriating the language and symbolism of nonconformist youth culture, from hippie slang to grunge fashion; in other words, when the media markets rebellion, it becomes just another consumer choice. As evidence, the essayists explore the image of consumer as rebel pioneered by publications such as Details and Wired, as well as the preeminence of "revolutionary" business gurus such as Tom Peters. The result is a highly original book, a satirical and savage indictment of '90s consumerist culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In the "old" Gilded Age, the barons of business accumulated vast wealth and influence from their railroads, steel mills, and banks. But today it is culture that stands at the heart of the American enterprise, mass entertainment the economic dynamo that brings the public into the consuming fold and consolidates the power of business over the American mind. For a decade The Baffler has been the invigorating voice of dissent against these developments, in the grand tradition of the muckrakers and The American Mercury. This collection gathers the best of its writing to explore such peculiar developments as the birth of the rebel hero as consumer in the pages of Wired and Details; the ever-accelerating race to market youth culture; the rise of new business gurus like Tom Peters and the fad for Hobbesian corporate "reengineering"; and the encroachment of advertising and commercial enterprise into every last nook and cranny of American life. With its liberating attitude and cant-free intelligence, this book is a powerful polemic against the designs of the culture business on us all.… (more)

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