Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole

Benjamin R. Barber, Author . Norton $26.95 (406p) ISBN 978-0-393-04961-9

Barber returns to the clashing models of civilization of his earlier Jihad vs. McWorld , focusing this time on the expanding global culture of market forces he claims will destory not only democracy but even capitalism, if left unchecked. He warns of a totalitarian "ethos of induced childishness" that not only seeks to turn the young into aggressive consumers but to arrest the psychological development of adults as well, "freeing" them to indulge in puerile and narcissistic purchases based on "stupid" brand loyalties. The increasing drive toward privatization compounds the problem, generating a "civic schizophrenia" where everybody wants service but nobody wants to serve. His complaint is so broad that it occasionally edges into crankiness, as he blames infantilization for ruining everything from Hollywood movies to NBA basketball; even other liberal cultural commentators, especially Steven Johnson (Everything Bad Is Good for You ), come in for much criticism. Barber recognizes that the "Jihadist" rejection of consumer culture is equally undemocratic, but still believes the system can be changed from within, citing the corporate responsibility movement and activist boycotts. His dense analysis can be a tough slog in spots, but the provocative attacks on capitalism's excesses will resonate with many. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Paperback - 406 pages - 978-0-393-33089-2
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-393-07039-2
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