In a recent conversation with a friend I realized that modern culture—in particular the American culture due to its wealth and addiction to proselytizing other cultures—maintains an inverse and disproportionate relationship between production and the consequences of production. The more productive one is, the less they are held responsible for the consequences and collateral damage of their production; the less productive one is, the more they are held responsible for failing to compulsorily produce. This is how status and consumption have become inextricable in modern culture.
The production machine has developed many tentacles—public relations, economics, fashion, politics, relativism, rhetoric, entitlement, racism, height-ism, sexism, and manipulation of history, to name some. As with all effects though, these are merely indicators of the system’s existence, not prerequisite’s for its existence. It could’ve developed any number of ways, depending upon the culture’s collective values, economics, and entitlements. Hence, social milieu is a key determinant in its development.
But it goes deeper than that. In order for the production machine to thrive, the collective majority must be naturally inclined toward a concrete reward system (money), social status (reputation, title, social obligation), and, as the modern philosopher Parker Kristhoffer puts it, psychological amnesia. These characteristics are actually the majority’s incentives for participating in the production machine, which makes it a self-feeding system because it directly taps into what the concrete majority is naturally inclined toward. This is not to say they are naturally purposed or destined toward it, it just means that it naturally (therefore easily) makes sense to them, and therefore overshadows that other alternatives and rewards systems can and do exist. Philosophers and economists know incentives very well, and agree that concrete individuals will replace their moral values for the production machine’s collective values if the incentives are too tempting to resist. Where philosophers pull ahead is they take the next step, judging this morality replacement as detrimental not just to the individual, but to the very collective that is convinced it’s doing the right thing.
Click the RSS FEED button below to receive notification of new essays.