>... the modern manufacturer has to “educate” the masses in the culture of consumption. The mass production of commodities in every-increasing abundance demands a mass market to absorb them.
>In the period of primitive accumulation, capitalism subordinated being to having, the use value of commodities to their exchange value. Now it subordinates possession itself to appearance and measures exchange value as a commodity’s capacity to confer prestige—the illusion of prosperity and well-being.
>In a simpler time, advertising merely called attention to the product and extolled its advantages. Now it manufactures a product of its own: the consumer, perpetually unsatisfied, restless, anxious, and bored. It “educates” the masses into an unappeasable appetite not only for goods but for new experiences and personal fulfillment.
>Consumption promises to fill the aching void; hence the attempt to surround commodities with an aura of romance; with allusions to exotic places and vivid experiences; and with images of female breasts from which all blessings flow.
>The apparatus of mass promotion attacks ideologies based on the postponement of gratification; it allies itself with sexual “revolution”; it sides or seems to side with women against male oppression and with the young against the authority of their elders. The logic of demand creation requires that women smoke and drink in public, move about freely, and assert their right to happiness instead of living for others. The advertising industry thus encourages the pseudo-emancipation of women, flattering them with its insinuating reminder, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” and disguising the freedom to consume as genuine autonomy.
>Similarly it flatters and glorifies youth in the hope of elevating young people to the status of full-fledged consumers in their own right, each with a telephone, a television set, and a hi-fi in his own room. The “education” of the masses has altered the balance of forces within the family, weakening the authority of the husband in relation to the wife and parents in relation to their children. It emancipates women and children from patriarchal authority, however, only to subject them to the new paternalism of the advertising industry, the industrial corporation, and the state.
I've started reading The Culture of Narcissism and I must say it's an eye opener, not necessarily because it says things I haven't suspected before but because it states them so concisely. Written in 1979, how much does it describe today's society?