Duck! and Gather: Podcast, Predictions, & Analysis

... for the money has gone too far.

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The Corporate Cult

Today's New York Times Magazine featured story on "Word-of-Mouth agents" is so compelling to me, I'm have difficulty finishing it. Here is my next take: this dynamic is the '00s cult. In the '50s, the emergence of science as the savior of America -- see, e.g., atom bombs and the polio vaccine -- gave rise to the cult of Scientology. In the '60s, the emergence of Eastern mysticism as wisdom in America -- see, e.g. the Beatles in India and the Esalen Institute -- resulted in the Hari Krishna cult. And now, in the '00s, Corporate dominance of all that we see, hear, feel, and taste has resulted in the Cult of Corporations. In this cult, the Word-of-Mouth agents serve as the core faithful. What is a cult? One thing in common among the earlier cults is that they were pervasive systems of belief to which the faithful adhered. The faithful, infused with the sense of being the "chosen people", awoke to find their formerly dull lives illuminated by singular meaning, their formerly pedestrian personalities transformed into passionate proselytizing, their views of non-believers turned substantially dark, and their admiration of leaders turned reverent. Sure, this formula describes "born-again evangelicals" too (and, perhaps also, the '90s dot coms, the Red Sox Nation and the Dean Campaign, for that matter). But at least Scientology, Hari Krishna, and Evangelical Christianity all stake a claim in the transcendent. Who would have guessed that money-worshipping fictional-person Corporations could generate the same sort of disturbance in humanity? The apocalypse is surely upon us. Read the story. p.s. I just finished the article, and sure enough, in the third-to-last paragraph, the author says the magic word: "cult".

[posted: 12/05/04]

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