99 Francs - Forced consumption

Here is a little video from a French film which I uploaded to my blog. WP thought it was worth posting here. The title '99 Francs' refers to the commercial habit of offering prices like $ 9.99, instead of $ 10.

A little context: Octave works in an advertising agency. He comes up with a pretty funny idea for a commercial, but it's shot down by the representative of the company selling the product. So he does a dumb commercial instead, the usual crap you see everyday. But inside, he can't stand this shit. So, he works in collusion with the director of the dumb commercial, who is also pissed off because of the crap he had to shoot, and creates another version. And, Octave has a man working inside Channel 1, to hijack the airwaves and broadcast that very version. The extract starts as he is preparing to leave to nowhere, before it all explodes.

The video's there. [Couldn't upload it anywhere else than on my blog. Copyrights I suppose.]

I'm in the course of reading a very interesting anarchist book, whose chapter drafts are available for free here. It's called "Organization Theory" and will soon be released. Some of its passages are mind-boggling. Here's one that resonates with George Carlin's bit about how people are owned by big corporations:
Illich's mistake lies in his confusion over who the actual consumer is. Counterproductivity is not a "negative internality," but the negative externality of others' subsidized consumption. The "disappointment" is not internal to the act of consumption, because the real "consumer" is the party who profits from the adoption of a technology beyond the second threshold--as opposed to the ostensible consumer, who may have no choice but to make physical use of the technology in his daily life. The real consumer is the party for whose sake the system exists; the ostensible consumer who is forced to adjust to the technology is simply a means to an end. In the case of all of the "modern institutions" Illich discusses, the actual consumer is the institutions themselves, not their captive clientele. In the case of the car culture, for example, the primary consumer is the real estate industry and the big box stores--not the poor schmuck who lives in a monoculture suburb and can't buy a loaf of bread without hopping in his car to negotiate the freeway-mediated system of entrance and exit checkpoints. The inconvenience suffered by the suburban homeowner, whose feet, bicycle, etc., are rendered useless as a source of access to shopping and work, is an externality resulting from the real estate industry's subsidized consumption of cheap roads, fuel, and utilities, from zoning prohibitions of mixed-use development, and from preferential treatment of suburban developments by home mortgage subsidies. Rather than saying that "society" suffers a net cost or is enslaved to a new technology, it is more accurate to say that the nonprivileged portion of society becomes enslaved to the privileged portion and pays increased costs for their benefit. Or as Lewis Mumford put it, the "megamachine" is "a minority-manipulated majority-manipulating device...."

The larger theme of the book seems to be that large organizations are too costly to maintain, and it would be much 'better' to have cooperatives of self-employed workers. For instance, the higher production of factories is over-shadowed by the higher cost of distribution of a mountain of units destined for the national (and sometimes global) economy, the higher cost of management, the higher cost of advertising. Cooperatives of self-employed workers in a local economy that is dependent on consumer demand drastically lowers (and sometimes erases) those costs, which explains why globalization is actually a waste/plunder. Profit through large-scale production is only possible when the cost of distribution is subsidized by the state.

An illustration of this happened not too long ago, when big capitalists threatened to leave India if something wasn't done regarding its road infrastructure. That is, distributing their products threatened to become too costly, so they dumped the bill on Indians instead of providing the money themselves.

In other words they make profit at our expense.


Was watching C-SPAN2 again

Was watching C-SPAN2 again and I forget who it was speaking, but one of the pro-War in Afghanistan propagandists, and he was describing the people. He showed a slide of man and then claimed how poor he was, LIVING off of $250 a year! And this is why we must invade them. To change that. An American or many others around the world couldn't live for a week on that amount, let alone a year. And the man most likely also had a family he was supporting. Nothing was said about whether he farmed his own food, raised his own livestock, etc. Just that he was poor because he only 'made' $250 a year. Shit...if they'd let me grow food here or raise some livestock, I imagine I could live a lot 'poorer' than I already do too, but that's not what the PTB want. And of couse, there's no mention of how happy this man might be, how content he is, how close the family might be, how not-fat-as-hell he might be, etc. It's all about the $$$. Makes me sick.

Thanks for the comment.

Thanks for the comment. Indeed, what you described is very revealing. The dollar as a tool to measure one's happiness...

Another point you can make is that prices are probably much lower in Afghanistan, so that the seemingly incredible difference from our perspective is pretty much irrelevant from an Afghan perspective.


Good post, Littlehorn. Thanks. Yes, to exert a little control means applying ever increasing amounts of control and ever increasing force to impose it requiring ever increasing government regulation. Bit like an addiction really!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.