September 29, 2011

The Eminently Real Free Market (XXXVIII): Sketchy Stories (26): The Corporation as “Sociopath” (3)

Not being a man to let his ignorance on any subject hold him back, Mr. Ferrara then decides to attack “corporate advertising” with a zeal that would have made the late John Kenneth Galbraith blush.
. . . shielded from censorship by the courts, . . . [corporate advertising] has created an entire mass culture of “happiness” through the satisfaction of an ever-expanding catalogue of stimulated desires. Here the Austrians argue that the advertising on which corporations spend billions has no influence on human will but merely provides “information,” and that consumers besieged by commercial messages from infancy “freely” choose every single thing they buy, including goods and services that waste vast amounts of their time, addict them, ruin their health, corrupt their morals, and kill both body and soul. (26)
If Mr. Ferrara does not favor “censorship [of advertising] by the courts,” he should not have mentioned it, thereby putting that unhappy thought in the reader’s head. If he does favor such censorship, however, he should have said so plainly. But then, that’s only one of ten ideas he decided to throw into that one sentence. That’s what propagandists do.
No Austrian ever said that advertising has no influence on human will and, of course, Mr. Ferrara, our arbiter of waste, morals, health, and happiness, doesn’t cite any.
All information conveyed in advertising, whether relevant or irrelevant to making a sound judgment about the product or service, influences the recipient. What a person does with that information will depend on his or her moral development, background knowledge, etc. We choose as we please, but rarely (if ever) please as we please, for as we form habits, seeking or resisting God’s grace, the effective range of choice for each of us narrows.
But however constricted that range may be, it is never zero. That is, behaviorism is not true, and no Christian should give credence to that ideology, as Mr. Ferrara’s anti-advertising tirade implicitly does.

To Be Continued