The Market

By Saswat Pattanayak

Real man Farhan Akhtar prevents violence against women on behalf
of the Delhi Police, Al Gore makes millions to save the planet from temperature
gain, Amnesty International recruits Peter Gabriel to be their conscience,
Aishwarya Rai counters Polio and HIV/AIDS, Unicef heralds Aamir Khan as the
expert on child rights, and Narendra Modi hires Amitabh Bachchan to spread
‘Khushbu Gujarat Ki’.

And we lesser mortals, legends in our own minds, emulate our
stars and wait for our moment to go viral on Facebook and Youtube, while these
corporations churn out billions in our name via offering us a supposedly free
platform. Even Michael Moore, the multimillionaire activist, sells a few more
copies at the Left Forum. Rape won’t happen again, wail our criminal leaders on
our television screens; while gives us a marketable online page to
cry justice.

From activisms against capitalism to advocacies by corporations,
from revolutions on the streets to enactments on the television sets, from
underground coalitions of committed comrades to publicized hobnobbing of social
media elites – the nature of agitations has probably undergone radical
transformations in recent years. From tactical opposition against brand
positioning, to using marketing as a tactic in the struggle – the organizing
principles of movements have perhaps witnessed drastic shifts. From teach-ins
of topical significance, mass sloganeering across college campuses and
independent publications from the basements, to the dying library culture,
thriving business of institutionalized coaching and emergence of the big media
– the character of education has, of late, seen systemic revisions.

Individualistic values were traditionally attached to marketing
strategies that lured the consumers into choosing between options. Now even the
collective values are being marketed rather profitably. This near complete
synthesis under the auspices of marketing is the mark of capitalism – well
received, embraced, and adapted to, in our times.

One could argue that capitalism transcending all barriers and
uniting us in our greed is supposed to be a good thing. After all, until this
stage is reached, there would be no way to successfully combat its ills so that
a higher stage of human development can be aspired for. What one merely wishes
for is a sufficient critique of this synthesis during our times that can
translate into, and bring alive the spirit of organized dissent. For when Bob
Dylan went electric, there had erupted endless controversies; today, he
endorses Oris luxury watch without even a glitch.

Maybe then we have to stop looking at the chosen few individuals
for answers, subsumed as they have been under, and also benefiting from, the
marketing diaspora. Maybe the climate of a universal superstore that sets the capitalistic
standards of success and fame should be allowing us to think beyond it. The
world of marketing has already done its job. Maybe its time we started doing
ours – by imagining a new world, a hype-less society whose tireless activists
need no corporate endorsements, no mass approvals, no mention in the weekly
lists of bestsellers, no official state recognitions, no standing ovations at
mega award events.

Better still, perhaps such folks, the flag-bearers of an
alternative world, the proletarian heroes, the working class agitators, the
unsung poets are already in our midst. And, we fail to notice them time and
again, enamored as we are by the layers of seductive marketing – deluded by the
promises from the visible, hypnotized by the cheerleaders of the exploiters,
and beguiled by the antidepressants prescribed in the form of reassuring words
of our false gods. We oftentimes fail to notice that the agents of oppressions
can creatively manipulate their subjects to relish a higher degree of degradation,
given that it happens with greater tacit participations of those that they
oppress, and in the process, manufacture a coterie of luminaries that
convincingly speak to the grateful lot of us on behalf of our benevolent


What we need to do then, is to unmask the majority hype,
recognize the minority dissent, and replace the entire system. Lock, stock, and

(For Kindle Magazine)


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