College Curmudgeon 3bis

Is democracy consumerism, at least in the former’s modern form? Or is consumerism democracy? And what is their relation to celebrityism?

There is undoubtedly an academic somewhere who set all of this straight by proper definition and dialectic, but, of course, if there are two then resolution is impossible.

My parents used to tell me that they – their generation by extension – invented consumerism. That the poverty of the “Great Depression” instilled an urge to provide children with all the things they could not have. I never raised the argument that unless they knew they were missing something this urge would not occur.

But we may confidently observe that all of these came out of the “Great Depression” and the second “Great War.” And thus we also have to acknowledge that the argument presented previously that democratization of college led to its current bankruptcy is simplistic and incomplete.

As the Gomer character would say on the Andy Griffith television program, “Surprise, surprise!”

Just as we can argue that there is some strong coupling between consumerism and celebrityism, that as we have more goods we want more titillation and as we see more elite consumers, which is basically what celebrities are, we declaim that we should be able to consume as they do, so too may we argue that these have their impact on college, despite the fact that there are no college celebrities.

Celebrities do not do mundane things. Despite efforts in the last election campaign for chief executive and organized religion, plumbers and carpenters are not celebrities. Nor are philosophers and literarists, but the perception is that people with college degrees lead more glamorous, admired, and cunsumptive lives. And hence part of the demand for the democratization of college.

It is also attractive to consider that consumerism and celebrityism are self licking ice cream cones. Which may have some relation to the growing perception that college is not really a road to consumption and notoriety but to sameness and drudgery.