Whooda Thunk?

“The whole idea that virtuous self-restraint on the part of corporations, or energy conservation on the part of consumers, must be a part of any solution to the problems of pollution is based on a fundamental confusion. The fact that we are always being urged to conserve energy is simply a sign that the price is too low. After all, the government doesn’t have to remind us to conserve coffee beans or molybdenum or wiper fluid or any of the other goods that we consume every day. Why not? Because when we consume these goods, the price that we pay reflects pretty much the entire cost that our consumption imposes upon society. In other words, when the price level is right, there is no need to encourage conservation.”

Nation of Rebels, p. 316

Why Cool Doesn’t Fit on the Assembly Line

“What eventually led to the undoing of these views was the failure to appreciate the competitive nature of our consumption and the significance of positional goods. Houses in good neighborhoods, tasteful furniture, fast cars, stylish restaurants and cool clothes are intrinsically scarce. We cannot manufacture more of them because their value is based on the distinction that they provide to consumers. Thus the idea of overcoming scarcity through increased productivity is incoherent; in our society, scarcity is a social, not a material, phenomenon.”

Nation of Rebels, p. 294

Becoming Thus a Major Part of Mass Society

“Nowhere is the temptation toward exoticism more evident—or more lucrative—than in the burgeoning ‘alternative medicine’ industry . . . ‘alternative’ medicine is big money . . . The concept of alternative medicine is essentially a byproduct of the critique of mass society”

Nation of Rebels, p. 278

You Can’t Escape the Disease When You Are the Carrier

“Because so much traveling is a quest for authenticity through difference, it quickly becomes yet another locus for competitive consumption . . . When it comes to exotic travel, hell is other Westerners . . . This competition for tourist spots—call it ‘competitive displacement’—has exactly the same structure as hip consumerism. This time, though, the prestigious property being sought is not the cool, but the exotic . . . As more visitors pile into the area, it becomes more ‘touristy,’ less exotic, which ruins it for the people who got there first . . . Thanks to their unceasing efforts at scouring the earth in search of ever more exotic locales, countercultural rebels have functioned for decades as the ‘shock troops’ of mass tourism”

Nation of Rebels, pp. 270-271

Weird White Guy Behavior

“From Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha to Carlos Castenada’s The Teachings of Don Juan, the countercultural rebels desperately longed for a way to opt out of Western civilization . . . The Tibetan Book of the Dead and the I Ching became the twin bibles of the emerging movement. The result was an enormous projection of countercultural longing and fantasy onto the non-Western world.”

Nation of Rebels, p. 255