Those Darn Other People

“Whenever you look at the list of consumer goods that (according to the critic) people don’t really need, what you invariably see is a list of consumer goods that middle-aged intellectuals don’t need . . . consumerism, in other words, always seems to be a critique of what other people buy.”

Nation of Rebels, p. 105

Including the Distinction of Not Caring About Distinction

“In other words, it’s the nonconformists, not the conformists, who are driving consumer spending. This observation is one that anyone working in advertising will find crushingly obvious. Brand identity is all about product differentiation; it’s about setting the product apart from others. People identify with brands because of the distinction that they confer”

Nation of Rebels, pp. 103-104

Shrink Wrapped Rebellion

‘They identify consumerism with conformity. As a result, they fail to notice that it is rebellion, not conformity, that has for decades been the driving force of the marketplace . . . what if countercultural rebellion, rather than being a consequence of intensified consumerism, were actually a contributing factor?”

Nation of Rebels, p. 99

Because the Feminists Tore Down Chesterton’s Fence

“For example, during the 60’s, many of the social norms that governed relationships between the sexes came under sustained criticism. Traditional male ‘gallantry’ involved showing a somewhat exaggerated concern for the health and well-being of women: opening doors for them, offering them one’s coat during inclement weather, paying for their meals, and so forth. Feminism argued that these norms, far from helping women, served only to reinforce the conviction that they were helpless and unable to care for themselves . . . Men took the criticism of the older male obligations as a license to do whatever they wanted. This gave rise to the widely noted epidemic of boorishness (or, as the English like to say, ‘yobbishness’) in the male population. Rather than finding alternative ways of expressing concern and respect for women, a lot of men have simply stopped paying any attention to the needs of women at all. For these men, equality means ‘I look after myself, she looks after herself’”

Nation of Rebels, p. 80

When Dissent Isn’t

“We must distinguish, in other words, because dissent and deviance. Dissent is like civil disobedience. It occurs when people are willing in principles to play by the rules but have a genuine, good-faith objection to the specific content of the prevailing set of rules. They disobey despite the consequences that these actions may incur. Deviance, on the other hand, occurs when people disobey the rules for self-interested reasons”

Nation of Rebels, pp. 79-80

Almost as Good as Living in Her Basement

“They were romantic individualists who valued self-reliance and were possessed of a grand contempt for mass society. As Thoreau, who is best known for spending two years ‘roughing it’ in a cabin on Walden Pond (his mother actually brought him regular meals and did his washing), famously wrote, ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.’”

Nation of Rebels, p. 69