On consumer culture and the media (from pages 108–09):

 

.... Atomists point to the spread of consumer culture as a sign that their vision taps into human nature.  In other words, atomism lurks in the soul of every Congolese pygmy and Kazakh tribesman, waiting only to be awakened by freedom and bright lights.  Rhetoric suggests the lifestyle of liberal media culture is winning, “internalized in the remotest places.”  Even backlashes like the “tradition-mongering” of fundamentalists are just a “thrashing about” by ideologues who know they have lost.  Because youth in Iran have a fascination with the West, this reasoning goes, they must see the “absurdity” of the Islamic state.  Human nature, hearteningly atomist whenever it shows signs of sordidness, surges up in a million moments of individual resistance against a dying traditional order.  In a similar vein, many Chinese liberal intellectuals enjoy the “hooligan literature” of novelist Wang Shuo.  In an “æsthetics of debauchery,” Wang’s works celebrate the dark side of lower-class life among “happy-go-lucky cynics.”  Across world regions, the shift of emphasis over the last three decades is unmistakable.  Unlike earlier atomists, who used equal opportunity and civic piety as their bridge to plain folk, today’s atomists now purvey their vision as a mass release from constraint, as the crass libertinism that Hollywood so well embodies.  Tradition no longer mainly keeps people down; rather, it dampens the hedonism built into human nature....

 

 

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