- Tapa dura: 321 páginas
- Editor: Riverhead Books,U.S. (31 de diciembre de 1998)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 1573221155
- ISBN-13: 978-1573221153
Detalles del producto
But he hasn't turned into a pessimist; he still thinks we can break the cycle, and this book is supposed to help us do it. And given his subject, he writes with a refreshing lack of paranoia: he's well aware that all of these techniques are (a) based on common features of "human nature" that ordinarily serve us just fine, and (b) used all the time, to some degree, by all of us. "We are all coercers," he says," and we are all coerced."
As you read the book, it will help to be aware of something Rushkoff doesn't actually get around to explaining until his closing chapter: by "coercion" he means the sort of "persuasion" that is intended to make it difficult or impossible for us to exercise our better judgment -- as distinguished from genuine, no-scare-quotes persuasion, which engages our reason rather than trying to short-circuit it. Bear that in mind if you think -- as I initially did -- that he's confusing coercion and persuasion.
What he's actually talking about is what people of approximately my generation would at one time have called a "mind-cop." (That term, by the way, has very nearly the same literal meaning as "geneivat da'at," or "stealing the mind" -- a term used in Jewish law for certain sorts of deception.) I assume no reader of this page will need me to explain that there's something ethically wrong with such practices, even though they fall short of physical force or the threat thereof. Indeed, by my lights, the sort of thing Rushkoff writes about, being a violation of the integrity of the mind, seems somehow _more_ wrong than the "initiation of force."
At any rate the subject should be of interest to a wide range of readers. I'll single out two kinds: (1) readers interested in the psychology of judgment and decision-making (and see Scott Plous's excellent book of that title for a good introduction), and (2) law students. (Yes, law students. It's relevant to all sorts of questions that arise in the study of the law: How are juries persuaded? When may a contract be rescinded? Why does the law protect stuff like "brand identities" and "public images"?)
Rushkoff's discussion covers a pretty wide range of methods, from advertising to PR, from "atmospherics" to pyramid schemes. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to draw parallels between, for example, CIA interrogation techniques and Nazi rallies, on the one hand, and sales techniques on the other, _without_ making you feel as though he's pushing a wild-eyed conspiracy theory. The narrative is also peppered with on-point personal anecdotes, and his passages on "cults" are downright spine-tingling. (And if you've ever felt a little funny about the popularity of Dale Carnegie's famous book, you'll like what Rushkoff has to say about it.)
Above all, don't make the mistake of dismissing Rushkoff as a "leftist" (as he says has happened to him). The political division between "right" and "left" is so malleable as to be almost meaningless. The relevant political division is between authoritarians/corporatists/statists and libertarians/populists, and Rushkoff is firmly in the anti-"authoritarian" camp. He's under no illusion that the government is going to Protect Us From All This; indeed some of his own examples demonstrate just the opposite. He's out to free us, not find a new way to enslave us.
Rushkoff's musings on the nature of "coercion" should also lead us to reflect on the nature of the "free market." According to libertarians (including me), the "free market" is simply the society that results when people respect each other's rights/integrity and engage one another only in voluntary relationships. But can a relationship based on "coercion," based on getting the other person to exercise something less than his or her best judgment, indeed based on anything less than full disclosure and fully informed consent, really be called voluntary?
If not, then the old Roman-law-based "caveat emptor" standard doesn't belong in the _real_ free market, and a very great deal of what we've been _told_ is the "free market" is really something else. A genuinely free market, in which all "exchanges" were truly informed and voluntary, would be communitarian rather than corporate-statist -- less, that is, like the military-industrial complex and more like a Grateful Dead concert ;-).
Anyway, Rushkoff's book is very nicely done, and bound to appeal to those of us who think we're skilled in the art of "crap detecting" -- a phrase I first encountered nearly thirty years ago in the brilliant _Teaching as a Subversive Activity_, by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. If you've read that book, or even if you just like the title, you'll like Rushkoff as well.
Basically, Rushkoff provides numerous examples in each category of how individuals and organizations take advantage of the psychology of human beings. For example, we are more easily persuaded if we regress to when we were younger (and more susceptible to appeals to authority), transfer our feelings to an authority, or listen to certain music or smell certain smells (e.g., bake bread when trying to sell your home).
All told, this book will help the reader to better deconstruct the capitalistic environment that is built on persuasion or coercion of some sort. I also recommend the "Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert Cialdini. Read Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" for a trenchant analysis of the rise of television (and its iatrogenic effects).
Rushkoff offers insights from his own consulting career, revealing that issues aren't as simplistic or ideologically pure as is sometimes portrayed (the 'response to critics' and 'juicy inside gossip' hot-buttons).
The index and bibliography are well worth pursuing, including Philip Kotler's seminal 'atmospherics in shopping malls/casinos' work, Noam Chomsky's de-construction of thought control in 'democratic' societies, Peter Watson and Christopher Simpson's review of psychological warfare techniques used on domestic populations (car salespeople using CIA interrogation manuals to increase sales), or Robert Dilt's study of the neurological basis of NLP (the 'appeal to authority', 'appeal to power', and 'appeal to specialist, esoteric areas' hot-buttons).
In an escalating arms race, it's no longer just persuasion (Vance Packard) or influence (Robert B. Cialdini), but coercion. Buy a copy for yourself and one for your friends! (the 'if all else fails, make the buyer feel fearful' hot-button).
Have I coerced you into pressing 'buy' yet?