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America's Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe campaign that unfolds in Irresistible Empire, Victoria de Grazia's brilliant account of.
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- Irresistible Empire
- Irresistible Empire - Victoria de Grazia - Paperback () » Bokkilden
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Irresistible Empire - Victoria de Grazia - Paperback () » Bokkilden
OriginRobert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the Guggenh.. European consumption patterns continued in some respects to be restrained by these older practices and customs. This stance corresponds to a kind of aesthetic consumption which combined show with restraint.
Initially, those values were connected to a skewed system that rationed education and restricted upward mobility. What makes European cities so interesting and livable is that the State has converted the buildings and grounds of the upper classes into public spaces, regulation controls excessive concentrations in urban cores and public transportation systems keep the cores viable.
Very few American cities have managed this feat. There still is a palpable reluctance in Europe to permit commodification to penetrate all spheres of life.
All these achievements may be seen as limited, as secondary, made possible only by the regulatory state, a reflection of a limited provincial perspective, the survival of scorned 19 th century nationalisms. Yet they should not be ignored for they point to a powerful fact: the survival in Europe of deep feelings about preserving and improving the public character of life. This lies behind lingering sentiments for socialism and nationalism.
Indeed both the recent anti-EU votes, and the widespread anguish about them, show us polities caught between their desire to maintain a distance from the failed past and their fear that in creating a new Europe they will become too much like the society USA it is meant to hold at bay. This sense of being trapped in history is prevalent.
An organized system of production requires an organized system of consumption. As productive systems become more efficient, the question of how to distribution becomes acute, especially how to avoid over-production and under-consumption. They were false hopes. Yet de Grazia devotes merely a page to socialist cooperativism distribution through consumer-owned stores in Belgium. She dismisses the economic planning of the Popular Front government in France as a failure. And although she duly notes that Sweden was the only European country that kept pace with American income growth rates before WWII, she ignores Swedish experiments in garden cities and consumer cooperatives.
She prefers to focus instead on the hideous Nazi regime to underline her point that American style capitalism was the only real alternative. In the end, de Grazia simply misunderstands the triumph of American consumerist capitalism, remaining silent about the strategic investments—the expensive conduct of a Cold War—that underwrote the project.
This is more than a minor academic nuance. Entrepreneurial capitalism simply appropriated this cultural space bending it to its own end. Printer Friendly Format. Logos 4.