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Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture

Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture
Author: Joseph Heath - Andrew Potter
ISBN 13: 9780060745868
ISBN 10: 6074586
Edition: First U.S. Edition, Later
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Publication Date: 2004-12-14
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
List Price: $14.99

As the counterculture hippies evolved into yuppies and traded their Volkswagen Beetles in for gas-guzzling SUVs, they were not selling out; they were merely following the natural path laid out for them by the core assumptions of the counterculture. So argue Heath (philosophy, U. of Toronto, Canada) and Potter (philosophy, Trent U., Canada) in this work of cultural criticism that attacks the theory of society they believe underlie countercultural ideas. Ideas about the psychological oppression of the individual by organized society articulated by figures like Herbert Marcuse, the "society of the spectacle" decried by the French situationists, and others identified by the authors as part of the counterculture milieu are criticized and blamed for devolving into empty protest that ironically may serve to undermine efforts toward greater justice for exploited groups. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Publishers Weekly

So-called rebellion not only perpetuates the market economy, it's the economy's biggest driving factor. So argue Canadian philosophy professors Heath and Potter; in their world, you can't "sell out" or be "co-opted," because you're already participating in the market, where rebellion is just another word for relentless innovation, fashion and cool. With sharp humor, the two make a solid case for consumerism being motivated by competitiveness rather than conformity, while pointing out the hypocrisies and shortcomings of "alternative" lifestyles, like the fascination with ancient non-Western medicine as somehow nobler and purer than modern science. Their theoretical underpinnings range from critiques of Freud to French postmodernism, and they layer their philosophical arguments with personal experience (though the use of "I" without identifying the writer as either Heath or Potter becomes irritating). The authors tear into veterans of the '60s counterculture repeatedly, and blaming the "all or nothing" approach of would-be radicals who drop out for holding back progress. The arguments are familiar, but Heath and Potter's sustained scrutiny of the premises from a market perspective freshens them. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.