Ideological State Apparatuses, Consumerism, and U.S. Capitalism: Lessons for the Left
Althusser’s pioneering concept of ‘‘ideological state apparatuses’’ is extended to the unique role of consumerism as a particular ideology enabling and supporting U.S. capitalism. It is argued that rising levels of worker consumption have functioned effectively to compensate workers for (and thereby allow) rising rates of exploitation and their negative social effects. For such compensation to succeed requires that workers embrace an ideology stressing the importance of consumption--namely, consumerism. It is argued that the weakness of the U.S. left (in labor unions, parties, and movements) stems in part from having endorsed this consumerism rather than undermining it within the framework of an anticapitalist politics.
The full article is available in the PDF below.
Visit Professor Wolff's social movement project, democracyatwork.info.
Permission to reprint Professor Wolff's writing and videos is granted on an individual basis. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request permission. We reserve the right to refuse or rescind permission at any time.