It seems as though the world has been oversaturated with 'infants' of late. Or at the very least, those who have been 'infantilized.'
Of course, this thesis is not a novel one. Philosophers and 'commodity aesthetics' theoriticians like Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, and Guy Debord have been writing about this and related subject matter for years now. And as previously noted, even Czech animator Jan Švankmajer has recently chimed in on the subject by taking Walt Disney Corporation to task and calling Walt Disney a 'destroyer of European culture.' Oddly and coincidently, a Tory politician once 'branded' Throbbing Gristle 'wreckers of civilization.' The aforementioned according to the July 2007 issue of The Wire magazine.
Meanwhile, in Craig Heimbichner's scathing attack on Thelema and the OTO (amongst a 'whole host' of other things), titled Blood on the Altar: The Secret History of the World's Most Dangerous Secret Society, he writes: We are in a universal lapse into a state of immaturity, a true indicator that we are in some sort of “era of the child.” This quote was extracted from a section of the book titled: The Wizards of Oz. It's worth reading the reader's comments section at length, as some interesting personages (ie Peter-Robert Koeing and Adam Parfrey) add their 'two cents' to the discussion.
At any 'rate,' Benjamin R. Barber's book should prove to be a welcomed addition to this critical body of work. Perhaps Fukuyama's 'End of History' hasn't come to pass after all. I should certainly hope not. At this point, we need all the help we can get. There aren't enough nannies to go around apparently.
Barber, the Gershon and Carol Kekst Professor of Civil Society at the University of Maryland, has devoted much of his life to the study of the effects of the consumer market on individuals and society as a whole. His hypothesis that consumer culture has turned adult citizens into children by catering to the lowest common denominator rings only too true, even if the sheer density and obsequiousness of this examination are likely to turn off much of the popular readership. Therein lies the conundrum of reviewing this impressive piece of work, wherein Barber proves his theory that the market imperative has conditioned us to lap up the easy offerings and reject hard, complicated works. This lifelong study of the effects of capitalism and privatization reveals a pervasiveness of branding and homogenization from which there is seemingly no turning back. With the call to arms of grassroots resistance, he does offer a glimmer of hope; despite the heavy weight, Barber's work deserves and surely will find its audience. David Siegfried