jeudi 12 mai 2011

Lebow


Même dans cette période d'ouverture universelle aux encyclopédies, il y a des individus sur lesquels les détails sont parfois rares. A l'heure où j'écris, Wikipedia n'a pas encore grand-chose sur Victor Lebow mais Google donne aussi cette page de blog qui en a plus.

Victor Lebow, né Liebowitz (1903-1980) serait un ancien chef d'entreprise (ancien vice-président de la compagnie de lingerie Chester H. Roth, Inc.) devenu ensuite consultant en marketing et en même temps activiste progressiste (il écrivait dans The Nation). Il est assez curieux qu'il ait été à la fois un professionnel du marketing et un critique du capitalisme contemporain. Il est devenu célèbre notamment pour ce passage presque marxiste de son article "Price Competition in 1955" (Journal of Retailing, Spring 1955) qui est devenu un lieu commun de la critique de la "Société de Consommation" (sur la célèbre vidéo écologiste de 2007 Story of Stuff) :

"Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and his individuality in terms of what he wears, drives, eats- his home, his car, his pattern of food serving, his hobbies.

These commodities and services must be offered to the consumer with a special urgency. We require not only “forced draft” consumption, but “expensive” consumption as well. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption. The home power tools and the whole “do-it-yourself” movement are excellent examples of “expensive” consumption.

What becomes clear is that from the larger viewpoint of our economy, the total effect of all the advertising and promotion and selling is to create and maintain the multiplicity and intensity of wants that are the spur to the standard of living in the United States. A specific advertising and promotional campaign, for a particular product at a particular time, has no automatic guarantee of success, yet it may contribute to the general pressure by which wants are stimulated and maintained. Thus its very failure may serve to fertilize this soil, as does so much else that seems to go down the drain.

Il écrivit ensuite un livre au titre tout aussi critique, Free Market: The Opium of the American People (1972). Mais il est possible que sa critique du capitalisme soit compatible avec une critique "(néo)conservatrice" comme celle du sociologue ex-trotskiste Daniel Bell (1919-2011), pour qui l'individualisme hédoniste court-termiste du libéralisme finit par ne plus favoriser mais contredire de l'intérieur l'esprit austère producteur du capitalisme, en une étrange synthèse de Weber et Marx.

1 commentaire:

  1. Un équivalent français serait le lien entre jacobinismes de droite et de gauche. Même souci de la déréliction moderne au gré des forces dissolvantes de l'argent.

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