Is hyper-consumerism hurting our democracy?

03/05/08 Robert Lorei
Radioactivity: Live Call-In (Wednesday) | Listen to this entire show: says of our next guest: "In his new book Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults and Swallow Citizens Whole, (Benjamin R.) Barber argues that American youth culture has metastasized, infecting society as a whole with a bad case of Peter Pan syndrome, an induced childishness easily manipulated by ideologies of privatization, branding, and homogenized tastes.

This phenomenon of "kidults" and "rejuveniles" gathers steam even as the country's population skews older and older, he adds.

Back in the 20th century, Barber says, when American capitalism ceased supplying real demands with tangible products, our economic system began developing insatiable needs of its own, building a creature that requires ever-increasing consumption in order to survive. As a result, he says, we're living in a world precisely calibrated to promote non-stop shopping by short-circuiting mature thinking.

From the simplistic, political theatrics of Ann Coulter to the Hummer driver unwittingly spurring on war in the Middle East, Consumed details how we're feeling the pernicious spillover effects of a population which has ceased seeing itself as a group of active citizens and instead thinks of itself as gang of passive consumers."

An internationally renowned political theorist, Dr. Barber consults regularly with political and civic leaders in the United States and Europe. He writes frequently for publications such as Harper's, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and others. The Barber blog STRONGDEMOCRACY can be found on the Huffington post and Barber's personal website can be found at

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