Where It Went and Why It Left
“Where did all the personality go? The gusto? The glamour?”
In a laissez-faire economy, individuals are left with no other option but to innovate if economic success is their goal. Innovation requires independent and original thoughts and the willingness to take risks with those thoughts. A person must, in a word, be bold if he wishes to succeed. On the other hand, in a mixed economy – an economy composed partially of free elements and partially of government controls – the economy of today’s United States – innovation is not the only means of economic success. Another method is to become politically connected. To be perceived by, and defended as, “economically vital” by those with governmental power.
The reason why the “personality”, the “gusto”, and the “glamour” are gone (or at least disappearing) from American life? There is no economic incentive to develop these personality traits. Those with their antipodes – a love of tradition, of “safety”, or fear-driven mindless conformity to the conventional – are equally as capable of accruing (or retaining) material wealth as anyone is (probably more so).
This commercial may be inspiring to some because it appears to be a rejection of the false-alternative between being original and bold and being economically secure and professionally established – but that is only what it appears to be. What it actually is, however, is a usurpation of the viewing public’s legitimate (although usually subconscious) concern about the results of a mixed economy in order to get them to purchase an automobile.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with an individual wanting the automobile he owns to be a reflection of his philosophical beliefs. If he rejects the notion that life either has to be tradition-bound and wealthy or original and impoverished, to own an automobile that is both luxurious as well as daring in it’s performance or design can be a great way of expressing that (or, at least, reminding him of the propriety of his opposed belief should be find himself doubting it). But is that enough to actually reject the physical manisfestation (the mixed economy) of the view of life he rejects? Certainly not.
That requires an understanding of just what terms like “capitalism”, “socialism”, and “mixed economy” actually mean. If accepted, this commercial’s message, does precisely what needs to be done in order to make the development of such an understanding impossible (it ameliorates the emotion that should be attached to a concept – instead of a car – and thus takes away the incentive to investigate the conceptual root of that emotion) . Could it be that the makers of Cadillacs – General Motors – who also happen to be one of the most politically-connected, “blue-blooded” companies in the entire American economy – approved this commercial’s message not just for the reason already mentioned, but also to satisfy that concern – and thus deflect the public’s (justified) antipathy towards GM itself? In other words: “Let us get away with undermining your government, destroying your economy, and the larger parts of your life – in exchange for a car which makes you feel like that isn’t what’s happening.”
Perverting language, manipulating minds, exploiting pretentions and fears – instead of actually making a superior product (honestly, is a Cadillac really all that much different than a BMW, a Mercedes, a Lexus, a Lincoln)? That’s nothing new. That’s been done, for centuries, by those who would rather lick the boots of tyrants than stand up to them – and in the process sell their less powerful countrymen down the river. Where is the “gusto” in that?