The Frankfurt School predecessor and Marxist author Walter Benjamin was fascinated by the curious transformations of capitalism from the mid-to-late 1800s, when Marx wrote, to the early 20th century of Benjamin’s day.
In the industrial era Marx observed, commodities were primarily viewed as raw materials and basic goods. Marx focused on production. By Benjamin’s time commodities had been transformed into “objects of consumption.” Objects of desire, in other words.
Benjamin had discovered something: consumerism had been born as a primary driver of capitalist production. Commodity fetishism had fundamentally changed, coming to resemble the consumption-driven manias we see today.
Benjamin’s biographer called the evolving commodity fetishism, “a delusional expression of collective utopian fantasies and longings.”
With the advent of advertising, consumer packaged goods lifted capitalism to new heights. Benjamin witnessed a sea-change. And yet what has happened since Benjamin’s death in 1940 has been nearly as convulsive as that which the German philosopher saw.
The pandemic has illustrated the value of two very basic functions of modern consumer capitalism that evolved after Benjamin: one is planned obsolescence and the other is artificial need. The former is most evident in the cycle of vaccinations that have descended on the population.
First, it was two doses of a single vaccine. Once it was shown that protection waned quickly, and the vaccine neither prevented infection nor provided enduring immunity–both promised by authorities in the run-up to the rollout–a further booster shot was introduced.
In some cases, Israel for example, two boosters were recommended, the final one belatedly shown to be barely effective.
Big Pharma likely knew this was going to happen. The other vaccine targeting a respiratory virus, the flu shot, provides only modest protection. Non-sterilizing vaccines are said to wane rapidly in their efficacy for a variety of reasons.
Some would also argue that these vaccines have created an artificial need as well, for healthy people. The overall Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) is less than one percent, raising the question of why there has been such a push to immunize the world against such a mild respiratory virus.
Big Pharma was well aware of this, too, but happily sponsored mainstream media stories that ratcheted up popular fears to the level of hysteria and mass hypochondria.