I.The notion of ethical marketing
II. Analyze of marketing’s impact on individual and collective psychology with Bernard Stiegler’s work
III. Difficulties and opportunities to implement a transindividuation-friendly marketing
- Lexic of non-english words
II. Analyze of marketing's impact on individual and collective psychology with Bernard Stiegler's work
- 2.1Foundation of Bernard Stiegler's work: Indetermination of technique, pharmacology and organology
2.2Behavior sciences and marketing co-developments: the rush for motivation and the consumerist era
- 2.2.1Freud's core concept: the libidinal economy
- 2.2.2Freud's American nephew: Edward Bernays
- 2.2.3From a scientific approach of propaganda to the birth of modern marketing: the science of motivation
- 2.2.4Problems inherent to marketing's scientific approach of its influence on behaviors: playing with the system limits
- 2.2.5The Birth of Consumer Behavior and consumerism
2.3The use of psycho-technologies by marketing as the continuation of biopower by psychopower
- 2.3.1The Simondonian psychic apparatus genesis: psychic and collective individuation
- 2.3.2Powers upon individuals
- 2.3.3Esprit capacities and psychotechniques
- 2.3.4Formation and capture of attention and the capacity of care
2.4How marketing use of psychopower plays with system limits toward attention capture and motivation canalization, producing the destruction of the capacity of care and of desire
- 2.4.1Consumerism as the opposite of the care
- 2.4.2Marketing use of psychotechnologies through the highly strategic cultural and program industries
- 2.4.3Marketing versus the intergenerational transmission of savoir and the constitution of a Super-Ego
- 2.4.4Esprit resources shortage
- 2.4.5Trans-individuation short-circuit, disaffected individuals, symbolic misery
2.1Foundation of Bernard Stiegler's work: Indetermination of technique, pharmacology and organology
In order to understand the critiques of marketing by Bernard Stiegler and Ars Industrialis – the association he founded in 2005 –, we have to immerse, as synthetically as possible, in the very foundations of his work, especially his understanding of technique given that marketing, as a human artifact, could be understood as a technique or a set of technical means.
Techniques - and thus marketing - have no essential determined goal: following Heidegger's understanding of the human condition, the only certitude of existence is death; the human technical condition is thus an attempt to flight from death by the use of techniques in order to flight from the "original time" to the intra-temporal and inauthentic time: the time of technique and calculation, in an attempt to calculate the incalculable and undetermined to flight from the fundamental anxiety that is certitude of death (Barison & Ross 2004). For Stiegler, "Man is nothing other than technical life" (Barison & Ross 2004). Techniques are prosthesis of the human condition; forcing us – humans – to answer the question of who we are in order to determine the techniques we have to consider being our qualities. For Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe – also interviewed in Barison and Ross's film The Ister –, the question of ethics became infinitely problematic: in a society organized by the mythos, the end of technique is given; technique (techne) and nature (physis) aren't differentiated. On the other hand, in a society organized by the logos, techniques are the mean to obtain what nature can't provide, but there is no given end to this; ends are infinite and to determine. This problematic is even stronger after the belief in Progress of humanity through the progress of techniques has been a breath-taken following Death Camps in which the undetermined end of technique found its most shocking illustration.
Indeed, the material means employed for the Holocaust have been made available by the industrial revolution: the difference with the economic industrial activity is the end aimed. The problem is the same regarding marketing communication and war propaganda under a totalitarian regime: techniques gathered under those terms are similar – communication technologies articulated with behavior science aiming to influence or control minds – the difference is in the end aimed. For Stiegler after Plato, techniques are pharmacologic, which means that all techniques are ambivalent, both poisonand remedy. In his first and most famous book, Techniques and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus (published in 1994 in French, 1998 in English) Stiegler use the myth of Prometheus to explain thepharmakon that are techniques, symbolized by the fire - which also symbolize the divine power - stolen by Prometheus to the Gods and given to humans. Fire is vital to heat our houses and cook our meal, but can also burn the house. This ambivalence of techniques is the reason why there is a need of a system of care, a therapeutic: every technique has a healing power and a destructive power (Ars Industrialis 2010), from the technique of writing, as explained by Plato in The Phaedrus, which allows reminding something but also allow feigning wisdom, to magnetic resonance imaging that can detect cancers or be used to determine human brain unconscious backdoors and implement this knowledge with increased sells in purpose.
Approaching marketing as a pharmakon does not directly solved the problem of ethical marketing: we have to determine if, as a technique and thus a pharmakon, marketing is ambivalent and free to be made good or bad use by practitioners or if, as a set of techniques organized toward a given end, marketing is already naming a policy, a techniques arrangement, in which techniques might be toxically organized. Unfortunately, during the time given to write the present paper, no writing has been found in Stiegler's work that would suggest what would be a non-toxic, that is to say a benefic use of the technique called marketing or a beneficial use of the techniques arrangement called marketing. Is it because there is none? This seems to remain an open question in Stiegler's works. Nevertheless, if marketing is the organization of relationships aiming profit as put by Camenisch (Camenisch 1991), marketing already integrate a given end, that is to say it is not an undetermined technique but it already refer to a policy, a social organ, which articulate techniques toward a determined end, profit. The debate under this point is to determine, after Stiegler's strong critique of marketing detailed hereafter, if marketing is essentially a toxic organization of social relations or if classic marketing policy are a toxically designed arrangement of marketing techniques but can be returned as a cure as any pharmakon.
2.2 Behavior sciences and marketing co-developments: the rush for motivation and the consumerist era
What are the criteria allowing Stiegler to say that the use of a technique is good or bad, curative or toxic? It is its trend to extend desire capacities of the individual – desire understood in its Freudian or Lacanian meaning – and intensify what Simondon calls the psychic and collective individuation process. Symmetrically, the toxic pole of pharmaka creates what Marx called alienation, and what Stiegler after Freud call the destruction of the social energy that is the libido, or after Simondon, the desindividuation process (Stiegler 2012a).
2.2.1 Freud's core concept: the libidinal economy
In the Freudian vision of the psychic system, the libidinal economy is the process by which the psychic energy that are drives are transformed in a social energy that is desire (Stiegler 2008b, p.72) through the process of sublimation:
Desire is not only opposed to sideration, it is also opposed to the drive – or more exactly it is what trans-forme the drive: what sublime it. Sublimation is the constituent process by which humanity, as transformation from drives into desires, lead hominization as a trend for the individual elevation that Aristotle qualified as noetic (intellectual and spiritual) – (Ars Industrialis 2012a)
For Freud, the term of libido names the energy of drives, to which we usually refer to as "love", which gathers
self-love, and on the other, love for parents and children, friendship and love for humanity in general, and also devotion to concrete objects and to abstract ideas. – (Freud 1949)
Stiegler underlines the proximity of this definition of libido with Aristotle's concept of philia that is a "centripetal social energy" (Stiegler 2008b, p.134). The concept of libidinal economy points the system by which the psychic energy that are drives – and among them sexual drives but not only – is economized and invested, canalized toward objects of love or of attention – that is both a capacity of caring and a capacity of being attentive (Ars Industrialis 2012b):
Any society is based on a libidinal economy transforming the satisfaction of drives, that are in essence asocial, in a social act – (Ars Industrialis 2012b)
The major critique formulated by Stiegler toward marketing is due to what Stiegler describe as an attempt to divert the libidinal energy for the profit of products sold, thus short-circuiting the process of sublimation and leading to the destruction of desire. This diversion is made through the industrialized use of psycho-technologies by program industries – television and radio – theorized since the beginning of marketing research through the study of means to address the preconscious and unconscious layer of the psychic apparatus rather than to simply address the consciousness of individuals. Those developments made and still make an extensive use of Freud's breakthrough in psychology as detailed hereafter, making Stiegler consider that, after the industrial revolutions of the nineteenth and early twentieth century relying on carbon energy – coal and oil – the strategic energy leading economic developments during the second half of the twentieth century in the capitalist world was the libidinal energy – as it became the most strategic resource regarding economy of scale development – through the process of motivation's production and canalization at an industrial scale by marketing toward merchandises, following Bernays, Cheskin and Dichter's works on behavioral science applied to consumer motivation (Stiegler 2010a).
2.2.2 Freud's American nephew: Edward Bernays
188.8.131.52 The birth of Public Relations
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud attempted to describe the human psychology and especially the articulation between conscious and unconscious functions. Following this breakthrough in the understanding of the human psychology, Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, born in 1891 in Vienna before his family moved to New York City in 1892, used both his uncle works and fame to contribute to the early days of Public Relations. His first act in the field of Public Relations was his contribution to the US federal government's campaign made by the Creel Commission to bring the American opinion around regarding the need to join the war effort in 1917, despite the popular opposition (Adam Curtis 2002): his great accomplishment was to convince the government to use propaganda to address directly the opinion unconsciousness (Stiegler 2010a). After the end of World War I, Bernays start to work on Public Relations for businesses. His work for the American Tobacco Company led to what Bernays considered as the cigarettes market doubling by spinning the public opinion on the product sold by his client (Dumas et al. 2012). In the early 1920s, smoking women were considered vulgar; Bernays successfully changed this by making suffragettes publicly smoke in front of the press. The picture of those feminist activists smoking as a symbol of their independency, widely relayed by the US Medias, would be the start of a new era for the tobacco industry. Presenting cigarettes as "torches of freedom" – a name normally associated with the Statue of Liberty – and theorizing them as phallic symbol, recalling to the masculine domination – an analysis that isn't without controversy but that is out of our present subject – and thus to independency was a very direct application of Freud's theory of the unconscious by Bernays. This action of opinion "spinning" inaugurated later in the twentieth century the occupation of "spinning doctor", for which Bernays is considered being the founding father (Tye 1998). As put by Bernays's biographist, his revolutionary contribution was to sell a product not by finding customers that have a behavioral compatibility with the product but rather to attempt to shape their behavior, their way of life in order to make it fit the product:
Bernays's tactic differed, but his philosophy in each case was the same. Hired to sell a product or a service, he instead sold whole new ways of behaving, which appeared obscure but over time reaped huge rewards for his clients and redefined the very texture of American life. – (McLaughlin & Parry 2006, p.9)
184.108.40.206"Without mind control to minimize cleavages, democracy would be chaos"
This psychological approach that Bernays wanted to implement at an industrial scale to model behaviors, associated with Medias' broadcasting power led to the reappropriation of the term Proganda through his eponym bookPropaganda. At that time, the term propaganda didn't had such a negative connotation as after World War II and Goebbels' Minister of Propaganda, which was inspired by Bernays' works (Chomsky 1997; Stauber & Rampton 1999). In this book, Bernays describe his vision of democracy and how elite have to organize the potential chaos:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. – (Bernays 1928, chap.I)
The justification of manipulation by this "invisible government" is said to be the unity of the society in a context of diverging influences, with "smoothness" on target.
As civilization has become more complex, and as the need for invisible government has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented. With the printing press and the newspaper, the railroad, the telephone, telegraph, radio and airplanes, ideas can be spread rapidly and even instantaneously over the whole of America. – (Bernays 1928, chap.I)
This manipulative approach of politics leads to a comparable strategy in the field of commercial exchanges, which is also justified by the higher good of society at large:
In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market. In practice, if everyone went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed. To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds. There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea. – (Bernays 1928, chap.I)
Here, the effort of propaganda is not only justified by the impossibility to get product information otherwise, but also to capture and canalize mind in a predefined direction, the direction chosen by the "invisible government". For this purpose, Bernays sees no restriction in matter of communication means:
There is no means of human communication which may not also be a means of deliberate propaganda, because propaganda is simply the establishing of reciprocal understanding between an individual and a group. – (Bernays 1928, chap.XI)
This idealized vision of propaganda as a mean for an invisible government to keep society united has been contested and analyzed, only a few decades later, as a major threat to democracy: Alex Carey opened the way for Noam Chomsky by pointing "the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy" and thus considering that it has been one of the major political developments of the twentieth century (Carey 1996, p.18). Justifying propaganda, that is to say conscious efforts to manipulate opinions unconsciousness, for the sake of a national interest already seems ethically contestable; doing so for the sake of private profits is even more and – without speaking of individuation process – constitute an attack toward one of the classical microeconomic theory pillar that is the rational homo oeconomicus as detailed later. This marketing ancestor that are public relations put here a huge step in the political matters with thus a social impact obviously superior to the sole economic circuit on which economic theorists such as Friedman want to focus:
I share Adam Smith's skepticism about the benefits that can be expected from "those who affected to trade for the public good"–this argument must be rejected on grounds of principle. What it amounts to is an assertion that those who favor the taxes and expenditures in question have failed to persuade a majority of their fellow citizens to be of like mind and that they are seeking to attain by undemocratic procedures what they cannot attain by democratic procedures. – (Friedman 1970)
Friedman's blindness regarding the social impact of the economic activity, the obvious permeability between managerial, economic and politic matters, echoes especially wrong when put aside with Bernays theory of the "invisible government" that are governments and corporations through propaganda: if propaganda is in charge of societies destiny through the dissimulated drive of democratic procedures that are attempts of mind control, the same pseudo-democratic procedures would hardly be said autonomously responsible of the public good. Friedman puts a virtual fence between economic activities and society, leading to a full deresponsibilisation of businesses. However, marketing and business at large can't be a neutral practice restrained to a virtually isolated sphere of society, especially since the raise of multinational corporations as borderless independent entities: business and marketing design are de facto a political act in the sense that they have a huge impact on the shape of the social organization. While denied by business professionals following the Friedmanian conception of business, this point is strengthened by the Social Business approach, which aims to have a positive impact on society by other means than the sole GDP augmentation. Bernays' approach of propaganda has not yet been affected by the technicist blindness and put that the ethical responsibility toward society shall be borne by the practitioner:
Propaganda becomes vicious and reprehensive only when its authors consciously and deliberately disseminate what they know to be lies, or when they aim at effects which they know to be prejudicial to the common good. – (Bernays 1928, chap.II)
But this concern for the common good is largely subordinated under the powerful interest of Public Relations, which through successive attempts to make consumers behavior fit the interest of Public Relations' clients constitute a societal project toward consumerism. As Paul Mazur, the former associate of Bernays (Stiegler 2010a) and a Lehman Brothers' employee in the 1930s, said:
"We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed.[...]Man's desires must overshadow his needs"(Adam Curtis 2002)
This statement became a tangible reality since the 1950-1960s and the early days of the modern American Way of Life as a consumerist lifestyle, valuating possessions and an endless innovation for the sake of novelty, opening an era of accelerated obsolescence of goods and higher waste (Stiegler 2010a), in which, despite a lower media coverage, Motivation Research rose and prospered among practitioners, beside quantitative approaches of marketing (Fullerton 2011, p.67).
2.2.3 From a scientific approach of propaganda to the birth of modern marketing: the science of motivation
If rationalized attempts of crowd manipulation is something that can be found earlier in East or West history through the empirical works of Han Fei Zi or Machiavelli for instance, Bernays attempt to build a scientific expertise on propaganda by implementing Freud's work on the unconscious combined with the emerging mass communication channels that are the press and the radio in 1920s - and that will soon be the cinema and the television - creates an unprecedented mass manipulation paradigm, methodically maximizing the use of available scientific knowledge toward a better understanding and stimulation of motives. Among other, Ernest Dichter and Louis Cheskin, following Bernays' work, pushed forward the use of psychology for the purpose of systematically analyzing markets and developed the field of Motivation Research. Those research on how to "stimulate" buyers were the answer to a new problem of the after-World War II era, in which production was not the problem anymore, rather was avoiding the risk of overproduction as it occurred in the 1920-1930's by selling more than what consumers really "need", which is morally justified by the imperative of avoiding the economic depression (Stiegler 2008c, pp.2-3-5–2-3-7; Packard 1957, p.43). This scientific approach of motivation through the study of psychology discoveries on preconscious and unconscious dimensions of the mind went, especially after 1950, with a greater integration with other behavioral sciences "sociology and anthropology and even in some areas of economics", with the purpose to answer the question "why does a consumer buy or not buy a product" (Fullerton 2011, p.62). This unprecedented scientific approach of motives evolves during the second half of the twentieth century and spread from the US to the rest of Western societies after the 1970s (Stiegler 2008c, p.2-3-1).
2.2.4 Problems inherent to marketing's scientific approach of its influence on behaviors: playing with the system limits
The discipline that emerged under the name of marketing, aims science rigor and status – as economics before it – despite the limits inherent to soft sciences, and is
profoundly dominated by the empiricist world view and the logical empiricist paradigm – (Arndt 1985)
could in the end be defined as the science of creating and canalizing motivation in the absence of physical coercion and within a cultural and legal framework of limits framing the acceptable possibilities of psychological influences, a pragmatic approach of motivation of another within the cultural and legal framework of a "freedom society" as shaped after the Enlightments in the eighteenth century. This cultural and legal limits being social constructions, the aimed scientific rigor faces a challenge: maximizing efficiency in motives production with a scientific approach necessarily means playing with the limits of the system, and – when at reach – influence those limits. This possible influence on limits of the system in which the discipline develops its knowledge and rules is a major difference with hard sciences. Marketing's dependency toward social sciences – especially psychology and sociology – has been hence progressively minimized toward the hard science that is neurology, in a move comparable to the one leading economists to mathematize economics for the sake of being more scientific: if marketing's early developments through social sciences are still omnipresent, it has since been completed with a more neurologic approach and the development of tools such as offline and online eye-tracking or neuromarketing, pushing further consumer behavior understanding and thus possibilities to influence on consumer behavior (Morin 2011).
The above definition of marketing highlights the two main battlefields that are "what are acceptable psychological influences?" from a legal point of view – in which the state legislative power is subject to lobbies pressures – and from a cultural point of view – in which culture is subject to propaganda efforts to shape society through psychopower (cf infra Biopower and psychopower). There is here a possible self-strengthening circle in which propaganda efforts to influence culturally acceptable practices would strengthen lobbying initiatives toward a more laissez-faire legislation on industrialized psychological influences – of psychopower – which would give more liberty to, again, influence culture. A side effect is that attempting to model the culture would – if successful – influences the metastabilization (cf infra The Simondonian psychic apparatus genesis) of new knowledge in marketing studies, as students would be culturally more open to those development and would, once in charge, be more assertive, playing with further pushed limits. The final limit of such a vicious circle is what Stiegler calls a catastrophè: the denouement of a trend, which when playing with its limits become more visible and open the possibility of a system crisis that is a moment of change possibilities. The major limit that Stiegler analyze as being the base of the currentcatastrophè is what he calls the symbolic misery (Stiegler 2005).
2.2.5 The Birth of Consumer Behavior and consumerism
220.127.116.11 From Consumerism to mass consumerism
From an historical point of view, putting a unique and simple definition to consumerism is a difficult task, as underlined by Trentmann, due to "the abundance of choice and the semiotic and, indeed, political implications of any particular approach" (Trentmann 2004). In Consumerism in World History: The Global Transformation of Desire, Stearns defined consumerism as "the lure of material goods". The term consumerism
describes a society in which many people formulate their goals in life partly through acquiring goods that they clearly do not need for subsistence or for traditional display – (Trentmann 2004)
, which "first emerged in eighteenth-century Western Europe, and from there was exported to the rest of the globe". In this societal shift of consumerism, marketing techniques may have been playing the role of the pharmakos – the scapegoat – among possibly hasty critiques nowadays, rather than the pharmakon responsible of this shift: the consumerism trend as well as the individualism trend is historically anterior to modern marketing techniques. Nevertheless, the society analyzed by Marcuse in the 1950s in his book The One-Dimensional Man refers to a different society associated with the notion of "mass consumer society" (Trentmann 2004). After 1945, mass consumerism, that is to say consumerism extended to middle and lower classes, is propelled by post-World War II reconstruction but its basement relies on the new economical paradigm of wages inaugurated a few decades earlier by Henry Ford, raising workers' wages above the subsistence wage, once analyzed by Lassalle and later by Marx and Engels as the "Iron law of wages".
The scale of their living – the rate of their wages – determines the prosperity of the country. – (Ford & Crowther 1922, chap.VIII)
Fordism more generous wage paradigm – which, before the "our employees are our customer" idea, had the great advantage to magnet the best talents of Detroit and limit the huge staff turnover created by the implementation of the Taylorist Scientific Management – unlocked the possibility for masses to tend toward a consumption behavior comparable to the one of the bourgeoisie, beyond the material necessity, pictured through the "American Way of Life" (Stiegler 2010a).
"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 satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption[...]we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate."(Lebow 1955)
But aside from Fordism mass production and high wages policy, Stiegler points another pillar to the cultural shift toward a mass consumerism society that is cultural industries: the cinema through the fast-developing neighborhood of Hollywood in the 1910s, the radio with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and soon television would broadcast the sounds and the images of this emerging culture (Stiegler 2010a). At the same time, advertising knows a tremendous development, raising from a volume of "about $200 million in 1880 to nearly $3 billion in 1920" (Pope 2003, p.2).
While advertising generated modern anxieties about its social and ethical implications, it nevertheless acquired a new centrality in the 1920s. Consumer spending–fueled in part by the increased availability of consumer credit–on automobiles, radios, household appliances, and leisure time activities like spectator sports and movie going paced a generally prosperous 1920s. Advertising promoted these products and services. The rise of mass circulation magazines, radio broadcasting and to a lesser extent motion pictures provided new media for advertisements to reach consumers. – (Pope 2003, p.3)
Those developments of psychotechnologies, as defined and analyzed hereafter, offer a favorable context to the development of Public Relations as theorized and put into practice by Bernays and to the development of advertising industry, with the support of public authorities as illustrated by this 1926 speech of the US President Calvin Coolidge, in which he pronounced a benediction on the business of advertising:
Advertising ministers to the spiritual side of trade. It is a great power that has been intrusted to your keeping which charges you with the high responsibility of inspiring and ennobling the commercial world. It is all part of the greater work of regeneration and redemption of mankind. – (Pope 2003, p.3)
This promotion of the marketing tool that is advertising is part of what could be called the meta-propaganda of consumerism.
Public relation and advertising, as the exploitation of the new psychotechnologies that are analogical writing technologies produced by the machinist turn of sensitivity for a merchant use, are the tools of what Stiegler calls a psychopower.
2.3 The use of psycho-technologies by marketing as the continuation of biopower by psychopower
2.3.1 The Simondonian psychic apparatus genesis: psychic and collective individuation
A first-hand reading of Stiegler's writing is, here especially, recommended in order to fully perceive the complexity of Stiegler's conceptual framework. Stiegler's use and extend Simondon's work on the technique, psychic and collective individuation. Simondon's thinking
is really systemic, what makes the reading [and interpretation] complex. Every notion shore up the others, which over-determine the first one in return. – (Salzmann 1994, p.7)
A first-hand reading of Simondon is thus also a non-negligible investment to fully understand the notions hereafter that would require a higher level of detail than what is possible here. Simondon conceptualizes individuation as a transductive relation: a relation in which the technical, psychical or collective individual's inside and outside are not in an opposition relation but rather compose together (Stiegler 2008b, p.99):
The relation between the individual and the transindividual define itself as what go beyond the individual while prolonging it: the transindividual is not outside from the individual but nonetheless detach itself to a certain extent from the individual.[…]The psychological individuality appears as what develop itself while developing the transindividuality; this elaboration in based on two related dialectics, the one that interiorize the outside, the other that exteriorize the inside – (Simondon 1989, p.156)
A psychological individual is thus not the "fully constituted" result being determined by an external system but is "the element [milieu] of individuation."(Deleuze 2001, p.43). The psychic individual never is, but is always becoming, that is to say is always in this individuation process. He is thus permanently being determined by the metastable system – a system of relative stability, a balance between two transformations (Salzmann 1994, p.6) – he is part of and being determining this outside milieu he exercises his forces in. This transductive relation that is individuation is illustrated by the example of the brick becoming, that is going through the process of the technical individuation of a brick by the composition of forces in a metastable system, the mould being informing the clay whose pre-individual or pre-formation properties – its material properties, its inner heterogeneity etc. – inform the matter (Stiegler 2008b, p.98; Salzmann 1994, pp.6–10). An illustration of this transductive relation could be made through the development of the collective individual that is a language: the linguistic development is the collective stabilization of the technical objects that are words and their organizational rules that are grammar and syntaxes, which becomes the pre-existent, the pre-individual base of psychic individuals. In order to be adopted and to determine the individuation of a psychic individual, the language has to be receipted from another individual first, but will be truly adopted when re-emitted that is to say when the psychic individual is able to take the long circuit that is taking part in the collective individuation and to transform this milieu. That is also what is happening in the stabilization of academic knowledge in universities: the student will receive anterior knowledge developments of his field and this stabilized knowledge will constitute the basis of his work as researcher, by which he will be able to criticize and prolong previous developments of his research field and thus to aim to stabilize new knowledge, that is to transform the collective individual that is his field. This mutually transformative relation between the metastabilized milieu and psychic and collective individuals is the process of transindividuation. This fundamental aspect of the psychic individuation as an essentially collective and participative movement, producing not only individuals but also a milieu, is a major key to the pharmacological critique of hereafter described uni-directionnal psycho-technologies – TV, cinema, radio – in which mass of individuals only receive information but never participate and transform the milieu, and thus doesn't individuate themselves but rather desindividuate.
This participation to the milieu transformation, the participation to its individuation that is transindividuation, is in the case of knowledge what make the difference between knowledge and savoirs: you can have a lot of knowledge and even be able to repeat it but if you don't try to transform it, that is to say to make the long circuit of thinking in order to be able to criticize it, you experience a short-circuit, you are not individualizing yourself as the meanings created are superficial and make you unable to use this knowledge in another way than automated: I'm told that I will have marketing responsibilities in a firm, I will have to put pressure for lower costs and higher selling price. But if I never had to do the long circuit of the thinking leading to this conclusion, if I have no meaningful historical or sociological background to help me understand why maximizing profits is or has been justified, I have no capacity to criticize it and this social function executed as a human automate has no taste: I don't see the profound reasons of my actions and I'm not able to see the consequences of it. I have no grip to properly understand that reality and thus can't develop an autonomous thinking of it: I'm not a major person in the Kantian understanding of majority [Mündigkeit].
2.3.2 Powers upon individuals
This metastable system can be influenced by attempts to shape it through intelligently designed forces, constituting powers, which produce an energy shaping this milieu made of transductive relations. This are biopower – power to constraint one's body –, psychopower – power to influence one's psychology –, neuropower – power to stimulate one's neurological functions.
18.104.22.168 Biopower and psychopower
In his book Taking Care of Youth and the Generations (2008), Bernard Stiegler describes attempts toward a mind control power through the term of psycho-power, in analogy with Michel Foucault's concept of bio-power. If biopower is
an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations – (Foucault 1979, p.140)
used by states and their polices, making up a Disciplinary Society controlling bodies through environments of enclosure – prison, hospital, factory, school, family, army –, Stiegler, after Foucault and Deleuze, define the psychopower as the use of psychotechniques allowing what Deleuze describe as a Society of Control (Stiegler 2008c, p.32; Deleuze 1990).Biopower's discipline is not the dominant power anymore, rather is Psychopower's modulation, an idea illustrated for states by the trend "to tax rather than to organize production" (Deleuze 1990, sec.I):
The conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by disciplinary training, by fixing the exchange rate much more than by lowering costs, by transformation of the product more than by specialization of production. – (Deleuze 1990, sec.II)
The downfall of discipline as the major organization principle is also the crisis of biopower enclosure institutions:
We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure –prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an "interior," in crisis like all other interiors […] The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods – (Deleuze 1990, chap.I)
This supposedly irreversible downfall of interiors that are family and school has important consequences on individuals' learning process of responsibility, analyzed by Stiegler in the hereafter described relation of forces between family, the program institution that is school and the program industry that is television. The role of marketing in the society of control is central: marketing is the external broadcasting limb of the corporation spirit, when management is the internal one.
Marketing has become the center or the "soul" of the corporation. We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters. – (Deleuze 1990, chap.II)
This intuition of Deleuze toward the growing role of marketing as a spiritual institution rejoin the previously used meta-propaganda terminology: mass consumerism is made possible by the convergent signals, from the dominant culture in the society at large and from the market and the professional activity through marketing and management, in such a way that an psychic individuate individuating in those milieu tend to conform, that is to coindividuate and enhance this trend in the transindividual milieu. This psychopower approach of marketing has been deepen to demonstrate this "remote control of behaviours and representations" and how
it has become the prevailing symbolic form structured by the present imaginary significations of the neo liberal capitalism (or its new spirit), thus structuring the symbolic relationships in today's societies[, which] has been greatly made possible by the emergence of a new type of psychological individuality with narcissistic trends which is an appropriate target for the invasion of goods. – (Floris & Ledun 2005)
The egg-and-chicken problem we meet here between the tools of consumerism propaganda and individualist consumerist behaviors is characteristic of this technic, psychic and collective individuation in which trends compose together and, when convergent, reinforce each other. But this self-sustaining trend of converging signals doesn't come without limits. Lordon, commenting this 1990 text of Deleuze, highlights the current trend of management, especially in the US, to promote the management of fun, what Lordon but also the British magazine The Economist describe as a deleterious attempt to hide a major issue for employees motivation: the lack of meaning in their daily tasks (Lordon 2010; The Economist 2010). Those limits are at the heart of Stiegler's criticism regarding the destruction of attention and desire capacities:
Psycho-power is the systematic organisation of the capture of attention made possible by the psycho-technologies that have developed with the radio (1920), with television (1950) and with digital technologies (1990), spreading all over the planet through various forms of networks, and resulting in a constant industrial canalization of attention which has provoked recently a massive phenomenon of the destruction of this attention that American nosologists call attention deficit disorder. This destruction of attention is a particular case, and especially serious one, of the destruction of libidinal energy whereby the capitalist libidinal economy self-destructs. – (Stiegler 2008d)
Without being the result of a plot theory or anything of this kind, such a stressing of the influence of marketing, its power upon our lives, is actually very common:
While the idea of actual ‘mind control' may seem far-fetched and unrealistic, the fact remains that the marketing industry has had a firm grasp over the American perception [and by extension the one of Western societies, and growingly from every industrialized societies] of everything from smoking to sex education. – (Phan 2010, p.4)
By extension of the psychopower, neuro-power doesn't even aim one's psychology; there is here no attempt to influence the unconscious but rather to directly stimulate the brain neurologic apparatus. That is the realm of neuromarketing developments, this field of marketing interested in neurotechniques in a state of accelerated development since the early 2000s (Morin 2011) but to which could be connected older practices.
Each power is a field of intelligent ruse – Metis – developments for a human being or a human organization wanting to control other human being: biopower had the concept of panopticon, originally a kind of prison organized in a way that every individuals was self-disciplining by fear and ignorance of if he was being seen or not, extensively analyzed by Foucault and analyzed since in other institutions such as the management of call-centers (Bain & Taylor 2000) but impossible, as a biopower, to be used by marketing. Marketing focuses thus on psychotechnical and neurotechnical ruses: psychopower is the realm of psychological ruse through symbolic constructions, extensively used through advertisement techniques to associate a product and an idea – Redbull and extreme life-experience through the sponsoring of X-sport demonstration for instance – and are thus at the heart of the diverting disposal of psychic energy aiming the production of a motivation. Neurotechniques have allowed the recent development of neuromarketing through "the use of technology and knowledge coming from the field of cognitive neuroscience" focusing on the process of attention capture and the creation of an appropriated emotional context in order to make the advertisement more efficient (Morin 2011, p.132): the emblematic practice of this neuromarketing definition is the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – currently "the most popular [method] amongst marketing companies" (Phan 2010, p.4) – techniques with the purpose of identifying areas of the brain that are stimulated by a given message, an image or even a smell in order to precise the marketing means that fit the most the identity of a brand without "requiring demanding cognitive or conscious participation" of tested customers (Morin 2011, p.131). However, beyond this focus on attention capture mechanism, the neuromarketing definition could also be connected to the researches and practices on customers retention through a better understanding of addictions: Coca Cola's high sugar rate or Tobacco industry's use of nicotine are clearly more on the side of neurotechniques than psychotechniques; compulsive shopping, which once understood is a tremendous marketing lever is also studied in terms of addiction (Hartston 2012). Those research on neuromarketing constitute the latest avatar of Cheskin's and Dichter's science of motivation with a focus on the brain reward system
a set of very old brain regions from an evolutionary point of view. This system makes emotion and decision-making interact in a way that the last one escapes from pure rationality – (Dumas et al. 2012)
However, the development of attention capture techniques could be attached to both the realm of psychotechniques and neurotechniques as the mechanism of attention capture encompass the studies of how to catch the attention of the neurologic apparatus – hence the higher volume of TV ads, the lobbying efforts defending outdoor advertising in motion (Dumas et al. 2012) etc. – and of how to stimulate the catched attention and keep it along the message with symbolically appropriated contents. The border is here tiny: how to class the use of erotic contents for instance that catch the attention by both symbolic and neurologic means? Such a systematic use of customer's mind backdoors raises naturally important questions of ethics (Dumas et al. 2012).
2.3.3Esprit capacities and psychotechniques
22.214.171.124Memory and attention
A psycho-technique is literally a technique on or from the esprit – (Ars Industrialis 2012c)
The French word Esprit, as Geist in German, should here be understood as both the spirit and the mind, as a translation of the Ancient Greek Noùs. As such, psychotechniques are the indispensable mean of human relationships: thinking and communication through speaking are the first bricks of human social developments as highlighted by anthropologic and linguistic researches (MacWhinney 2005). Those human mind capacities are made possible by the human brain memory capacity, allowing him to remind an experience, leading to the development of the brain as an intellectual organ, an organ able to inter-ligere, to link together different elements, which will give the intelligence capacity.
This memory could be divided between what Husserl defines as primary and secondary retentions. Primary retentions constitute the memory of events that are present, what allow ones for instance to keep in mind the beginning of a phrase – already in the past – to which will be articulated the presently added words. Those primary retentions are conditioned by secondary retentions, which constitute the memory of the past of an attentive consciousness, allowing one's to tie the present with the past experience and to project protentions that are expectation determined by secondary retentions (Stiegler 2008c, p.38). For instance, once heard and assimilated, words are stored as a secondary retention, allowing one's to understand a speech by reminding the previously understood words that constitute this speech.
Psychotechniques of re-tentions and pro-tentions shape the capacity of at-tention that is the very basis of the social communications: without this capacity of the mind to articulate retentions and protentions, there is no experience possible: "attention is the flow of consciousness" (Stiegler 2008c, p.38).
126.96.36.199 Grammatization and writing
The human specificity regarding this psychic apparatus is techniques (Barison & Ross 2004). Psychotechniques allows humans to outdo the brain memory: languages and their words allow the transmission of the individually accumulated experience: speech thus constitutes the beginning of cultures, a milieu shaped by past experiences accumulated and transmitted through the development of the language. Psychotechniques such as languages and savoirs-vivre – sometime translated as the know-how-to-live-well, the expertise in living producing meanings constitutive of a culture i.e. an organization of the care –, constitute a preindividual milieu – for instance the linguistic milieu – in which psychic individuals become who they are, i.e. individuate: this is an illustration of how psychotechniques – but also other kind of techniques – overdetermine the process of individuation. However techniques also allow the memory to be stored on supports outside the neurologic system and thus form what Stiegler calls tertiary retentions: this is the process of grammatization of the mind, a concept designating "the passage from temporal continuous to spatial discrete" that is the exteriorization process of writing (Ars Industrialis 2012d). Through the grammatization process, the memory finds an external support to its transmission and accumulation and is thus extended and, again, overdetermined by the technical milieu. This overdetermination of the primary and secondary retentions by techniques, i.e. the technical milieu in which one's individuate, is the reason why psychotechniques and their mechanization and industrialization as psychotechnology have a power of control, through the intelligent use of this overdetermination.
The psychotechnique of writing, analyzed by Platon with Socrate in The Phaedrus as a pharmakon, gives to the mind and the spirit a power of potentially infinite accumulation of the experience that one's can reminds and transmits. This technique of ideogrammatic writing will be progressively augmented in capacity through other technical developments: the paper will give the book, the press will ease their production, analogical writing through the mechanical capture of the sensible will give the phonography and photography, computing will give the numeric writing and the quasi-instant transmission and treatment of information.
The mechanization and industrialization of writing is constitutive of psychotechnologies that contribute at an industrial scale to shape the metastabilized milieu in which we transindividuate, in which we collectively and individually become who we are. In that regard, the major critique of Stiegler is that this overdetermination of who we become, giving a potential power of control to those who design, use or – regarding states institutions – regulate those technology, isn't thought as such by political representatives, a lack of understanding resulting, very schematically, in two political trends, technophiles and technophobes – the first tending to support the idea of a positive correlation between technical progress and human progress, the other supporting the opposed correlation – when the "correct" approach would have been to analyze how technique, psychic and collective individuals compose together in a pharmacologic understanding of techniques, that is, after Simondon, an understanding of techniques as a bipolarized field of possibilities (Stiegler 2012a), which are articulated with social and nervous systems to form what Stiegler describes as a general organology, encompassing "the total human fact" (Stiegler 2006b, chap.28). Misunderstood and misregulated, those psychotechnologies produce what Stiegler's names "telecracy" rather than democracy (Stiegler 2010c).
In this context, thinking the ethical character in the use of a given technique is thinking the forces it exercises in the general organology, and how it contributes to its metastabilization. Psychotechnologies are thus not bad as such but depend on the use and purpose they serve: they highly contributed to the human extension of possibilities, including both the possibility of totalitarian propaganda and Bernays Public Relations.
Our wants and values are influenced not only by marketers, but also by family, peer groups, religion, ethnic background and education. If modern societies, wherever they exist, are highly materialistic, these values arose out of basic socialization processes that go much deeper than business and mass media could produce alone. – (Kotler et al. 2005, p.177)
Kotler's marketing manual is not wrong when saying that marketing doesn't produce the value system but he seems to ignore or deny the higher than ever strength of marketing in its capacity to take control of psychotechnologies and their associated power upon individuation processes. The era of psychotechnologies overthrow the era of the human history opened by psychotechniques, including nootechniques – from noùs, the esprit – that are not only techniques on the esprit but techniques from the esprit, intellectual and spiritual techniques, such as books in the context of the Enlightments (Stiegler 2008c, p.37; Ars Industrialis 2009) or the Internet in its intellectually empowering aspect.
2.3.4 Formation and capture of attention and the capacity of care
This formation of the attention that produce psychotechniques and especially the book, produced monotheisms, the philosophy and sciences:
In another way, the capture of attention isn't a flaw of our time: capturing attention, it's forming it. Reciprocally, forming attention, it's capturing it – what every teacher knows from experience. The formation of an attention – what Moses Mendelssohn, answering to the question of what is the Aufklärung, names the Bildung (encompassing for him both Kultur and Aufklärung) – is a fundamental condition of any human society, that is to say of any individuation process because of being at the same time psychic and collective: because of the formation of attention being a skill indissociably psychic and social, this formation is also the formation of what Simondon calls the transindividual – (Stiegler 2008c, pp.37–38)
The word attention from the Latin attendere keeps in French and English its double meaning as to take care, paying attention (Stiegler 2012b). This capacity of attention that is the "mental faculty of concentrating on an object" and the "social faculty of taking care of this object" (Stiegler 2008d) is the result of an education:
"The formation of the attention through its social capture, what is called the education, is the way psychic individuals not only co-individuate themselves, but transindividuate – including at the unconscious level" (Stiegler 2008c, pp.39–40)
The capacity of attention, as an articulation of psychic primary retentions with psychic and collective secondary retentions overdetermined by tertiary retentions, differs, because of this overdetermination, from a society to another in accordance with the technical, social and psychic organology. In that regards, culture could be defined as the transmission of collective secondary retentions determining a specific capacity of attention (Stiegler 2008c, p.39). This transindividual symbolic milieu that is culture is the place of savoirs: savoir-vivre, savoir-faire [know-how], savoir-noétique [from noùs, noetic, theoretical knowledge] that are attentional forms of knowledge resulting from an education (Stiegler 2012b, p.2) and organizing the system of "taking care" in a society.
Attention is also the name of civility as it is founded on philia [love in its large understanding, the socialized desire], that is, on socialised libidinal energy. This is why the destruction of attention is both the destruction of the psychical apparatus and the destruction of the social apparatus (formed by collective individuation) to the extent that the later constitutes [a] system of care, given that to pay attention is also to take care. – (Stiegler 2008d)
The attention formed by the education through psychotechniques allows the majority of the individual, in the Kantian understanding of this word as the ability to think autonomously and thus of the individual's responsibility (Stiegler 2008c).
2.4 How marketing use of psychopower plays with system limits toward attention capture and motivation canalization, producing the destruction of the capacity of care and of desire
2.4.1Consumerism as the opposite of the care
In the Deleuzian description of the society of control, "the goal is not anymore to form and exploit producers but to control consumer's behavior" through the development of psychotechnologies that are "attention control apparatuses", which destroy attention, and responsibility with it (Stiegler 2010a). The scheme that emerges here is the industrial exploitation of the libidinal energy, canalized through attention capture and symbolic systems, to form the raw material of marketing that is motivation as an input for the economic activity in a society that used to be based on the belief that there is a strong correlative relation between consumption and "the Pursuit of Happiness" success. But this system is highly entropic in the sense that this attempt to exploit this newly discovered, in the 1950s, input couldn't be endlessly practiced without caring of the limits and renewability of the resource. A manifest symptom of this limit is the huge movement of disbelief regarding this consumerist correlation with happiness:
According to surveys conducted recently by the sociologist Juliet Schor, 81% of Americans estimate that their country is too centered on consumption and almost 90% of them consider that it is too materialistic. – (Stiegler 2008d)
The system of care, previously described as the capacity of attention and the psychic and collective constitution of savoirs articulated in a collective individual that is a culture, has been hugely impacted by consumerism value system and marketing co-development. The science of motivation leading to the canalization and synchronization of motivation in a system aiming analogy with the scientific management of the factory, without the possibility of biopower but offset with an intensive research of psychopower, result in a process of proletarization – understood as the loss of savoir – of the consumer:
For if it is true that industrialisation in general is the generalisation of a mnemotechnological reproducibility of the motor behaviour of producers, hyperindustrialisation is the generalisation of a mnemotechnological reproducibility of the motor behaviour of consumers. Just as the producer – whose gesture is reproduced, and whose know-how passes into the machine, which turns him or her into what is called a proletarian –, the consumer is divested of his savoir-vivre, his know-how-to-live-well, and [find himself] in the same stroke desindividuated: he is nothing more than an instance of purchasing power, which is to say of heedless consumerism, which destroys the world heedlessly. – (Stiegler 2009, sec.2)
This process is easily thinkable for one's who already considered the marketing way of thinking: there is a product; it should be sold in order to maximize profit – that is to say until infinity if the marginal cost stays always lower than the selling price. This simple assertion, that has nothing exceptional for a marketing course, is a denial of the psychic and collective production of the libidinal energy production system that is a libidinal economy; an assertion opposed to the very principle of an economy that is originally to economize resources, to take care of them, and not to grow infinitely as underlined by Pierre Rabhi – a defender of de-growth, hence in contradiction with Stiegler but with a comparable leaning to highlight the undermining of the care value and the urge to make it central.
While supply chain management has to deal with the economy of natural resources, marketing deals with the economy – that would mean in a correct understanding of the term "economy", a care; approach that we will try to elaborate regarding marketing later – of two resources: attention and desire. The attention is what the "attention economy" doesn't economize but rather wastes while trying to immoderately capture it with all the available means. The desire is what the science of motivation destroys while trying to divert it from it social function in order to turn it as an input of business.
The society of services in which marketing aims to push a service as a substitute to every savoirs-vivre in order to explore new possibilities of profit, destroys when successful those savoirs-vivre, which let consumers "off the hook of their own existences" (Stiegler 2008d).
When everything becomes a service, transindividuation is completely short-circuited by marketing and advertising. Public life is, then, destroyed: psychic and collective individuation becomes collective disindividuation – (Stiegler 2006b)
This proletarization process is the very hard point of Stiegler's critiques and the major difficulty that is encountered when trying to think an ethical marketing: if the service industries went beyond the limits, what are those limits and how to implement such a critique in business when it seems to aim major parts of the economy from for instance prepared meals to children entertainment?
The more we delegate the execution of series of small tasks that make up the warp and woof of our lives to the apparatuses and services of modern industry, the more vain we become: the more we lose not only our know-how but our know-how-to-live-well: the only thing left for us is to consume blindly, a kind of impotence, without these saveurs (savours) that only savoir – from sapere – which is knowledge, can provide. We become impotent if not obsolete – if it is true that knowledge is what empowers humanity. – (Stiegler 2009)
2.4.2Marketing use of psychotechnologies through the highly strategic cultural and program industries
188.8.131.52The use of psychotechnologies by marketing toward a minor state of minds
The development of psychotechnologies based on analogic writing that are radio, cinema and television, opening the era of cultural industries and, with radio and even more with television, of program industries, has been rapidly exploited by marketing for their high power of influence upon the formation of symbolically charged psychic and collective secondary retentions. Cinema's exceptional potential of both attention capture and influence upon the symbolic milieu, its capacity to influence the psychic process of identification and thus upon the ideal-of-the-self, rapidly made it a strategic media for the production of motivation: cigarettes, cars, individual housing, the American Way of Life as a whole were highly promoted since the very first decades of the cinema (Stiegler 2010a). Television intensifies this psychopower, this short-circuit of the identification process by making this influence potentially permanent and recurrent: the program industry come to concurrence the program institution that is school, which is the institution in charge of forming and capturing attention and produce the education, that is the use of psychotechniques for the formation of a system of care. Television also short-circuit the formation of the attention by another fundamental institution that is family, responsible of the generational transmission of knowledge and of technique-of-the-self (Stiegler 2008b).
Regarding television and marketing relations, a sentence, pronounced by a professional of psychotechnologies the former director of TF1, the first French TV channel, has been especially important in France:
There are many ways to speak about TV, but in a business perspective, let's be realistic: at the basis, TF1's job is helping Coca-Cola, for example, to sell its product. What we sell to Coca-Cola is available human brain time. – (Les associés d'EIM 2004)
This sentence was pronounced few years after the beginning of Real-TV shows in France, which have two major trends opened to criticism: the stimulation of drives rather than desire and the continuation in the liquidation of the Super-Ego for the profit of marketing.
Psychotechnologies open a new field for industrialization that is the symbolic industrialization: the symbolic milieu is what "organize the daily life in all its details" and forms "every nook and cranny" of our souls whatever how intimate or unconscious, what services industries and program industries took over and reduce to calculation, leading to desymbolisation, regression toward drives and herd instinct (Stiegler 2008b, pp.85–86). Extensively analyzed by Stiegler in Telecracy against democracy, this capacity of television to constitute intermittent artificial masses of individuals, sharing most of natural masses characteristics that is, after Freud analyses of masses, the feeling of responsibility disappearance, the mental contagion and the loss of goodwill through the identification to a common object, eventually an object or a leader (Stiegler 2008b, p.131). Indeed, being unidirectional psychotechnologies, that is technologies where the receiver of a message can't become the transmitter and thus can't participate to the transindividuation: he is stuck in a state of permanent minority, always listening and never in position to answer; he is never asked to do the psychic long-circuit that is the one of the critique. This incapacity to participate in the transformation of the symbolic milieu can't produce the individuation normally produced by any social relation but the one of unidirectional communication, which is thus not a communication but the propagation of a message, of a dogma closed to critiques, of a propaganda intended to the mass of minor minds, and so, maintained in this minor state of mind, that is in their irresponsibility. For Stiegler, this pattern constitute a break to the project of the Enlightments, namely that every individual was potentially able to intellectually raise itself up, which was the project of the scholar system building between the end of the nineteenth and the twentieth century, aiming to reinforce one's capacities to make the intelligence, the reason dominate in its inner battle between stupidity [approximate translation of the French bêtise, less an insult in Stiegler's lexic than the polarity opposed to intelligence in the spiritual milieu] and intelligence (Stiegler 2008c, pp.59–70): in this battle, the inattentive, careless practice of marketing largely pushs for stupidity.
184.108.40.206 Primary and secondary identification short-circuit
The identification process, the process creating an ideal-of-the-self, i.e. the idealization of one's vision of its present and future self, what he think he tend to be and wants to become, constitutive of the Ego, is divided in the Freudian theory in two phases between the primary identification and the secondary identification. The primary identification is the identification to the first circle of the baby's social life that is usually the family and especially the parents. According to Freud, this phase constitute an indelible trace in the constitution of the ideal-of-the-self. Then there is the secondary identification that is identification to other individuals, which will also influence the ideal-of-the-self. But in this process, the contradictory influences are solved by the primary identification, playing the role of a "psychic compass" for the ideal-of-the-self, thus ensuring its coherence (Stiegler 2008b, p.102). This identification process of the always becoming Ego has been conceptualized has an important source of potential motivation to buy, since the science of motivation directly addressed the unconscious. The identification process became thus a major stake for marketing, given that the resulting Ego constitute the
contact of savoir with the outside world as a perception/consciousness system, from which it is a living savoir as the apparatus collecting the primary retentions and integrating them to the secondary retentions, and by doing so, transforming and enriching this heritage with new experience on this subject. – (Stiegler 2008c, p.31)
Being the object of an identification process gives thus a power of influence upon the Ego that is upon the psychic apparatus articulated on secondary retentions. Marketing being the client of televisions buys attention and secondary identification to its marks and products, and by doing so through the use of psychotechnologies designed for drive-stimulation and addiction-stimulation, destroys attention and destroys the intergenerational identification process:
This destruction [of the attention] proceeds in this way because attention is what organizes and is organized by retentions and protentions, but today these are massively and incessantly controlled by the retentional and protentional processes of television. From the childhood stage of primary identification to the secondary identifications of the adult, these processes seek to substitute the secondary collective retentions elaborated by the process of transindividuation (which is nothing other than the vital process of psychic and collective individuation), with secondary collective retentions entirely fabricated according to the results of market studies and prescriptive marketing techniques, as much as by the specifications of designers, stylists, developers and ergonomists, together realizing the accelerated socialization of technological innovation. – (Stiegler 2006b)
This accelerated socialization of technological innovation also accelerate the proletarization process as the technical milieu being permanently changing, the possibilities to psychically stabilize oneself knowledge is an unprecedented rush against the obsolescence of the psychical individuation that is the psychic interior in relation with the exterior world.
Minors maintained minors doesn't properly individuate themselves but rather desindividuate as an artificial mass of hypersynchronized minds unable to maintain a sane primary narcissism i.e. a self-esteem normally resulting of a sane primary identification process, they are slowed down if not stopped in their construction of the Ego as a singularity that is an understanding of the self as someone different from the mass (Stiegler 2008b).
2.4.3 Marketing versus the intergenerational transmission of savoir and the constitution of a Super-Ego
The evolution of familial functioning and the diminution of intra-familial relations with a greater autonomy, a progressive disappearance of this "interior" led to influence directly the primary identification, orienting the psychic compass toward the value system promoted by television and its client that is marketing, which in the consumerist inattentive culture, is open to immoderate outlooks until profits justify it. This direct attack upon the Super-Ego reinforces a downfall of responsibilities and authority systems on which were structured previous system of care.
Children, adolescents and parents are seriously unbalanced in their relations, that is, in their being. The passage from the psychic to the collective begins with this relation, which is not therefore secondary but primordial, weaved into the primary identification whereby the child, like his parents, is in a transductive relation with his familiars. Currently, this relation is seriously perturbed by industrial temporal objects capturing and diverting attention, profoundly modifying the play of retentions and protentions, and above all producing secondary collective retentions which short-circuit the work of transmission between generations, work which is the only possibility of dialogue, including and above all through the modes of opposition and provocation – (Stiegler 2008d, sec.29).
The 1968 struggles in Western societies pushing for the opening of those "interiors" that used to constitute institutionalized form of the Super-Ego, in what Marcuse defended as an attempt to free the pleasure principle of the reality principle to reach of golden of libido through the liberation of "instincts":
This discourse [of Marcuse] is blind to the fact that pleasure, taking shape in a confrontation with reality, derives from a composition of tendencies rather than their opposition – the question being the binding or linkage of these tendencies by desire, and their degeneration leading to the reign of the drives, i.e., to spiritual misery. – (Stiegler 2006a)
This countercultural trend developing during the 1960s-1970s pushing for the "liberation of instincts", aiming to dismantle society taboo, with the benediction of numerous intellectuals and large parts of the population especially the youth, hugely benefited to marketing by opening wide the doors to the systematic exploitation of regressive pulsions i.e. to the spiritual misery (Stiegler 2006a) from which the most vivid example is the Trash TV. Television aiming the attention capture to sell it to marketing is strongly incited to prefer regressive and transgressive contents, in which drives find an archaic object of expression. In that regard, the history of MTV from rebel, that is transgressive, to product placement is a first-quality illustration:
Advertisers looked at MTV and knew they were getting a viewing environment in which it made less and less sense to separate selling from entertainment and consumption from enjoyment. MTV's programming amounted to almost a complete context of selling. – (Pettegrew 1992)
This hijacking of the 1960s counterculture by marketing is also easily observable in the exploition of the aspiration for individualized production rather than the formerly standardized consumption inherited from fordism (Floris & Ledun 2005). The transformation of the system toward a greater valuation of the expression of the self, of every singularity and its singular potential, was adopted and its tremendous energy extensively used to make the marketing paradigm evolve in parallel to the development of design as a major pillar to the product development. Through this updated marketing paradigm, every consumer would find the product appropriated to the expression of its inner personality: Think different! The power of products as a social marker reaches a new high and advertisement find a new motto, the new expression of its essential mission in its attempt to make the symbolic milieu the ally of sells: being cool (Frank 1998).
40 years later, the summit of design that is Apple is able to satisfy hundreds of millions of those different, unique, singular customers – but in fact hypersynchronized individual in their diverted identification process and canalized libidinal energy – with a single product.
2.4.4 Esprit resources shortage
220.127.116.11 Destruction of the attention and hypersynchronization of the object of attention
The capture of attention by psychotechnologies, financed by marketing for motivation production purposes, reaches a new high with the omnipresence of screens and digital social networks:
Since people are spending more time away from home, marketers are spending more money on bringing TV to you: in shopping malls and in grocery stores […] and of course, advertising reaches people on computers and movie screens. – (Johnson 2009)
Far from returning the trend and to produce a new capacity of attention as multidirectional psychotechnologies, digital social networks and the Internet at large constitute a new playground for advertisers, pushing this revolutionary technology allowing peers to connect worldwide toward an Internet Marketing contest mainly through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, that is the articulation of variably fair ruses – the fairness distinguishing whitehat from blackhat SEO practitioners – to, schematically, appear first on Google search engine for the keyword that capture enough traffic to sell proportional amount of attention to advertisers. Regarding facebook, the biggest digital social network at the time this paper is written, the problem of how to monetize this unprecedented amount of attention gathered in a place is still the subject of controversial debate illustrated by the doubts around Facebook IPO: if it already represent a "$3 billion-a-year advertising business" there are serious doubts around advertisers "money's worth" (Vranica & Raice 2012). The efficiency of such diluted ads is clearly more difficult to measure and to make profitable than at "the golden age of television, [when] an ad on one of the big three [US] networks could reach 70 percent of the viewing audience" (Johnson 2009) and when the attention capacity was less diluted: the multi-tasking or permanent zapping is naming an era of great attention dilution.
In front of the hypersynchronizational trend created by program industries and advertisement at large, one's might have hope that the decentralized network that is the internet would have annihilate such a trend, but far from being annihilate, the rush for clicks with a SEO purpose – with an extension of the optimization for social networks – tend to create what could be described as a decentralized hypersynchronization of contents – commonly called a buzz – in such a way that a minor event such as a rumor of a bug on Facebook or an update of an Apple product, release the rush for attention between bloggers: by doing so, they hope to exploit the symbolic capital already constituted by those successful brands to catch a part of the attention pie. This movement of the treatment of news website relying on advertisment could illustratively be compared to the planetary accretion process: a lot of matter ends by the force of gravity to create a few giant objects around originally already big objects, surrounded by a few asteroids and the intersidereal void. This new layer in the field of attention capture that are ubiquitous laptop, smartphones, tabelts screens contribute to create new pathologies and attention disorders:
The capture of attention by technological means is a global phenomenon (affecting all continents), a massive one (affecting all generations and all social strata) and totally new: the length of capture has now reached 6 hours a day in the USA, not to mention the phenomena of hyper-attention, to use the term of Katherine Hayles, which provoke a splitting of attention between several media simultaneously, and which motivate the Kaiser family foundation to modify its figures – increasing the average number of hours to 8 and a half per day for American adolescents. Humanity has never experienced such a phenomenon of synchronised and hyper-realist collective hallucination, and the consequences of these facts on psychical and collective individuation are as yet hardly theorized, although they are beginning to enter as objects of the study of psychopathology, or investigations in the human sciences, for example the case of the syndrome of cognitive saturation. – (Stiegler 2008a)
Attention, that is explicitly thought as a major resources through the works on the attention economy (Davenport & Beck 2001) is suffering from a never previously experienced shortage, which is the first shortage leading to a crisis of the esprit life, the second one being the one created by the destruction of desire.
18.104.22.168 Libidinal energy exhaustion
This regressive, drive-oriented marketing that emerged with the carte blanche of the baby-boomers counterculture, flatting the transgressive penchant of youth – penchant inherent to the psychic construction toward adulthood and majority but never exploited in such an industrial way before – constitute a short-circuit of the sublimation circuit, leading to the liquidation of the social energy that is desire. In that regard, marketing acts like a "parasite" of society, diverting the psychic energy that are drives in order to create buying motivation, acting like a free-rider on the psychic resources created through the long and "expensive" process of education produced by the social organization and structured by intergenerational relations. But even the free-rider doesn't try to sink the ship he freely travels in: marketing careless behavior produce tremendous – while largely neglected – externalities. This short-circuit of sublimation, that is to say of the idealization process that is at the heart of civilization, divert the libidinal economy and result in an exhaustion of psychic and social resources, ending in a symbolic misery and produce disaffected individuals suffering a loss of the sense of the self. Indeed, the destruction of desire, and thus in the taste – la saveur – for life isn't sustainable:
The desire which balanced and linked [drives] has disappeared. This is the moment when one passes from cheerful consumption, which believes in progress, to miserable consumption, where the consumer feels he regresses and suffers from it. – (Stiegler 2006b)
2.4.5 Trans-individuation short-circuit, disaffected individuals, symbolic misery
The originally liberating movement of consumerism, associated with the symbols of a society freeing itself from old social schemes, such as religion or the familial authority, ends in the other extreme that is a generalized nihilism, in which the market progressively conquered every field of existence, offering services and pushing them through massive unidirectional psychotechnologies-based advertisement campaigns, from how to distract children to how to meet love: "there is an application for that".
In hyperindustrial society, where everything becomes a service—that is, marketed relations and objects of marketing—life has been completely reduced to consumption, and the effects of psychic disindividuation completely rebound upon collective individuation […] Public life is, then, destroyed: psychic and collective individuation become collective disindividuation. There is no longer anyus; there is only the they, and the collective, whether it be familial, political, professional, confessional, national, rational or universal, is no longer the bearer of any horizon: it appears totally void of content. – (Stiegler 2006b)
Unable to take part to the transindividuation, the disaffected individual that is the individual suffering from an hypersolicitation of attention and an affective saturation is missing the opportunity to raise up itself in the symbolic milieu: paying for services saving him to take the intellectual long circuits that is the work of life knowledge development, the spoiled child's system of meanings tend to turn toward more extreme ways of experience than those canned-life experiences, extreme ways that tend to be destructive. The disaffected individuals become indifferent
toward their parents and to everything around them, and provokes as well a generalized apathy supercharged with menace—of which the monstrous heroes of Gus Van Sant's Elephant are the symbols. […] There are human wastelands like there are industrial wastelands. Such is the redoubtable question of the industrial ecology of the spirit. – (Stiegler 2006b)
I.The notion of ethical marketing
II. Analyze of marketing’s impact on individual and collective psychology with Bernard Stiegler’s work
III. Difficulties and opportunities to implement a transindividuation-friendly marketing
- Lexic of non-english words
Quoted text isn't affected by this license.