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Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

Posted: June 10, 2009 04:22 PM

Thanks The New Republic!


Authors these days are in down in the dumps. They have many good reasons. Print media is shriveling. Publishers are doing poorly. Readers' eyeballs wander all over the place. About the only venues that are thriving are digital outlets, like this one. I am hence especially grateful to The New Republic (TNR) for providing the space for long essays on complex subjects (at least, too complex for me to lay out in a short post what I believe needs to be said). Better yet, TNR added what publications call "art," which this time was not moronic.

Let me explain. When the print media publishes an article, they tend to first edit it and discuss with the author any and all changes--however small--they make to the text of the article. This often entails several rounds of queries and responses. However, when these publications add an illustration to the article--now found in practically all print media publications--they never bother to first show it to the author. Surprisingly, these images are often way off the mark, because whoever provided the illustration either was too rushed to read the article, did not enjoy it, or decided to follow his or her own drummer. However, in illustrating my essay on what we should shop (or not shop) after the current economic crisis is over, TNR got it just right. It provided the following illustration of a shopping cart that is broken open like a jail cell, allowing the human spirit to fly free.
2009-06-10-tnrimagesmaller.jpg
In comparison, the text of the article pales.

"Much of the debate over how to address the economic crisis has focused on a single word: regulation. And it's easy to understand why. Bad behavior by a variety of businesses landed us in this mess--so it seems rather obvious that the way to avoid future economic meltdowns is to create, and vigorously enforce, new rules proscribing such behavior. But the truth is quite a bit more complicated...The upshot is that regulation cannot be the linchpin of attempts to reform our economy...What needs to be eradicated, or at least greatly tempered, is consumerism: the obsession with acquisition that has become the organizing principle of American life... "The link to the economic crisis should be obvious. A culture in which the urge to consume dominates the psychology of citizens is a culture in which people will do most anything to acquire the means to consume...But it is not enough to establish that which people ought not to do...Consumerism will not just magically disappear from its central place in our culture. It needs to be supplanted by something..."

To read the full article in The New Republic, go here.
For more, please visit Amitai Etzioni's website here or contact him at icps@gwu.edu