Unfreedom in wants

Essays on technology, psycho­analysis, philosophy, design, ideology & Slavoj Žižek


May 26, 2011

Unfreedom in wants

In this comic, the artist objects to the cancellation of Stargate Universe by suggesting that the method that networks use to measure the popularity of TV shows is flawed because it relies on sampling rather than direct measurement. The implication is that this is old-fashioned, not an internet-age methodology where all views can be tracked and recorded.

What’s stunning is that here, monitoring of individuals by corporations is reframed as the individual’s right to be counted, almost as if registering one’s consumer habits is a form of voting. This is how consumerism is toxic to politics, because the aim of life is conceived as getting whatever you want, provided you are willing to pay. In this view, the problem with politics is that we express our desires at the ballot box and then often don’t get what we asked for because other people ruin it for us by making different choices. The solution is to convert political choices into consumer choices, where everyone can get what they really want (provided they can pay.)

Beginning in the 60s, the public accepted the idea that voting is a mode of individual self-expression, but it quickly became clear that its a much more frustrating way of doing that. So we took choices out of the ballot and put them into the shopping catalog.