The Dismantlers, as a nationwide group of anti-ad crusaders call themselves, aren’t violent or loud or clandestine. In fact, they invite the police to protest rallies where they deface signs. With a copywriter’s flair, one of their slogans warns: “Attention! Avert your eyes from ads: You risk being very strongly manipulated.”
“We challenge the mercantile society that destroys all human relationships, professional relationships, health, the environment,” said Alexandre Baret, 35, a founder of the group. “It’s a message that proposes to attack advertising as the fuel of this not very healthy society.”
“I think that when you get down to it, they are right,” said Marina, 33, a restaurant worker who stopped to see what the fuss was about in the Place Malesherbes. “Between TV, Internet and advertising billboards, we are told about consumption all the time.”
They’ve got a point. If we could just agree on values other than commerce, we could save ourselves participating in the giant open-air shopping mall of liberal democratic consumer societies — interestingly, all democracies become consumer societies because people given the choice will opt for consumerism. It’s easier.
But in order to agree on values, we have to see truths that not all can see, and that breaks up the Crowd — the mob of undifferentiated people who are united by self-interest so they can be manipulated, and defend each individual against obligation outside of the self.
So instead our world is covered in advertising. Good thinking, monkeys.