Updated: Dec 27, 2019
The commercial advertising industry has no justification to exist in this world. The very rationale for its existence is pure evil. Commercial advertising doesn't just prevent us from developing the courage and fortitude to forego our wants - it's even more sinister than that. It takes things that aren't even wants at all, and makes them into wants. It doesn't just sap our willpower to resist desire - it creates desire. Think about it. The sole purpose of consumer advertising and marketing is to create demand where there currently is none - to make people want things that they don't currently want. You didn't want it. You weren't even thinking about it. You were already content. It didn't even occur to you to need it, nor want it. It didn't cross your mind at all. Then you saw the ad. And then you started wanting it. And that's the whole purpose of advertising. How the F*** can anyone justify this? On a planet that's facing mass-extinction directly caused by over-consumption, where resources are finite and scarcity is already rampant and worsening, how can anyone justify an entire industry whose sole purpose is to increase the speed and ferocity by which you consume resources which you didn't even want to consume in the first place until the industry came along and convinced you to start wanting to consume them? This is madness. This is INSANITY. How can anyone look at this world, and determine that the main problem here is that people "aren't consuming enough", and we need some way to make them consume more? Even when they don't need what they're consuming? Even when they don't even WANT it? Needs vs. Wants If we say, "Needs should be fulfilled, but not wants", it calls to mind two problems. First, it conjures up images of a bleak, austere world that isn't very much fun. And second, how do we even decide what's a need and what's a want? How do we distinguish them? It can be a very blurry line, and consensus could elude us forever. But banning consumer advertising solves both of these problems. First, it won't make the world dull and gray, because all the same products that you already buy would still be available. You can still buy everything you want to buy. The only difference is, you'd no longer be poked and prodded and psychologically manipulated into buying them. And secondly, the very existence of an advertising/marketing campaign for a product means, inherently, that you don't actually want that product in the first place. The fact that you had to be manipulated, with state of the art psychological techniques, into wanting something, means that it's not only not a want, but not a need either. If you don't even want something, then it's obviously not a need! So the blurry line vanishes, and we don't even need to debate which side of it a previously advertising-dependent product falls on. In a world with advertising, you can be fooled into thinking you need something - but in a world without advertising, if you don't want something, you can be 100% sure you don't need it either. Advertising is what makes the wants/needs line a blurry one - and without advertising, the line becomes clear and crisp. Furthermore, the presence of constant advertisements everywhere contributes to the deterioration of the human mental condition, and is a major factor in the epidemic levels of mental illness and psychosis in modern society.
We know this is true. We know it's harmful. We treat it as a cliche that everybody knows. So why aren't we doing anything about it? When are we, as a civilization, going to grow the fuck up? Consumer advertising and marketing have no rationale for existing in a world of such dangerous over-consumption. This entire industry should be completely abolished and strictly banned, immediately.
Some questions and objections:
"What should be banned, and what should be allowed? What if I want to advertise a green product, like a solar panel? Should there be no way to connect people who want things to the things that they want? How will we find stuff?" First, there is a difference between letting people know where to find something they want, vs. making them want it.
There should be no advertising in public gathering spaces. If you're in the park, or walking down the street, you should not be subjected to psychological manipulation just so someone else else can make money. No outdoor ads. No billboards.
Storefronts can, of course, tell you the name of the store, and provide a summary of what they're selling. But no hyperbolic "ad-language", and no pictures beyond simple diagrams.
There is a difference between telling me that you've got cake to sell, vs. showing me a giant blown-up picture of cake, with all its gooey scrumptious texture, to make me want cake that I wasn't previously looking for.
"What about TV commercials and Youtube ads?"
TV commercials (and their internet counterparts, on Youtube et al.) are completely unnecessary. They ruin the freaking shows! We don't need commercials to provide funding for media platforms. Instead, we can run those platforms democratically, and provide funding directly, based on how valuable they are to society. We can direct funding to them by VOTE, with all of us having a direct say in it. We don't need to rely on the incidental support of corporations with crap to sell us.
For products that aren't sold in stores (i.e. those ordered online), a simple internet search will do. Or, if you prefer more traditional means that don't rely on the internet, there are catalogues. Or even word of mouth. How did people find things to buy in the olden days?
In summary, the advertising should not go searching for you. If you want something, you're perfectly capable of doing an internet search, or opening up a directory and browsing through it. Or going into town. Or asking a friend. There are so many ways to find things, without being bombarded by 10,000 other things in the process.
"How do you reconcile this idea with freedom of speech?"
Freedom of speech is an ultra-important, fundamental right. But commercial advertising is not speech. It's not designed to communicate any ideas. It's designed solely to make you buy things. Commercial means buying and selling.
We don't want to ban advertising for political events, rallies, non-profit organizations, and other causes that aren't commercial. Those are not what this article is talking about.
"How do you reconcile this with the principle of Benign Sovereignty in Title 1 of the Law of the Earth? What gives anyone the authority to use force to stop something that isn't violating anyone's rights?"
Oh but it is. If you have to be subjected by relentless bombardment with ads manipulating your psychology, that is a violation of your Right to Peace. And if it leads to extra, needless, superfluous destruction of Nature (by increasing consumerism), then that violates your Right to a Habitat. Banning commercial advertising is fully in line with the Law of the Earth.
"What do we do with all the now-unemployed advertisers, marketers, and all the people who worked in industries that sold pointless stupid consumer-crap products that were dependent on clever marketing and ubiquitous advertising to manipulate people into buying, and which will experience a plummet in sales (and thus massive layoffs) once advertising is banned?" Well, we have a plan for that! In the short-term, a UBI (Universal Basic Income) and other socialist policies will provide a safety net to break the fall. But those solutions aren't really sustainable - they're just band-aids. They're useful for stopping the bleeding... but they're not a permanent fix. In the long term, we need a new economic system entirely. We need Economic Democracy... ...which is part of the Blueprint for a Mature Civilization
Thanks for reading!
And for more on the history and dangers of commercial advertising, see this video:
Here's the link to the full documentary:
A Toxic System:
by Peter T. Knotter
Do your own thing...
But, Do it our way…
Dress your own way... But, Do it from our selection…
Talk about what you feel... But, Use our words…
Learn about life... But, Use our values…
Variety is the spice of life... But, Use our sauces…
Buy our drinks... But, Sclerosis is your problem…
Watch our programmes... But, Wasting time is your fault…
Use our cards... But, Poverty is your problem…
Buy our cheap goods again and again... But, Budget problems are yours again and again…
Aspire to what we have... But, Don't expect to get it.