Down the Tube: Symbolic Form and the Failure of Reason in the Marketplace of Ideas | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 10, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717


The growth of an American television culture has been slowly poisoning free-market capitalism by eroding the very logic on which capitalism depends. Consumerism is creeping into place as the primary American economic system. The transition from a typographic era to a televised one, and the subsequent reduction in propositionally structured information, has capitalism in its death throes. The presentationally structured symbolic form of television's message is self-perpetuating, recruiting and retaining consumers unable to make rational judgments of value or utility. The universally beneficial survival of the fittest effect is adversely affected by television's dumbing-down effect. Techniques of television advertising, offensive to the rational mind, are emotionally soothing and reassuring. Consumers from a young age are gently cajoled, using presentationally structured techniques, to consume. Television has effectively replaced capitalism with a similar-looking but fundamentally different phenomenon, irrational consumerism driven by emotion. The promise of the mutually beneficial transaction may soon be mere artifacts of a typographic golden age.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): capitalism; consumption; information; rationality; television; typography
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