Sell Your Gold Now! America’s Propensity for Voluntary Enslavement
|Credit: Betty Longbottom|
The notion of freedom may seem innocuous and simple, but this is not so.
Thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Rudolph Steiner (and you can’t leave out Bill Maher) spent their careers observing the intersection between the masses and the individuals that seek to overpower them. They’ve concluded with an idea that would make the optimists amongst us uncomfortable: humans don’t want to be free.
Look at the ease with which whole nations submit to a dictator. Look at the deteriorating intelligence behind mainstream advertising, and at the way millions of Americans fail to question government tactics, ignoring the signs that they’ve been duped. Hell, look at the plot of “The Music Man.” People like routine and structure. Routine and structure are safe, and people like safety. They fear the unknown. People want to be told what to do.
It is for this reason, in part, that companies like Cash4Gold and their ilk have been so successful in the United States and elsewhere. By employing marketing techniques that target American vulnerabilities — most notably their fear of the plummeting economy and the desire for easy money — such businesses manage to manipulate consumers, triggering them to sell their valuables in the name of hope.
In a group that includes SellMyGold and GoldMaxUSA, Cash4Gold has cashed in on some very clever advertising ploys. Notoriously, they contracted MC Hammer as their spokesman — the rapper best known for rising swiftly to the top of the charts in the late eighties and filing for bankruptcy in 1996. Oh, and Hammer pants, of course. So what better face for a company that builds its success on the public’s terror of poverty than an iconic pop artist who himself suffered some hard times? You have to admit, it’s a smart tactical move.
This is the point Trey Parker was making in the March 21, 2012 episode of South Park, “Cash for Gold.” The corresponding company in the episode makes its money selling worthless jewelry to elderly customers. In the show, the company reminds the elderly of their imminent deaths and exploits their desire to leave a legacy (made of gold and cheap imitation gems like “Peridot Craponite”). South Park’s “Cash for Gold” plays up the value of each piece to make the jewelry seem like a steal.
Like the real-world companies, Parker’s fictional one finds that pressure point and then relentlessly milks it for profit. In the end, though, in spite of their indignation, even the South Park boys must admit that selling trinkets at top dollar to people, who will undoubtedly end up selling them back for almost nothing, makes for a pretty clever scheme.
However, Cash4Gold isn’t at the root of the problem. Nor are the credit card companies, government and big banks. Rather, it’s the willingness of consumers to believe and do anything they’re told.
Most people are probably guilty of this apathy. Being told “here is the truth, this is how you should act, look, speak, feel and think” is easier than dealing with the chaos of the world, because your faculties might not be enough armor against the forces against you. Being told what to do eliminates all of that annoying thought and introspection.
This propensity for voluntary enslavement just may be to blame for a vast majority of society’s glitches. Fashion, health, relationship standards, familial structures, professional goals, even morality – the list of things that have been completely homogenized due to most people’s ready and oblivious gullibility goes on and on. We are slaves, and we can’t keep misplacing the blame onto those who are merely guilty of opportunism. Nothing will stop such exploitation except humanity breaking open the chains.
On the bright side, people do seem to be waking up. Thanks to agents like South Park and the media controversies surrounding Cash4Gold, companies like these have been on America’s long list of current grievances — particularly among the countercultural sect. With any luck, this means that the general populace is taking a harder look at what drives and enables businesses like this. Society has always boasted a streak of social rebellion against the established paradigms. Now we can only hope for it to spread.
Maya Bornstein devotes most of her time to writing – professionally, creatively, and inevitably. Follow her on Twitter @mayabornstein