Dystopian Allure

Everywhere you look in popular culture you encounter dystopian imagery - the perpetual night of anarchy and "end-times" awaiting us. Best selling books and video games, movies and television - even advertisements portray a future of fear.

This short piece from the Baffler explores the uses of dystopian themes in marketing and their source, the “everlasting uncertainty and agitation” embedded in hyper capitalism and our psyches.


The market—or, at least, the idea of the market—possesses an energy and a logic that its opponents persistently fail to counter. The pro-capitalist reformers dismantling the welfare state and destroying the natural world invoke freedom and choice and flexibility, all of which are—like fitness, health and productivity—universally accepted as good things. Meanwhile, the Right strip-mines the social gains of the twentieth century, tapping into a genuine and legitimate hostility to sclerotic government bureaucracy, a popular disdain for the tut-tutting nanny state with its pettifogging regulations.

Everyone knows that the world’s hurtling to catastrophe. These days, capitalism makes no promise other than dystopia—but that dystopia still seem seems more attractive than the alternative. The Redrow London commercial, ghastly as it is, taps into the libidinal energy of capitalism, the “everlasting uncertainty and agitation,” in Marx’s words.

Read the entire piece and see the commercial referenced above here.