>> And another practical example: if people weren't so concerned
>> with being unique individuals, and expressing that individuality
>> with a unique constellation of products such as clothes,
>> music, stereo equipment, and cars, the capitalist economy would
>> be in a world of hurt.
and / dave / replied:
> Isn't it more accurate to say that people pay lip service to an
> ideal of individualism, but in practice this takes the form of
> its opposite?
And I say: What / dave / said. People may try to arrange "clothes, music, stereo equipment, and cars" in unique constellations, but these are all mass produced items--and it seems that regardless of industry, the number of producers of a given item are shrinking. This is even (maybe especially?) true of so-luxury items: most cigar brands are produced by either General Cigar, Consolidated Cigar, or Arturo Fuente; Jim Beam pretty much has a monopoly on premium bourbons. These things offer the *illusion* of distinction, and individual choice, but they only exist because of choices already made in the good old sphere of production, and consequently whatever distinction and individuality they offer is pre-fabricated. Meanwhile, M->C->M' keeps on chugging away...