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Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't Be Jammed Paperback – Jul 18 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 18 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006394914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006394914
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #69,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From Amazon

If we all hate consumerism, why can't we stop shopping? This is one of the curious ironies that Canadian philosophers Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter ponder in their provocative book about the counterculture and progressive politics. In The Rebel Sell, they take issue with the misconceptions of the anti-globalization movement and others who purport to resist a corporate-dominated world, like No Logo author Naomi Klein. Heath, a philosopher at the University of Toronto, and Potter, a researcher at the University of Montreal, bemoan the fact that the "counterculture" has replaced socialism as the basis of radical political thought since the '60s. They suggest that anti-globalization activists and writers like Klein claim to oppose consumerism and corporate malfeasance while offering solutions that merely reinforce capitalism.

Heath and Potter take the reader on an absorbing tour of Western thought and the philosophical origins of the countercultural movement in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. The authors suggest that these three figures gave rise to the notion that society dupes people into conformity and the belief that, as in the The Matrix movies, we have only to free our minds to start a revolution. Heath and Potter say this non-conformist ideal--which is the basis of today's countercultural movement--is actually at the heart of modern consumerism, too. Capitalism sells people "cool" stuff like SUVs and hip clothes as a way for us to stand out and be different from the crowd. In this way, the counterculture, which advocates such consumeristic "rebellion" as the key to revolution, merely helps capitalism renew itself. At times, The Rebel Sell engages in petty personal attacks against Klein and other anti-corporate activists and, in some cases, misrepresents their viewpoints, but the book is still fascinating, well-argued, and an important contribution to progressive thought. --Alex Roslin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“[Heath and Potter] are the genuine article: intellectual martyrs fighting the good fight.” (Rex Murphy)

“This is controversial stuff. . . . A thought-provoking look at the effectiveness of ‘sticking it to the Man’ . . . Recommended reading for anyone with an interest in social justice and the evolution of economics.” (Calgary Herald)

“An incisive and witty indictment of consumer trends.” (BusinessWeek)

“The counterculture is not just a failure, but a harmful illusion.” (The Globe and Mail)

“A brave book.” (The Guardian (UK))

“Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter argue convincingly--and just snidely enough--that while the counterculture purports to be a force against capitalism, it’s more like oxygen feeding the fires of consumption.” (Eye Weekly)

“A compelling read, proposing ways for us serfs to combat the brandlords.” (Focus)

“I thoroughly recommend The Rebel Sell.” (Grayson Perry, Winner of the Turner Prize and Author of The Descent of Man)

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