The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Would A World War Get The World Back On Track?
January 13, 2011, 6:25 am
Filed under: Comment

This is going to be a weird post … or weirder than usual … but it came about following a conversation I had last week with Steven Holtham, a professor of history from Utah.

We live in wonderful times.

Sure we’re still in the midst of a financial crisis [not that you’d know from the way certain people and industries are behaving] but for many around the World, they’ve literally never had it so good.

Of course I acknowledge there are many, many millions of people who are suffering – suffering in the most terrible and inhumane of ways – but for many, especially those in Western markets, the life they lead is the sort of thing their forefathers would classify as heaven.

But are they happy?

Well depending on the report you subscribe too, you could say they’re certainly not as happy as their everyday situation deserves but then, with so many having grown up in a society of general stability and affluence [even if it is interms of facilities and opportunities] is it any surprise that they don’t realise how fortunate they are.

But here’s the issue.

If we don’t address this entitlement inflation, we may end up in a situation where society either starts turning on itself or simply grinds to a halt.

OK, so that’s a bit dramatic – there will always be people who will ensure things ‘carry on’ – however if society continues to move forward without any frame of reference of hardship, suffering or togetherness, then we may end up with a population whose fickle behaviour and attitude will only be of benefit to marketers.

War changes everything.


Yes, I know we are all witnesses to that with Iraq, but we are passive observers.

The people living it are the people who are really learning from it.

Sure, there is the danger that some of the things they’re learning could lead to potentially terrible future consequences, but I doubt their concern is to ensure they have the new iPad or changing their job because they think they deserve more money even though they’ve only been there 6 months.

I appreciate this sounds – at best – like I’m advocating a strategy of fear or – at worst – world war, but I’m not … especially compared to the way some organisations and governments embrace this thinking to contain and control.

My point is if we only keep looking forward and either ignore – or glamorize – the pain, terror and tragedies of the past, then we may end up producing the sort of society our fathers, mothers and grandparents fought against … a society that doesn’t just produce selfishness, but meglamania.

There is an argument that everything in life has a ‘reset’ button when things are allowed to go on too far … I don’t know if that’s true, but if there ever was a time for a brand to start instilling values – not just material aspirations [ala my social capitalism rant] – then I would say that time is fast approaching.

36 Comments so far
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First. Got nothing else to say except I’m first. (I never read the posts)

Comment by Billy Whizz

Nice to see you’ve achieved your lifetime goal Billy. Congratulations.

Well this is certainly a departure from your previous posts and timed to coincide with Andy’s invasion of Buenos Aires, very smart.

I’m sure you’re not really advocating that a war would help the world be more appreciative of what it has but I understand where you’re coming from.

The sentiment is similar to your suggestion that Singapore should do away with its national service program and send its inhabitants backpacking which I’m sure would be much more widely embraced than global war.

I do agree that some governments are potentially focusing on issues that may neglect the general populations basic rights and needs and I agree that if handled sensitively, brands could help bridge this gap, but while brands can make huge profits from offering people momentary fulfilment, I think you may need to put in some more work before your social capitalism dream gets widely embraced.

Interesting post, I’ll be thinking about it for some time.

Comment by Pete

When I play call of duty I have a great time so I’d be happy for one of those world war things.

And I know you’re jealous of me Pete, always have, always will.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I knew you were lulling us into a false sense of security with your earlier posts.

Comment by DH

I didnt understand a word of that post.

Comment by John

That implies you understand words from some of his other posts.

Comment by DH

I know the poppy is used to remember the dead but don’t you think it’s time to update it? Maybe it could look like a target or to get the youngsters involved, something with hello kitty. Put it to crowdsourcing, they always get it right.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I had my cell cut off yesterday for not paying my bill. My life is shit.

Comment by DH

Another post I didn’t understand.

Comment by DH

If Rob had copied your comment properly, I may have liked this post more.

Comment by DH

Insane that you advocate war. How lucky you can be your family moved out of the country.

Comment by Evolution

how fucking insane you think campbell is advocating war. read his post and his comments without the red mist coming down around your head.

and what do you mean hes lucky his family moved out of the country? which family? which country?

fuck me, whats going on with the people coming on here these days?

Comment by andy@cynic

Please find a response to your comment (not the post) in the headline of today’s post. If this would just leave you with another question, alternatively, the first sentence of the post will do.

Comment by Evolution

you review books by their fucking title dont you. and judge people by their business card. it must be fucking awesome on your planet.

Comment by andy@cynic

Amazing what you seem to think you know about what I think and how. Twisting and projecting much? It is not awesome on my planet. But I am.

Comment by Evolution

i know you cant fucking read.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Evolution

I’m listening Pete, your words aren’t being wasted.

Comment by George

Look at the planners sticking together. Isn’t that the sort of attitude that starts wars in the first place? Rob will be proud or at least grateful.

Comment by Billy Whizz

The comments have helped a bit, but I’m still not sure.

It seems to me that your laudable idea would ultimately lead to the dominant values being those espoused by the businesses with the biggest wallets.

And don’t the media in many countries effectively do this already – and thereby prove that they don’t change minds they just attract like minds e.g. Fox News, The Guardian newspaper.

Comment by John

my mother and i had a massive argument once because she believes that we should all by nice and loving and just try to get along. and i’m of the terrible opinion that the nature of human beings (as social ones) is ultimately territorial, violent and selfish. i don’t think we have yet evolved to be truly, and globally, social.

which i think leaves us with two options, obviously: war. or evolution towards a greater social cohesion. and i agree that option one may actually be the horrible catalyst for option two.

but sadly, i don’t think any single (consumer) brand pyramid is going to change the course of that biology.

of course, i’m not a fucking professor from utah. or anything more ‘expert’ than an art blogger from the backwater, so it’s all just my little shitty opinion.

Comment by lauren

I believe Robert’s post is about reclaiming community and collaborative attitudes John. He may be using an explosive (no pun intended) suggestion but at it’s heart it’s about acknowledging that a generation without any relationship or experience with all encompassing sacrifice means they can have a focus driven more by self than appreciation of bigger issues.

Whether you agree with this is another thing but personally as a concept I can see the merit of his argument even if I question his approach. Maybe this is all because he has been in China too long even if he says the country is more capitalistic than communist these days.

Comment by George

If only you wrote this blog George, things would be so much clearer. The thesis is sound but the approach (as I believe you imply) is arguably naive. Though that’s just what you’d expect from a sandal-wearing leftie who’s been sent east to undermine the latest flowerings of benign capitalism.

Comment by John

I forgot about you mentioning this Niko – at least consciously – so I’ll let you explain it to Doddsy because I obviously have failed.

I appreciate I might be being hippieish or deluded … and the ‘war’ suggestion was dramatic to emphasise the point … but our ability to forget the lessons of history means I think it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets worse, ha.

Comment by Rob

I think I understand your idea Rob, and that it’s similar to the whole “there’s value in chaos” philosophy, but I’m not sure I agree with you and Niko.

Having experienced civil war very first hand in the 90s, I’ve witnessed too many people’s minds/lives completely fucked up [to this day] by seeing everything crumbling around them. And I think there are much better ways to learn not to be self-entitled, or turn to megalomania than to see things you love disappear.

Sure it’s perversely attractive in a let’s turn the page and start everything over kind of way, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

ps. I also know you’re not suggesting a war would be good in any way.

Comment by R

I think using the suggestion of war has overshadowed the point I was trying to make. It’s not about starting again per se, it’s about doing something dramatic that will force society to re-evaluate what is important and what they all can do to make things better for the wider society.

What so many people regard as hardship is an embarrassment, brought on by an over-pampered, entitled attitude life and it hurts me that my industry contributes to this when I believe it can still help cluents make money but in a less ‘exploitative’ manner.

Of course not everyone is like this but I do believe those who have faced – and conquered – adversity are in a better position to help the wider society be better than those who have never faced real barriers and challenges and so whilst the suggestion of a war is, in hindsight, not right … I also believe our willingness to move on from bad times without either appreciating what made it happen or the suffering it caused, equally as wrong.

This isn’t about holding grudges or putting people in fear, if done right, it’s about an undeniable statement of love to ensure no generation in the future gets left behind from mistakes of the past.

Still confused?

Yeah, so am I and yet it made so much sense in my head.

Comment by Rob

But does dramatic work? Will the flooding change attitudes in Australia? Or the shooting in Tucson? Or, or, or.

Continuous radicalism, that’s what you need.

Comment by John

That’s the thing John, we’ve become so aclimatised to this sort of thing that I fear the ‘reset button’ has to be extreme to the nth degree to get through.

Comment by Rob

The problem lies surely with parents who don’t give their kids a realistic view of the world. We are designed to want to provide, so only fear will get in the way.

It would work, but at what cost?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

It’s more than just parents though isn’t it.

Sure, they hold the majority of the role, but the way society is set up – and being set up – means to step away takes more effort than to seemingly keep going.

It might sound simplistic, but ensuring educational policy places a greater appreciation on the value of ‘history class’ may help, but with schools focused on being a production line for banking execs so they can say how great they are [and be rewarded for that] keeps the emphasis on selfishness and not wider awareness.

I know I am sounding like a madman – and I have to say, I know I have not explained myself properly – but I believe that frames-of-reference are massively important and influential and with a generation being taught that instant gratification is OK, I worry that this may lead to greater disconnection and all the implications that may arise from that.

I think I’m going to go home and lie down, I’m confusing myself.

Comment by Rob

Sounds like a similar dilemma to the economic one that puts all of our effort into growth and rising growth regardless of all else. Everyone owes everyone and no one can pay it back as they say…

Charles will be able to explain that much better!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

“with a generation being taught that instant gratification is OK, I worry that this may lead to greater disconnection and all the implications that may arise from that.”

rob m: i think blaming parents is a bit naive and ignores the fact that parental influence is only part of the makeup of a human being. if it was all parental influence, you wouldn’t have a social species.

rob c: this is going to sound very sanctimonious of me (and is not intended to make your headache worse), but show me an ad/marketing person who hasn’t ever leveraged an idea on this kind of gratification and i’ll marry them.

Comment by lauren

I probably should have made it clearer that I don’t think parents are solely responsible! But they do have a big part to play in making people understand the world they go into.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Lauren: I think blaming biology is a bit naive and ignores the fact that biology is only part of the makeup of a human being. If it was all biology, you wouldn’t have a social species.

Lauren: This is going to sound very sanctimonious of me (and is not intended to make your headache worse), but show me a person who hasn’t ever leveraged an idea on this kind of bullshit and i’ll marry them.

Comment by Evolution

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