Saturday, November 26, 2011

On Black Friday

I have things to say about "Black Friday" - and they aren't good.

One of the great distinctions of the modern age is between genuine tradition - the handing down from generation to generation of ideas and practices that people organically over time found to be good - and artificial imposition of ideas and practices via schooling and/or the media. "Black Friday" is a product of the latter, that is, it is manipulation of the public by the businessmen who own the media and the owners of the businesses in general. It is incentive to unnatural behavior that a free people would not consent to engage in. It is a selling out of our freedom and dignity in the name of materialism. It shows that we can be induced to do nearly anything for "a good deal" and, as has been pointed out, even trample over others' rights and bodies in doing so. I can think of no nearer analogy than that of the behavior of sheep.

It is true that business manipulation is nothing new. "Happy Hour" and other discount hours are a normal thing. But most of those fall into patterns consistent with normal human life. Inducing people to do what they would otherwise never do, though, does not, and I think it difficult to argue that people, on the whole, would get up and go shopping at 5:00 am as a matter of course. There are exceptions, of course, as well as eccentricities, but this seeks to make a rule of the eccentricity, whose motivations are not benign or positively good, like a midnight Liturgy, but base and crass, mere material gain. As a "tradition", this is merely to our national shame, and having to explain such bizarre behavior to Russians who see that it is bizarre makes me feel that shame for my people.

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