A Nation of Salesmen: The Tyranny of the Market and the Subversion of Culture

A Nation of Salesmen: The Tyranny of the Market and the Subversion of Culture

Earl Shorris

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0393036723

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The author makes use of his experience of in advertising, interviews with salesmen, philosophy, politics and economics to construct a critical account of selling throughout history, arguing the competitive ethic has led to a nation of soulless salespeople. First serial, Harper's.

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tidings” of Christianity. The concept is less clear in Judaism, more certain in Islam, subject to elegant variations among Buddhists. Kant’s three questions—What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope?—are answered for homo religiosus by the teachings of his religion, which are enforced by the varieties of immortality—paradise, hell, and so on.3 Homo Sapiens The religion of ancient Greece did not answer Kant’s questions well enough to satisfy the people. For one thing, the gods had too

honest-to-goodness truth?” She nodded. “Cross your heart?” The woman smiled at the childlike question. He fell down suddenly, and without making a sound. When the tiny woman came out from behind the counter, she found him crumpled among his things, looking pale, but otherwise quite comfortable. For a moment, she thought he was playing a trick on her. 1. It is evening, the order book has been put away, homo vendens, perhaps a commuter riding home on a train or a traveler settling down in a

there was no more credit, no more expansion; the salesmen had left the customers at an unbearable impasse. In a zero-sum economy, the salesmen could find no new customers; there was nothing left for them but to turn on each other in a struggle to increase their share of a stable or diminishing market. By the end of the 1980s, Fortune put its imprimatur on the new character of the salesman, advising its readers to “think murderous.”16 The grammar was a bit dicey and the advice less than original,

twentieth century it brings up the difficult question an old friend once posed to me. “What is art?” he asked, speaking of literature. “Is art ever like hotcakes, made especially for you?” What about painters? one might respond. Great portraits come to mind. And musicians serving at court? Mozart perhaps. There is always an audience, a consumer for art-citizens of Athens, Aztec nobles, whole dynasties of Chinese, merchant princes of the Renaissance, Elizabethan playgoers, certain members of the

started a mail order business, advertising sewing machines for just one dollar. As the dollars came in, Sears sent the merchandise out, but the promised sewing machine was nothing more than a needle and thread. Should SEWING MACHINE have been italicized, enclosed in quotation marks? “What,” one might ask, “is the meaning of a word?” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes the position that the meaning of a word can be found in the understanding of the unsophisticated in an increasingly

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