automobile ad

René Vincent, Cover art for Automobilia, July 1922. 

The car is a Peugeot 15 HP

René Vincent (1879-1936) was trained as an architect, but had a successful career as an illustrator during the first third of the 20th century in France. He contributed editorial art to the likes of La Vie parisienne and L'Illustration and did a considerable amount of advertising illustration, especially for automobile companies.

Isotta Fraschini Poster Ad, 1928.

Founded in 1900, Isotta Fraschini is historically known for creating some of the highest quality luxury cars ever made. In the 1920s, perceptive of the growth of the wealthy middle class in North America, the company began to market its deluxe cars to the new American elite. Film stars of the time, such as Rudolph Valentino drove cars produced by the brand, further increasing their appeal. This advertisement uses the image of an alpine scene to add allure and mystique to its product and entice its audience. Isotta Fraschini ended car production in 1949, but continued to produce trucks until 1955.

This car, a Delaunay-Belleville, was purchased in Frace for the Emperor Nicholas II in 1906. It was one of the first automobiles to be added to His Imperial Majesty’s personal garage at Tsarskoye Selo and one of the most luxurious vehicles of that times.

At the Photo: Empress Alexandra (the second from the left) and Emperor Nicholas II (on the horse) with others.

The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power

1. Reduce Democracy. Chomsky finds this acted on by the very “founding fathers” of the United States, in the creation of the U.S. Senate, and in James Madison’s statement during debate over the U.S. Constitution that the new government would need to protect the wealthy from too much democracy. Chomsky finds the same theme in Aristotle but with Aristotle proposing to reduce inequality, while Madison proposed to reduce democracy. The burst of activism and democracy in the United States in the 1960s scared the protectors of wealth and privilege, and Chomsky admits that he did not anticipate the strength of the backlash through which we have been suffering since.

2. Shape Ideology. The Powell Memo from the corporate right, and the Trilateral Commission’s first ever report, called “The Crisis of Democracy,” are cited by Chomsky as roadmaps for the backlash. That report referred to an “excess of democracy,” the over engagement of young people with civic life, and the view that young people were just not receiving proper “indoctrination.” Well, there’s a problem that’s been fixed, huh?

3. Redesign the Economy. Since the 1970s the United States has been moved toward an ever larger role for financial institutions. By 2007 they “earned” 40% of corporate profits. Deregulation has produced wealth concentration and economic crashes, followed by anti-capitalist bailouts making for more wealth concentration. Offshore production has reduced workers’ pay. Alan Greenspan testified to Congress about the benefits of promoting “job insecurity” – something those Europeans in Michael Moore’s film don’t know about and might find it hard to appreciate.

4. Shift the Burden. The American Dream in the 1950s and 60s was partly real. Both the rich and the poor got richer. Since then, we’ve seen the steady advance of what Chomsky calls the plutonomy and the precariat, that is the wealthy few who run the show and get all the new wealth, and the precarious proletariat. Back then, taxes were quite high on corporations, dividends, and wealth. Not anymore.

5. Attack Solidarity. To go after Social Security and public education, Chomsky says, you have to drive the normal emotion of caring about others out of people’s heads. The U.S. of the 1950s was able to make college essentially free with the G.I. Bill and other public funding. Now a much wealthier United States is full of “serious” experts who claim that such a thing is impossible (and who must strictly avoid watching Michael Moore).

6. Run the Regulators. The 1970s saw enormous growth in lobbying. It is now routine for the interests being regulated to control the regulators, which makes things much easier on the regulated.

7. Engineer Elections. Thus we’ve seen the creation of corporate personhood, the equation of money with speech, and the lifting of all limits under Citizens United.

8. Keep the Rabble in Line. Here Chomsky focuses on attacks on organized labor, including the Taft Hartley Act, but one could imagine further expansions on the theme.

9. Manufacture Consent. Obsessive consumers are not born, they’re molded by advertising. The goal of directing people to superficial consumption as a means of keeping people in their place was explicit and has been reached. In a market economy, Chomsky says, informative advertisements would result in rational decisions. But actual advertisements provide no information and promote irrational choices. Here Chomsky is talking about, not just ads for automobiles and soap, but also election campaigns for candidates.

10. Marginalize the Population. This seems as much a result as a tactic, but it certainly has been achieved. What the public wants does not typically impact what the U.S. government does.

—  Noam Chomsky