"Consumerism was a way of giving people the illusion of control, while allowing a responsible elite to continue managing society."
Part 4 of Adam Curtis's documentary, The Century of The Self (part 1), chronicles how this consumerist mentality moved beyond the world of consumer goods to engulf democracy itself, first through the free-market politics of Reagan and Thatcher, and then through the focus-group politics of Clinton and Blair.
It makes a disturbing amount of sense. Voters now are individuals who simply follow their instinctive desires, and the role of politicians is to give us policies that enable those desires to be satisfied.
The documentary dates from 2002. I wonder what Curtis would make of the last ten years?