Origen of Consumer Culture
Americans weren’t always addicted to buying things. People used to save money for things they needed, but in the age of plenty that followed WWI, corporations countered the threat of overproduction with a psychological strategy.
Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers wrote: “We must shift America from a needs
to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old had been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality
in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”
This plan, enabled by new sophistication in advertising and supported by the government, was effective. For more on the origins of consumer culture, see
the BBC‘s documentary, ”Century of Self.” The film examines the "start of the
all-consuming self that has come to dominate our world today". It explains the role of Sigmund Freud's American nephew Edward Bernays who invented Public Relations in the 1920s -- the first to use Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses.
See the Summary of the DVD.