Is there any public discourse left, or has advertising, with its aggressive sales techniques, usurped the role of democratic, civil debate? Beginning in the 1960s, there was a proliferation of social, political, and corporate advertising in affluent, developed nations that spoke to the "public good" on everything from milk to family values. Surveying over 10,000 advertisements from the past 40 years, "Endless Propaganda" underscores the presence of advertising rhetoric, even in the context of apparently non-partisan collective health issues such as cancer.
The public sphere, argues Paul Rutherford, has been transformed into a huge marketplace of goods and signs. Civil advocacy has become a special art of authority that subjects politics, social behaviour, and public morals to the philosophy and discipline of marketing. Without suggesting that there is one simple way to understand the transformation that democracy has undergone because of this phenomenon, the author introduces and applies the cultural theories of several important philosophers: Habermas, Gramsci, Foucault, Ricoeur, and Baudrillard. The reader is thus given the necessary tools to critically examine the examples at hand and many others that exist beyond the pages of this study.