After the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, another form of atheist materialism has unfolded its ideology. This is the Disneyland civilization. Branding in the Disneyland civilization has two actors on which I am focusing: companies and consumers. I wrote about companies from this perspective in the last month’s article . It’s the time I wrote about consumers in this second part.
Disneyland civilization, the new postmodernist culture
<<The message of this universal temptation that attacks men today—quite openly in its secular forms, but usually more hidden in its religious forms—is: Live for the present, enjoy yourself, relax, be comfortable. Behind this message is another, more sinister undertone that is openly expressed only in the officially atheist countries which are one step ahead of the free world in this respect. In fact, we should realize that what is happening in the world today is very similar whether it occurs behind the Iron Curtain or in the free world. There are different varieties of it, but there is a very similar attack to get our soul. In the communist countries which have an official doctrine of atheism, they tell quite openly that you are to: Forget about God and any other life but the present; remove from your life the fear of God and reverence for holy things; regard those who still believe in God in the “old-fashioned’ way as enemies who must be exterminated. One might take, as a symbol of our carefree, fun-loving, self-worshipping times, our American “Disneyland“>>
The citizen of Disneyland is politically correct and interested in interculturality. Intercultural knowledge can logically be achieved first of all by listening. But the desire to understand Disneyland citizens towards a culture excludes its economic, political, and religious aspects. Let’s see, first of all, what culture means.
Culture and ignorance
Culture has three possible different meanings:
“a) excellence of taste in the humanistic and fine arts, also known as high-class culture;
b) an integrated pattern of knowledge, behavior, beliefs, human behaviors, which depend on the capacity to think symbolically and on the social learning;
c) a set of attitudes, values, goals, and practices shared which characterize an institution, an organization or a group”.
The first meaning of culture (a) is given by the educational training of the individual, and it is usually studied in school. According to the second meaning (b), the individual is firstly required to have a symbolic thinking capacity. This capacity comes from understanding the associations between the graphic signs and their abstract significance. Symbolic thinking is an intellectual operation of structure, strategy, which is essential in branding.
The concrete blends with the abstract, and the result is an association. As it is easy to remember, precisely this association brings people together, creating a culture around one or several symbols. Control an abstract symbol , and you will control all its concrete associations, for which the consumers will pay (c).
In the corporate world, the brand is the position that is occupied by the preference for a certain product or service in the mind of the consumer. The brand is conceived by the organization as an association between the trademark and a product/service. The company owns the trademark, ideally controls the brand, but the position is in the mind of the consumer.
For the Disneyland citizen, the empiric approach to life can be exciting, while the analytical one can be boring (he doesn’t like to read the news or understand the political and economic events) and conditions. This is the famous ignorance that brings transitory happiness.
“To be ignorant is not to be freed of knowledge. Ignorance itself is the lack of self-consciousness; and knowledge is ignorance where there isn‘t any self-understanding.” [editor’s note: The highlights are mine] 
Ignorance in the new millennium is no longer defined as a lack of knowledge but as a certainty of knowledge when it does not exist anymore . Knowledge , under its informational form, is so available through technology, that it has become optional. Culture, in its essence, in terms of the second definition, illustrates knowledge but conditions it by the ability to relate concrete with the abstract. Thus, the Disneyland citizen, deprived of the ability to relate the abstract to the concrete, becomes the slave of all symbols whose meaning he does not know but accepts. Most often, he will deny or minimize his responsibility as part of a consumerist culture .
The individual, as a member of collectivity, gets close to those with whom he feels mutual cultural traits, and he differentiates himself from them by distinctive personality traits .
Ignorance as a sword separating the abstract from the concrete
The fact that those controlling information lead the world is due especially to this form of above-mentioned ignorance, at two levels. The empirical Disneyland citizens which are led by others can never manage to understand that they are led (or by whom) because they do not own the capacity of symbolic thinking. The ignorance of some of these is complete and sublime, as they live in a parallel world, a world of their own, which works as long as it does not interfere with the larger world. Their own world is nothing but a prison, whose area diminishes in time.
The second and most dangerous level, where ignorance works, is that of self-knowledge. The essence of the Disneyland civilization is not that it is apparently tailored according to people’s desires but that the people’s identities are tailored according to the production capacity of the corporation manufacturing the product. The following question shall no longer be asked: “who is the most Nike of your friends” but whether “you deserve to be Nike” .
The theory of social learning, derived from the work of Albert Bandura  deals with the 4 stages: close contact, imitation of superiors, understanding of concepts, and taking over a model. This perspective has proved to be the equidistance of clinical psychology and cognitive-behavioral psychology. For these four phases to take place, i.e. so that social learning would occur, one needs the contribution of psychological and environmental causes. Thus, people would change their behavior: remembrance (to remember what one has noticed), reproduction (to accurately replicate the behavior), and motivation (a meaning, a reason why this would happen).
However, the Disneyland citizen does not need to remember because he has everything a click away. He is not able to replicate the invisible associations of symbols but only what the owners of the brands want, all the more so as the information in the consumer’s brain is the private property of the company that put it there. Eventually, the Disneyland citizen has no transcendental motivation, but only the one to feel good in the transiency of the present moment. He cannot control culture. Culture controls him. The culture of the Disneyland civilization, which is limitless, has no religion, no politics, no history, but has brands , that the citizens of this “culture” do not understand but to which they respond. Such automation would have made Pavlov resize his experiments.
When the civilization where you live in, and which you are looking for practices a culture of deindividualization, self-knowledge is no longer difficult to obtain (like a goal beyond the obstacle of ignorance) but becomes a non-sense. Those who are looking for themselves will keep looking, without the real hope of discovering themselves, deprived of the abilities to understand what is happening with them and around them.
I have thus illustrated, in the two parts of this article, two truths that co-exist:
1. Certain companies can go from their right to promote their services and products through branding to the freedom of transforming the civilizations if they can manage that.
2. Certain consumers let their spirit and soul slide towards the cheerful identity of a nobody from the Disneyland civilization.
I wish the view of branding thus shared inspired respect both for the consumers as people (and not as persons ), and for the quality of a product or service which deserves a better place on the market. In the balance between these two, lies, in my opinion, a significant part of the ethics of the marketing and/or public relations strategist profession. .
1 Grant, Marcus Victor (July 24th, 2018). Plea for branding in the Disneyland civilization. Part I. The companies, Analytic Vision, https://analyticvision.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/plea-for-branding-in-the-disneyland-civilization-part-i-the-companies-by-marcus-victor-grant/
2 Rose of Platina, Seraphim (1982) The Orthodox World-View, The Orthodox Word, vol. 18, no. 4 (105), July-August 1982, pp. 160-176, translated from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/rose_wv.aspx
5 Krishnamurti, Jiddu Telugu, based on a translation at Smt. Abburi Chaya Devi; Visalandhra Publishing House, Abids, Hyderabad Commentaries on Living, First Series, p. 26
6 Grant, Marcus Victor (November 5th, 2013). In cautarea (?) sandalelor de aur, Discerne, http://discerne.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/in-cautarea-sandalelor-de-aur/
7 Sf. Paisie Aghioritul. Despre iubire si cugetare. http://discerne.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/despre-iubire-si-cugetare-de-sf-paisie-aghioritul/
8 Polyp. It’s Not Me, http://polyp.org.uk/cartoons/consumerism/polyp_cartoon_enough.jpg
9 Grant, Marcus Victor (January, 21st 2014). Articole despre structuri ale personalitatii, Discerne https://discerne.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/articole-despre-structuri-ale-personalitatii-2/
10 Polyp. Just Do It, http://polyp.org.uk/cartoons/consumerism/polyp_cartoon_pod_people_nike.jpg
11 quoted in Social Learning Theory
14 Ce înseamnă ”to discern”, ”discerning” și ”discernment” în engleză (March 2nd, 2013), Discerne, https://discerne.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/ce-inseamna-to-discern-discerning-si-discernment-in-engleza/
15 John Harris. It’s an Illusion, video presentation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOOF5uOcah0
16 Grant, Marcus Victor (December 7th, 2017). Why Public Relations Are Not Marketing, Analytic Vision, https://analyticvision.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/why-public-relations-are-not-marketing-by-marcus-victor-grant/
Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2011-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Pledoarie pentru branding in civilizatia Disneyland. Partea II. Consumatorii” was initially published in Romanian on 31.03.2014 on the magazine Economia Online. Text Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. Originally written in 2011.