Capitalism’s Knife Forge

Jakarta, September 2005

I saw an ad for ITKP today. The ad was in Kompas. I’ve ‘competed’ with them in the past, ITKP; back in college. In a competition called InterAD. I had participated twice in InterAD.

When I first saw the ad the first thing I did was ask my brother, who was sitting at our dinner table having breakfast, “Is she interested at all,” she being my younger sister, whom had just graduated high-school, “in studying advertising?”

I asked that because in my mind the best advertising school in Indonesia is not my ad faculty, not Periklanan Komunikasi UI. In my mind the best was ITKP.

Its like almost all the coolest Ad teachers at my place also taught there. And its like they’re more focused and stuff. Like in several InterAds there was both a team from UI and a team from ITKP, and the ones who made it to Asia Pacific was the ITKP team. In more recent times there were three, one from S1 UI, one from D3, and one from ITKP, but that’s another story.

But if there’s one thing wrong with ITKP that I can think of, its that ITKP has no contact whatsoever with the most basic of social sciences. At least the humanitarian part. And thats dangerous, because marketing communications is a knife.

When doing advertising, or any sort of promotion or marketing communication, even when making simple, below-the-line, extreme low cost advertising, such as making a simple hand-written brochure to be planted on the school bulletin board, you gotta realise that you are disturbing one of the most precious of social fabrics. That of Adam Smith’s supply and demand.

But everyone’s doing it, doesn’t that mean that we should too? As stupid a logic as it is, crowd mentality, I would have to agree that yes, everyone must do it. And that’s the thing, you know, the essence of free-fight liberalism. Compete or get sidelined. Fight or perish. Eat or be eaten. Survival of the fittest.

As much as I admire natural selection for the progress it has ushered (let’s assume its progress for the sake of argument, at least for this moment; I know very well that this, and the modernism resultant, is debatable), there has always been something of an itch at the crow of my back that I just can’t seem to scratch. I mean yeah, even the Bible says “many are called but few are chosen,” but the Bible can hardly be taken as scientifically empirical evidence now can it? And if we argue to the side of progress, well is it progress when to survive we have to live inside a towering glass cage for half our life to achieve the kind of capital to be considered ‘succesful’ by society? Yeah its debatable.

Anyway that’s the thing. ITKP graduates I’m sure will become great craftsmen and women of the Advertising arts, but there is a very real danger that they don’t have any idea of the social, humanitarian, moral consequences of their business actions. If they can learn it on their own, great. But that’s an awful big if, considering the neoliberal economy that we are all living in. My sister has a gang that’s proud to label themselves materialistic. They have a very solid argument that everyone has got to gather capital to survive, much less to be succesfull. That’s very true. Too true, in fact.

Homo homini lupus. [/howl]

Originally published at (my old blog, an earlier version of the mind-Dumpster). First drafted on September 27, 2005, and published on November 12, 2007; back when I was still in college studying communications studies and advertising at Universitas Indonesia.

I’m thinking of republishing some of my old blog posts from the mind-Dumpster periodically. Look at my old blogdrive dashboard, see what I can pull, etc., since I don’t have any way to rescue all of my writings from blogdrive except by copy-pasting them one by one. But that’s another blog topic I suppose…


Author: Ferdi Zebua

For more info visit my blog, my Google+, or my Ello.

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