It's something most of us have sensed for years-the rise of a world defined only by "mineâ€ ? and "now.â€ ? A world where business shamelessly seeks the fastest reward, regardless of the long-term social consequences; where political leaders reflexively choose short-term fixes over broad, sustainable social progress; where individuals feel increasingly exploited by a marketplace obsessed with our private cravings yet oblivious to our spiritual well-being or the larger needs of our families and communities.
At the heart of The Impulse Society is an urgent, powerful story: how the pursuit of short-term self-gratification, once scorned as a sign of personal weakness, became the default principle not only for individuals, but for all sectors of our society. Drawing on the latest research in economics, psychology, political philosophy, and business management, Paul Roberts shows how a potent combination of rapidly advancing technologies, corrupted ideologies, and bottom-line business ethics has pushed us across a threshold to an unprecedented state: a virtual merging of the market and the self. The result is a socioeconomic system ruled by impulse, by the reflexive, id-like drive for the largest, quickest, most "efficientâ€ ? reward, without regard for long-term costs to ourselves or to broader society.
More than thirty years ago, Christopher Lasch hinted at this bleak world in his landmark book, The Culture of Narcissism. In The Impulse Society, Roberts shows how that self-destructive pattern has grown so pervasive that anxiety and emptiness are becoming embedded in our national character. Yet it is in this unease that Roberts finds clear signs of change-and broad revolt as millions of Americans try step off the self-defeating treadmill of gratification and restore a sense of balance. Fresh, vital, and free of ideological, right-wing/left-wing formulations, The Impulse Society shows the way back to a world of real and lasting good.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm in agreement with Macleans, Publishers Weekly, and E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post: The Impulse Society is challenging, thought-provoking, and in the end a highly constructive contribution to the public discourse about how Americans are, and should try to be. Roberts’ book is well-written, well-documented, and well-meant -- a call for self-examination and sanity. Strongly recommended.
`A society is made up of individuals who strive to mould it into the ideal society' - is this statement right? Roberts thinks that it was right but the modern society is driven by a vast market economy that promotes immediate gratification, and technology that enables the market to manipulate the individual. The result is that the individual is being moulded to see himself (and not his society) as the centre of the universe.
The market-driven economy goes for immediate rewards and quick fixes. It is addicted to constant growth that is measured by higher figures and greater numbers. Quality and values are suffocated by quantity and size. Innovations once seen as the means to improve the productivity of the worker is now used to improve the productivity of capital. Roberts blames the widening income gap to the twin evils - market economy and technology. We must not forget Adam Smith's warning: 'No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of...
A great read. Whether I like to admit it or not, a lot of non-fiction leaves me bored and distracted. Not so with this book. I found myself wandering around my house trying to get things done while still reading it -- I literally couldn't put it down. Roberts is so good at is making the reader feel smart -- he doesn't dumb anything down, but it's so compellingly and clearly presented you sail along with him so easily. Even better, just like in "The End of Oil", which I also loved, you feel upon reading this that you've just seen the curtain pulled back on some very fundamental workings of our society. Many moments of revelation to be had here.
Despite its compelling readability, I did find it personally challenging. Like everyone else I'm sure, I recognized myself too many times -- my distractability and my addiction to my phone, the political echo chamber I live in, etc. I'd like to think of myself as superior on those fronts, but this book made me acknowledge that...
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