In their classic imperialist capitalistic fashion the west, particularly the cunning British, manipulated the world into unfettered consumerism by peddling their materialistic mumbo jumbos and exploiting the naive mentality of the common man inducing the use a previously unused item, soap, into the daily routines of masses.
They did this by feeding on the ancient instinct of man of purging the impurities and sugarcoated it with the syrup of civilization as pretext to market it. Throughout the 1800s soap gradually gained acceptance in use among people with other increase in use of other non-productive items. Consumption beget consumption and the trend was shoved in other parts of the globe exacerbating the waste of planet’s resources.
People started evaluating material wealth of a person as indicators of how much their worth should be. This equivalence of affluence with status became a social norm rather than what it should have been, an abomination. That model of mindless consumption was unsustainable and has now been showing its drastic results in the form of extreme imbalances in the earth’s natural environment. The social fabric of human society, particularly the British, got estranged into unidentified dimensions. Like George Orwell said that it is the corruption of thought that then corrupts the language and hence politics, it is the same for advertising how it went from informing the consumers to misinforming the public. The thought that no army can stop an idea whose time has come was hijacked by the callas advertisers of the Victorian times to propagate the use of soap in an age where the concept of cleansing was promoted relentlessly as being an integral part of civilization and hence the masses at large fell pray to it.
And the problem with it is not only class divisions in the society but an even worse form, racism. It institutionalized racism in every major faction of the society. This level of mass mind control epitomizes the cunningness of mankind if they put their mind if they put their minds to it. According to this example a commodity can be made indispensible even without its any actual role in history using social manipulation techniques and the industrial revolution was based on this much deeper philosophy than your run of the mil literate person would like to think.
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This fact is proven through the historical citations in the text. What we are now used to everyday , advertising, was once considered to be a pathetic endeavor for a business but conjured up the remarkable story of soap consumption on biblical proportions.