We are witness not only to candy canes, flying saucers, blogging, and other excesses but also: to the astounding success of capitalism and diversity, religious tolerance and modernity. This is our system of liberal modernity, as it can be called, which, it must be said, can be conceptually opposed to what one highly accomplished Georgetown University scholar calls "puritanism" (I am not sure I am exactly duplicating his intent, or his context, so I wont give the name), or, more broadly, to any kind of rigid, fundamentalist or conformist, or single-themed regime. (Yeah! -- puritans, in beards. NO! -- I just dissed Solzhenitsyn, Allen Ginsburg and the Amish. Confucius anyone? Berlin had it correct: liberal modernity is "maddening")
But why does this liberal modernity work? I hold that choice works only when the individual appropriates one. It only works when the individual gets his own choice. He also wraps it up, takes it home with him/her. "Choice" does not exist on a shelf. It exists when it becomes part of an individual life. This consumer-commercial life is satisfying when we bring it home. The puppy looks cute in the store too but it's a different matter when you take her home. Then your kids can be happy; then it can shit on the rug.
If you did not bring it home? None of this could happen. No point in letting it sit in the store forever, anyway. But I am not saying that if you bring Barbie home, she comes to life. And I am not saying the pet shop should not be subject to regulation (i.e. when the puppy is still in the store!). I'm not saying any of that. I am asking why this "choice" or what is called liberal modernity exists.
I'm asking why do stars come out of Merlin's beard and he isn't a puritan after all but a saint.
I'm saying the consumer product works because we can take it home --- we can make it a part of our lives.