Commonplace Book #108

In the decades following the Civil War, American capitalism began to produce a distinct culture, unconnected to traditional family or community values, to religion in any conventional sense, or to a political democracy.  It was a secular business and market-oriented culture, with the exchange and circulation of money and goods at the foundation of its aesthetic life and of its moral stability…The cardinal features of this culture were acquisition and consumption as the means of achieving happiness, the cult of the new, the democratization of desire; and money value as the predominant measure of all value in society.

William Leach, Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Ruse of a New American Culture, 3.