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By Russ B
Today the NYT has an article exploring why American workers are so docile in the face of such abusive treatment as they've recieved from the system.
I agree with the basic analysis that it's a combination of top-down suppression and bottom-up character failings endemic to America. Here's a few thoughts on the piece:
This sums up the comprehensive carrot/stick social control plan:
1. Seduce the American with get-rich propaganda and visions of materialist hedonism, and actually make alot of this worthless junk "affordable" if you go deep into consumer debt. This is the core of the consumerist ideology.
2. Under globalization (which also is based on and enables the explosion of debt), hold a gun to every worker's head, since almost no one's job isn't offshorable.
Certainly no one in such a conformist, self-enslaved position should be called an "individualist". And yet:
Taken together, guilt, shame and individualism undercut any impulse to collective action, then as now, Professor Kennedy said. Noting that Americans felt stunned and desperately insecure during the Depression's early years, he wrote: "What struck most observers, and mystified them, was the eerie docility of the American people, their stoic passivity as the Depression grindstone rolled over them."
Can we please stop tarnishing the term and concept "individualism" by applying it to conformist louts? An individualist is someone who strikes out on his own path. That he doesn't readily collectivize is on account of his innate divergence from the norm and from material shackles.
But someone who abjectly conforms with every social and materialistic orthodoxy, who is the least self-reliant, most inherently dependent person imaginable, but who is also a jerk who doesn't work well with others and sneers at collective action because that's what pinkos and tree-huggers do, is the radical opposite of an "individualist".
Historically, this is the socioeconomic base for fascism - those who are in fact downwardly mobile, but who are indoctrinated into the ideology of middle-class upward mobility and desperately cling to this ideal in the face of reality, and who fear and loathe the notion of "proletarianization". (This class status ideal also contributes to the dynamic I described above, anti-individualist but also anti-collective. Really just confused loutism.)
All too true. We see this in the environmental movement as well. (There have been incidents of it among Peak Oilers too.)