Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bruce Wilder

09.11.12 at 11:56 pm

ajay @ 77: “Just because you are low-income and low-status doesn’t actually make you naturally submissive.”

Certainly, that’s not everyone’s response. But, it does tend to make one feel powerless, abused, lied to, cynical and resentful. And, the result may be bloody-minded, passive-aggressive resistance, at best, and a high degree of conventionalism coupled with aggressiveness to deviants and out-groups, rather than legitimate authorities, who may, at least, ostensibly, be both trusted too much, and regarded cynically.

And, goes a long way to explaining the logically incoherent, stereotyped beliefs, that Cranky Observer @ 30 so artfully described. (“My peeps!”, I thought to myself, back in Michigan!)

If you are in a position, where your role, for better or worse, is to do what you are told, and you are dependent on the organization, what, psychologically, you most want, is to be taken care of, and for membership—not just leadership—in the organization to have its privileges, and, above all, protections. A well-functioning army feeds the troops, as job one, and the bottom level of officer-management is dedicated to taking care of the troops. And, the bottom few levels in the Army know perfectly well that they may be killed or maimed for their trouble, and have to defend themselves psychologically from the implications, in ways that may shape what seem to the rest of us, as odd and contradictory political attitudes.

Being a small, lowly and disposable cog in a corporate machine is even more thankless and disspiriting than being in the Army. (Half of the U.S. workforce is employed in organizations with more than 100 employees.) There are no limits on what the top executives may steal, and no patriotic purpose. So, yes, you resent anyone, on your own level, who doesn’t keep step, or shows disloyalty, and you are inured to a certain dull roar of abuse and exploitation by higher ranks, a full acknowledgement of which would be terrifically demoralizing, stripping everything you do, of meaning. But, if an accident, say, changes the power relationship—giving you, say, the chance to sue for wrongful termination or workers’ comp—and you have a rare chance to take revenge, well, then . . .

So one of the frontiers of practical politics and the struggle over the distribution of power and income has always been the tort system and the welfare system.

I’m always surprised at how little empathy many liberal Democrats in the U.S. have for the people Barbara Ehrenreich said were being nickled and dimed. The people, who hoped Obama would help them, and whom he failed so completely and thoroughly. Is it really so hard to see Obamacare as a subsidy for rapacious, for-profit insurers and big pharma? Is it so hard to see the EITC as a subsidy for demeaning, low-wage work, which benefits big corporations? Is it so hard to see why people would resent lax and ineffective immigration and border controls?

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