Subject: CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS; REVOLUTIONARY CONSCIOUSNESS –WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE AND WHO CARES?
25 May 2016
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The unequivocal military defeat of the United States by the Vietnamese caused world public opinion to turn against American imperialism. A military defeat --unlike moral failure, or cultural ineffectiveness, or financial surrender—has a lasting effect on public opinion. The immorality of African American slavery, the culture of genocide by Europeans against Amerindian nations, or the financial war being waged by German bankers today against the Greek nation and by American-led financial institutions against the world --these defeats cannot be compared with the French defeat in 1962 in the Algerian armed struggle for independence, or the US military defeat in 1974 at the hands of the Vietnamese. The historic films, The Battle of Algiers (1966), by Gillo Pontecorvo, and Hearts and Minds (1974), by Peter Davis, both offer excellent explanations for imperial military defeat in the last century and the lasting effects these defeats had on world public opinion.
In the early chapters of Mark Ames’ book, Going Posta: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond (2005), a problematic is developed that slave revolts are relatively infrequent and inconsequential in the history of slavery. The author discusses the Denmark Vesey rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina, 1821-1822, and the more credible Nat Turner slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, during August 1831, in which rebel slaves killed anywhere from 55 to 65 people, “the highest number of fatalities caused by any slave uprising in the American South.”
Ames then proceeds to discuss “the slave mentality” in contemporary American society since “the Reagan Revolution” and the different forms of violence this ideological shift has created in the workplace, from applied managerial proactive techniques of top-down degradation and humiliation of workers and students to the ever-increasing number of reactive rage-murders in school yards and workplaces across corporate America. As the cultural norm changes under the influence of neo-liberal ideology, violence as well as the slave mentality has proliferated; the big “winners” in this exaggerated rapport de force in society are aware of this sea change that has taken place, and they take the necessary precautions to do what they must to naturalize the increase in violence and to stabilize the class-divided society in decline, from which they hope to derive greater and greater profits.
It is interesting that nearly all of the books on this [kind of] crime are manuals and handbooks designed for management, published by specialized professional publishers, rather than books for a wider audience published by trade publishers. It is as if the broader implications –of linking rage massacres to changes in the corporate culture—are being held back from a wider audience. (p.123)
The very idea of collectivizing to protect their interests is anathema to white-collar, middle-class American professionals. They have always seen themselves as the class in adversarial relation to unions. . . .
The ghost of Western Union founder Jay Gould, who once boasted, ‘I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other,’ is back, only the middle-class is now in the same galley ship that the working class once was. ‘I can hire one bourgeois to alienate the other’ –this was something Marx had never foreseen.
In this highly atomized corporate culture, it is no wonder that workplace rage rebellions should take place in the form of one-man suicide missions. If the idea of banding together to fight for something as one’s self interest –unionizing for a dental plan or to keep wages and pensions from being slashed—is frowned upon , then who would consider raising arms with fellow employees to wage an insurrection against the company that oppresses them? No employee would be able to trust another to keep the plan secret; moreover, no employee is ever aware that anyone else is as miserable and desperate as he is. The culture demands that people smile and love their work –and most do, or at least most believe they do.
Neither the FBI nor the Secret Service has been able to create a profile for a rampage murderer –not in the office world, nor in the schoolyard world.
The inability to profile these rage murderers is important because it strongly suggests that external factors, that is environmental factors, create the rampage murderer, rather than the internal psychological disorders of the rampage attacker. Serial killers, for example, can be profiled because they share distinct psychological characteristics. But nearly anyone is a potential rage murderer. They spring out from anywhere in that vast unrecognized middle. Some are single, some married. Some are anti-social loner types, some friendly and well-liked. . . .
Anyone could snap anywhere; anyone’s a suspect. And that means that employees go out of their way to make sure they’re not perceived as being potentially dangerous, no matter how cruelly they are treated. Employees are so terrified of uttering the wrong quip, one that could be misconstructed, as even the slightest hint of disgruntlement could be grounds for a visit from police, a forced psychological examination, and a destroyed career. No, the only hope is to smile all the time and pray that no one notices how miserable you are –pray, in fact, that you yourself never know how miserable you are. And if you snap, then don’t let it show until the morning you appear with your duffel bag (arsenal). (Mark Ames, Going Postal, pp. 119-120)
Contrary to the general perception of office massacres as random shootings by crazed loners who snap, nearly every rampage murderer targets both specific oppressors –usually supervisors—as well as the company in general. Targeting a company through murder and destruction might strike us as totally irrational, not to mention tactically unsound. In the first place; the shareholders are generally people or organizations far removed from the company premises. Second, q company isn’t really a tangible thing. It is a structure, a legal setup, a concept, a link in a distribution chain. This is what makes a company seem so invulnerable and daunting to a disgruntled employee –the enemy is some kind of bewitching abstract. It’s center of gravity is dispersed and diffused, so perfectly hidden that it makes going after the Predator monster seem like shooting fish in a barrel. The company is also a set of implanted impressions and emotions: the company is the routine, the system, the partitions and industrial carpeting, the workstations and company parking lot, the memo board and the gossip; the buzzing overhead fluorescent lights, the stench of cheap coffee grinds and morning breath, the other people’s moods; the petty intrigues, morale, the Friday Casual Day, and the box of Krispy Kreme donuts in the break room. Yet the abstract company is also made up of concrete assets, and those assets include not only its cash, buildings, and equipment, but also its personnel. And, as the rampage murderers demonstrated, the abstract company is concretely represented by its image or its sanctity or its karma. Whatever you call that intangible, this ‘image’ or ‘sanctity’ is the company’s soft underbelly. The rampage murderer who attacks his workplace seeks to kill the abstract company by killing its literal assets and splattering the image in blood, thereby killing both employees and company. Indeed, it is hard for a company to recover from a rampage murder. Some, like Standard Gravure, close forever.(pp. 120-121)
The corporate attempts to manage this social debacle and to maintain a predictable order in the midst of this free-for-all chaos can be seen in popular cartoons and in lists of “economic films” that have been made to address the frequent social crises of this century. The acid test of this cultural expression is what affect it will have on consciousness-raising activities within the working class.
Reviews of Economics Films
South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)
The 7 items below offer CEIMSA readers a window to the world of work and class struggle.
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Diedrich Bader, Stephen Root, Gary Cole
Synopsis: Peter is a drone for a software company well on his way to a nervous breakdown when a hypnosis mishap opens his eyes. He becomes so apathetic toward his job that he can't even muster up the energy to quit. His new no-work ethic is mistaken by a pair of corporate headhunters as "middle-management potential," and he is promoted as his pals Michael and Samir are laid off. Frustrated in his attempts to be down-sized, Peter hatches a plot to embezzle the company.
The Occupation of the American Mind - RAI with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters
On Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, legendary musician Roger Waters and Sut Jhally discuss their new film about the Israeli public relations campaign to influence U.S. public opinion
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Economist Michael Hudson says IMF's concern about Greek debt is bogus, this is full scale financial war, forcing Greece give up ports, pensions, properties and much more . . . .
Exclusive: Source Reveals How Pentagon Ruined Whistleblower’s Life
and Set Stage for Snowden’s Leaks
From: "Mark Crispin Miller" <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, 23 May, 2016
Subject: [MCM] Clinton Foundation is the "largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever attempted," claims financial expert Charles Ortel
by Pam Martens and Russ Martens
39,000 Verizon Workers Enter Sixth Week on Strike in
the Biggest U.S. Labor Action in Years
Why Austrians Nearly Elected
a Far Right Candidate as President
The political and democratic crisis in Austria coupled with the economic conditions nearly handed the presidency to the far right, says economist Walter Baier