Monday, January 31, 2005

Divide and conquer

I've been giving some thought to this inability of people to get along, or at least coexist with one another. I find that generally, most human beings are not particularly friendly, or open to interaction outside of their tightly-controlled class or group--most tend to run in packs or cliques and when I show up at some gathering--like an after-hours business event, or even a gallery opening--I all-too-often end up standing in the corner, with my glass of wine or other beverage, feeling stupid and out of place. Rather than recognize that we're all in this mess together and that occasionally, meeting a new person outside of our small circle might be interesting, or at least expand our comfort level in social settings, most prefer the boring sameness of their own tribe.

Due to snowstorms, part-time jobs and the demands of writing a couple of freelance articles, I've been unable to make it to my local library. As a result, I've been desperately scouring the house for reading material of any kind. Yesterday, I grabbed Michael Moore's Stupid White Men off the shelf. I think my significant other picked this up at a used book store, but I hadn't read it. Having seen Fahrenheit 911 last June (Moore loosely based the premise for the movie on SWM), I was familiar with much of Moore's critique of the Bush administration and corporate America's gang rape of the working class, but reading through the book has me shaking my head anew and just muttering to myself--how did American's get sold this right-wing, fascist, bill of goods being shoved down our throats (or up some other bodily orifice!) by America's latest installment of the ruling class?

Speaking of class, asfo_del, over at Living on Less has some mighty good comments on class and the whole "divide and conquer" strategy that most of us are too stupid, or too self-absorbed to pay any attention to. We continually pick someone below us to step on, groping our way up the ladder of social darwinism.

In her post about perusing other blogs, she mentions becoming angered ("grouchy" she writes) at the way that comments are made, some in a rather vicious and hateful manner, towards anyone daring to break ranks, demurring from the status quo. She writes:

"Here's my theory: if you are a member of an historically oppressed group, the members of another, slightly more privileged, group are not your oppressors. The ruling class is your oppressor. Only those who have real power can control how society conducts its dirty business of dividing and conquering. Some people have been granted certain advantages by the ruling class because it's expedient: it creates divisiveness, jealousy, and resentment, which are always good to keep the people bickering among themselves, and it makes those who have been persuaded they must hold onto those perks for dear life into foot soldiers in the oppression of those less privileged. The minute it's no longer in the interests of the powerful for those privileges to exist, they're gone. Witness the current dwindling away of the middle class. With so much of the political process increasingly controlled by corporate money and fear-mongering, it's becoming no longer necessary for the ruling class to maintain a relatively content base of loyal voters.

So are there individual men and groups of men who oppress individual women and groups of women? Of course, but they're only the messengers, the patsies who have been told they will lose everything unless they dig their claws into something. Yes, sure it's worthwhile to try to slap some sense into the poor die-hard fools, but let's not lose sight of the real engine behind inequality."

Strong writing and analysis, indeed!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice words. :)

Jim said...

When I read your analysis of class, it really resonated with me. It is rare to find any mention of class in any sphere, even on the left. I'm not sure why this is, because its the best explanation for the disparity that has always existed.

We have this national delusion that we are a classless society. We focus on racism, sexism, and all manner of ills to try to address inequity, when the basis for all inequality is our class division and the unequal distribution of power between the workers and the ruling class.

The only challenge to this model occurred during the 1960's, and look how the govt shut that down with jack-booted efficiency.

Personally, I think our public education system bears the primary burden of blame for Americans lack of class consciousness. School provides the socialization into the mythology of equality that Americans cling to.

ChefDunn said...

"I've been giving some thought to this inability of people to get along, or at least coexist with one another."

Just want you to know this is really hard to do when half the time you feel like smacking the other person in the face out of frusturation... lol. ;)