But let’s start at the beginning. American life is now one long exercise in cruelty — first learning to survive it, then learning to appreciate and admire it (as perverse as that sounds), then learning, in the end, to perform and enact it — bang!! — thus, the cycle keeps going. Do I exaggerate? You go ahead and be the judge.
You’re born, you go to school. “Active shooter drills” and “lunch debt.” From an early age, you learn that life is divided, therefore, into predator and prey. You go to middle school, high school — it’s a uniquely awful, dispiriting experience, about being mean and nasty, bullying and submission, popularity and vanity and selfishness — and while you might think, “it’s like that everywhere!” my friends, it isn’t. Other nations don’t base their entire adolescent cultures on the trauma of…just waking up and going to school. But Americans do, because that’s life. Hence, among disastrous effects, skyrocketing suicide rates among teens.
Those that do survive a culture of extreme cruelty from the day they’re born? Off you go go to college — and you’re hazed mercilessly to join a fraternity. What are you being trained for, really? Education, creativity, insight — or dominance, submission, and tribalism? Never mind. You graduate and go to work. And the workplace is one where bullying itself is called management, and every kind of abuse is normalized. No one else in the civilized world, really, puts up with bosses shouting at them and berating them and demeaning them, like feudal overlords. It just isn’t tolerated — it’s usually quite literally against the law. But America created a culture where overwork is work, where 80 hour weeks for shrinking pay are just fine, and you have to perform with a rictus smile of submission on your face. You’re not really “working” — more than that, you’re performing a kind of flamboyant display of emotional and intellectual servitude, which proves what you really are, a social nobody. Better not make that capitalist mad — or is he your feudal lord? Yet for Americans, all these are perfectly normal and acceptable. Read More