A Labor Day Post: The Ingrained and Unmindful Ignorance Of Class Exceptionalism And State Privilege
There is a myth out there that within this economic system we all have some great ability to create this life of wonderment including a wonderful career that we love. The reality is someone always has to plant and pick the food we eat. Someone needs to mine the raw materials we use. Someone needs to take the dirty sheets from privilege’s hotel room. Someone needs to slave away in a factory with a few short breaks a day while spending the other eight to twelve hours sitting or standing in the same spot doing the same repetitive task over and over and over again. Someone has to clean the toilets. Those are the “lucky” people. They provide class and state privilege with incredible entitlement. They produce the phones, the TVs, the clothes, the electronics, the cars, the gadgets, the consumer goods, the eyewear, the furniture, the homes and on and on and on that privilege and class consumes. There are billions of other people who aren’t so “lucky”. They are the marginalized who live in the world’s ghettos and shanty towns. Those who have no voice because it is drowned out by the violence of the state and its concepts of hierarchy, class and privilege. The reality is most humans, including the people who serve class and hierarchy, consume very little. Very, very little. They exist to serve people of privilege.
Privilege. There is a word that has meaning. A professional career be it in the corporate world, the political world or whatnot, grants us privilege. But that career is built off of the back of exploitation and violence. There are a lot of people who recognize the dangers of exceptionalism as a belief system. The Japanese Empire, Nazi Germany, the British Empire, the Roman Empire, the American Empire; they all have belief systems surrounding exceptionalism. This belief system is necessary for class and hierarchy to rationalize (ego) economic & social violence and even outright warfare on others who aren’t exceptional or who are the untermensch, the subhuman or the exploitable. What most people don’t recognize is that exceptionalism is also part of political Islam, fundamentalist Christianity and corporate capitalism. Essentially, any hierarchical construct operates under the tyrannical yoke of exceptionalism to perpetuate its violence. The state is just the ultimate example because it is the greatest, most recognizable perpetrator of violence in the world.
Going to college in this system does something to our psyche. It generally makes us willfully ignorant. We believe we have made it. That we no longer have to toil at the meaningless, mundane and rote. That’s for those lesser people over there. But this is a myth. If everyone went to college, no one would actually produce anything. So, who goes to college? The smartest? Those who are exceptional? Hahaha. A lot of circular reasoning and moral rationalizing in that dynamic. The division of labor that capitalism relies upon is a creation of slavery. Which gives us a very clear picture of why corporations have actually used outright slave labor time and again throughout history. Not just poverty wages but outright slavery. The prison system in the U.S. today still is used in that regard. But so are the poor Chinese, Vietnamese and the like who produce our wealth.
Interestingly, I had two conversations in the last week or so that floored me. And both people were completely serious. Both brought up the turmoil we are seeing in financial markets, expecting me to comment because of my background and knowledge. I don’t really talk in any detail to most people about anything I write on here. I simply commented to both that essentially there are structural economic issues that are coming home to roost. One said that the United States needs a good war to rev the economy. And another remarked, “What’s the problem? The smart people are successful and the stupid people aren’t. It’s just Darwinism.”. Now, neither of these people are really outside of the mainstream. Many people may not utter these direct words but they support similar violent belief systems. They are also belief systems of exceptionalism created by corporate capitalism and corporate capitalist society. The universe has a funny way of dealing with belief systems. It’s called karma.
This myth of a career and class-based exceptionalism is something that I have been writing could very well be nearing its end and may collapse if this class-based hierarchical construct we call corporate capitalist vanishes. Loving what you do and creating a corporate career plays off of the dynamic of exceptionalism, privilege and human slavery that capitalism's anti-democratic division of labor has created. This appeals to New Age yuppies who actually produce nothing and yet somehow believe in these mythical dreams created off the backs of people they exploit, or put another way, people who provide them with exceptional privilege that is fundamental to creating these wonderful careers. New BMWs, two or three homes, sending kids to private schools, hiring nannies, going on glamorous vacations, over-consuming more than they produce; these are all illusions. In fact, there are people out there who write about peak prosperity and the like for America. I’ve ridiculed that statement in the past because it’s laughable to believe the vast majority of people in this nation or around the world are experiencing peak prosperity. Peak state violence that manifests itself as peak prosperity for the very few? Possibly.
If this system unwinds or collapses or is in terminal failure, life for the vast majority of Americans and people around the world will ultimately improve. Because the vast majority of people consume very little and have very small carbon footprints. But more importantly, being enslaved to this system, they lead a life of little higher purpose or meaning and can oftentimes do barely more than exist. In fact, most people in this world who produce things are too poor to consume anything they produce. How much production in this world serves class privilege versus democracy or humanity? Almost all of it. It’s the state actors and the very top of the professional class of bureaucrats who manage this control system who are consuming everything. What is the carbon footprint of Steven Spielberg’s yacht or his endless real estate holdings or his annual consumption of goods, services, energy, etc? Ditto for someone like Donald Trump? While I’m too lazy to investigate that, I think it would be safe to say that Spielberg or Trump has a carbon footprint or consumption profile that would equate to upwards of tens of millions of people in the poorest places on earth. Class is the virus that infects our planet. Class and hierarchy are created through state violence rather than any natural laws or natural rights.
The American Indians had it right. You kill what you eat. Or, more broadly, you produce what you consume. Or, you trade what you produce for what others produce. The state and its creation of the professional class produces or plays a role in producing very little. The political class produces absolutely nothing. Most of the professional and state class generally push paper. They are the enforcers in a system of exploitation for their corporate masters.
The people on the other side of these pipe dreams of finding enrichment in mythical careers are the world's working class, mostly characterized as working poor, who sweat away in all of these Godless and menial positions to provide for things that privilege and exceptionalism consume without any question of who is providing them their wealth and privilege or why they don’t have to toil away at meaningless, rote, mundane work. If the professional class and state actors had to toil away for what they consume, the system of forced corporate work or wage slavery would disappear. Because creating that life of privilege and doing what you love all of a sudden is replaced with the reality of having to toil away at meaningless, rote and mundane work. Class generally produces absolutely nothing that society consumes, including what they personally over-consume in their rape of the planet and humanity, and creates literally zero tangible wealth, and has these meaningless egomaniacal desires for happy talk careers that grant them even more privilege while the undercurrent of working poor that slaves away on their behalf leads a gritty, dirty, raw life that helps one appreciate what it’s actually like to be a human being. The people who are exploited for surplus labor and intellectual value don't have the luxury of these types of bullshit New Age fantasies of exceptionalism, careers and a life of leisure and endless ego-driven consumption and amusement. They are worried about where their next meal is going to come from and whether their children are going to be able to have some ability to survive in this world without living in capitalism's gutter that the professional class and the state have placed them in.
This is a Godless message of vanity and if people of class actually had to deal with the mundane and meaningless existence of providing for that which they over-consume, as the world's working class have to, they wouldn’t have so much free time to yammer on about fantastical delusions of careers, doing what you love and whatnot that is actually afforded to them through the slavery of others. They’d be picking their own cotton rather than having their capitalist slaves do it for them.
One thing to remember is that if this system is in terminal failure, the power will flip from exceptionalism and privilege (class, hierarchy and credentials like a college degree) to competence. The exploited working class are the only people who actually know how to make things we need to survive. Then we will see if they are actually as concerned about those of privilege and exceptionalism that exploited them now that the shoe would be on the other foot. That would be very interesting. But, given that most people not of privilege understand what it’s like to be human beings, I would actually expect most would still give them their shirts off their back just as they do today. Because they don’t live under the delusions of belief systems of exceptionalism. They live within themselves and, thus appreciate that to be truly human is to forgive, share and to love. Because that is the only way they can survive. The reality is it isn’t through Social Darwinism that humanity survived. It was through being human which, when void of the ego’s tyrannical belief systems of exceptionalism, is innately altruistic.
What this world needs on this Labor Day is public capital, democratic economics and democratic economic determinism. Then we can start to rebuild a just and moral world. A world where people can return to being human beings. Then we can stop relying on anti-democratic slavery principles like the division of labor, and we can stop the endless wars that provide the looting necessary for those of privilege. And on and on and on…..