It’s Economic

The riots, the smashing of monuments, the cancel culture – these are not political phenomena. These are economic phenomena.

I rarely say this because I see politics in everything. But here I see not a trace of any political goal or motivation. People are feeling rage because they can’t access the upper-middle-class lifestyle they think they deserve. They are slipping into the lumpen class. It’s degrading, so they fake exceptional sensibility that is supposed to signal to the world how different they are.

Think how many of the young and not-so-young people who are running around breaking things won’t be able or haven’t been able to form families, buy a house, start a good pension fund. That’s what they are so upset about. Precarity, loneliness, uselessness. It’s easier to pretend that life isn’t giving you what you want because you are too busy correcting social injustices and not because you are one of the “wasted lives,” the detritus of the current moment.

14 thoughts on “It’s Economic”

  1. You’re not allowed to say that, of course. Because even when I was that age we weren’t supposed to want to settle down, get married, have kids, buy a house, whatever… what we were supposed to want was a college degree, a foot on the career ladder, a carefree life with multiple casual sexual partners, and maybe have kids after 35 when our careers were plateauing.

    Turns out very few people actually want that, but we keep trying to sell it to the kids. That’s why everyone hates boomers, you know. They were the ones who sold us on that crap. And they still belonged to the generation that mostly married and had kids young. And managed to buy houses. Bloody hypocrites.

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    1. Unfortunately, I see a lot of people who don’t have the self-realization that they’ve been sold this crap. They are angry and upset but don’t know why.

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      1. I think a lot of people–particularly women– would be so much happier if they could just admit that their job sucks, they hate it, and what they really wanted was a decent husband and a house full of kids. I mean, yeah, I can totally see that that was a horrifying trap for some women, in the past. But it was never true for ALL women. Somehow, we can only manage one template at a time, with nasty results. Don’t have much insight into the male side of that equation, but suspect they’ve been sold a load of cheap goods, too.

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        1. methylethyl, as a single woman in my 30ies, I think almost nothing will make a man run away faster than hearing “job sucks, hate it, want a decent husband ready to support a house full of kids in addition to two adults.” 🙂 I bet even two-three children from a former marriage would be less frightening. 🙂

          Also, I doubt people dreaming of marriage were forced into a prolonged middle-aged singlehood – “a carefree life with multiple casual sexual partners.” Besides, having a college degree and “a foot on the career ladder” is often necessary to afford buying a flat, let alone a house. At least, it’s so in Israel.

          I thought college and a few first years of working ended in USA at the age of 25 at the most since you don’t have an obligatory 2-3 years of army service like in Israel.

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            1. It’s the consumerist vision of life and of other human beings that is creating the loneliness and the angry, thwarted lives we see screaming and crushing statues. You are never going to be able to form a profound relationship with a human being unless shedding that human being once they become inconvenient is removed as an option. You are never going to be not lonely if you see everything and everybody in terms of maximizing your opportunities. You are never going to be not disappointed and frustrated if you don’t understand that pain and unpleasantness are normal parts of being human.

              The constant choosing, the constant need to keep choosing is what drives people nuts. The human psyche disintegrates when nothing is a certainty, everything is a choice, and everything that happens is your responsibility for making the wrong choice.

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              1. \ You are never going to be able to form a profound relationship with a human being unless shedding that human being once they become inconvenient is removed as an option.

                I do not understand. Are you for no possibility of divorce?

                One of my personal versions of hell on earth is being trapped in an unhappy marriage.

                Besides, once one has children, utterly shedding the second parent stops being an option.

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              2. Legally, of course, nobody should be forced to stay married. However, I guarantee a much much higher chances of happy married life if you decide that this is forever from the first day of marriage. The sheer relief is overwhelming. Things that would otherwise bother you become cute. The peace, the restfulness… Totally worth it.

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        2. Perhaps. People in general would be much happier if they let go of fantasies of perfection. In the past there were enormous impediments for women in the workplace. We got rid of those but people need to understand that merely being able to work doesn’t make one happy. Most jobs suck. Or your job may suck for you personally. Or it may suck for a while until you move on to a better one. I find a some of my women friends unable to deal with this and blame patriarchy, their husbands or family.

          I’ve seen men suffer when they find a partner who expects gender equality for herself yet still expects the husband to be the ‘provider’. Best of both worlds! That doesn’t work. I’ve seen happy couples who believe in equality and happy couples who believe in gender roles. But you can’t have both.

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  2. My father, who would be 103 if he were still with us, escaped an Oklahoma farm during the Great Depression and learned to weld. He spent the early years of his marriage taking night classes until he could do pretty much anything having to do with fabricating steel. At age 45, he started his own little sheet metal fabrication company – “the shop” we always called it.

    I was 5, the 7th of 9 children, when he started the shop. For years, we hardly saw him except on Sundays and for the 1 week of vacation a year my mom made him take. By then-current standards, we were not remotely rich

    By the time I was 12 – too late for my older siblings – dad was making serious money. He bought his 1st new car, we moved to a bigger house. From 12 to 19, I lived a pretty nice life, nice house, a little pocket money (sweeping floors at the shop). So I have the experience growing up where asking mom for a dollar was simply not in the realm of possibility, and then having dad pay for my (admittedly much cheaper back then) college education. My two little brothers had it pretty easy; my older siblings had it pretty rough. That was called ‘life’ back then.

    The part that’s missing today: it only took him 50+ years to get there, and he, as he liked to say, wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty. I barely qualify as a boomer = a title and class I loathe – but got a bit more than a little Depression Kid flavor growing up. So, I thought – and still think – I had it easy, getting an MBA on evenings and weekends, then putting in 25 years of corporate work. Didn’t do as well as dad, but I did get the family and suburban house.

    My sympathy for those who can’t seem to crack the economic nut is tempered. I get that they were sold a bill of goods. I also get that those who taunt them with ‘learn to code’ have a point. It would even better if they said ‘learn to weld’ because that entails enough humility to get your hands dirty.

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  3. IMO, it’s both economic plus the youth now being spoiled brats who think they are entitled to things. They can’t handle that life is tough.

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  4. Economic?? I hate to be cynical, but here goes: Colleges shut down. Thousands of young people forced home from college or work, forced to stay in and quarantine with parents. For weeks! Energized, bored crazy, all dressed down and no place to go.

    SOMEONE TEXTS: “Protest downtown tonight! Hundreds, maybe thousands, In the streets!Chanting, marching! All night! You going?”

    REPLY TEXT: “I’m in! LET’S GO!!”

    TEXT: “Tell your friends. And bring a bottle of water. It’s going to be hot!”

    And then it gets exciting! Police, broken glass, fires, tear gas, statues . . .

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    1. That’s a big factor, absolutely. But the people inciting the crowds, smashing the statues, and attacking in the streets seem kind of too old for college. College kids go out, wave their signs, feel important but I don’t have a feeling they are doing the destruction.

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      1. I agree. The college kids simply help provide the critical mass of protesters (or simply onlookers), they help generate the drama and emotion. They give the provocateurs the necessary crowd to blend in with and incite. Once the action gets going, some of the under-25 idled college students and workers get caught up in the excitement. Many of them may actually take some part in the destruction. But I think things like pulling down large statues require planning and maybe even some engineering know-how. That kind of destruction is organized and carried out by a relative handful motivated opponents to the social order. A few students may join in or cheer them on.

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