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The Bourgeios

Who are they? What are they? Strictly speaking, they are the "middle class", that is the landed gentry. In America, there is actually a new "lower middle class" -- the working class (that for whatever reasons) have taken up the same characteristics of the bourgeios. These notes are based on personal observation and should not be taken as a definitive field guide to the species. There are (theoretically) three classes of workers. At the top of the heap is the aristocracy, they control the "means of production" as Marx uses the term. They own things. Not just houses and cars. Important things. They own corporations, hugh and often v. valuable tracts of land, as well as factories, mass farms, banks, etc. Next down on the list is the middle class (the bourgeios). They imagine themselves to be the supporting class for society. They often aspire to be aristocratic, but lack both the drive or the intellegence to do so. Despite the fact that the bourgeios derive almost all of the best things that society has to offer, they somehow feel that they are being cheated. And of course, at the lowest end of the social spectrum are the poor. This is the largest element of society, but is often overlooked. Many people who consider themselves to be middle class are in fact actually at the top of the "poor" class; they are the working poor. Many of the poor depend on friends, relatives, or charities for their day-to-day existence, and most cases own little or nothing. Now one should not confuse a person's social status with her or his intellegence, abilities, or out-look on life. There is quite a cross section of values in each strata. Also, the concept of "mobility" (upward or downward) must also be considered; ie, where are their "job prospects" (aka "career") taking them? Let us now examine several factors in the make up of human beings. Intellegence. This term is much tossed about, but little is known about it. Many people equate intellegence with the ability to have a good living. In fact, for the most part a "good living" is made at the expense of someone else and has little to do with intellegence at all. For example, if two people are applying for a job, it more likely that the person who has an "in" (an inside advantage) will get the job. For example, if the applicant plays golf and the hiring manager plays golf, this is a decidedly strong advantage. This is the common concept of "mimicking behaviour". In rare cases is intellegence the deciding factor in hiring practices. In fact, since most people stop cultivating their mind when they leave school (and consequently get dumber by the year), they are often intimidated by intellegent people. Primarily this is caused by the fear of being replaced by a smarter person. Craftiness. This is often mistaken for intellegence, but in fact is is a rather preditory form of cold-blooded calculation. The crafter a person is, the more they play the WIFIM game; ie, What's In It For Me". Since the business world revolves around the competitve model, craftiness may be used to substitute an "image" for substance. For example, if there are two groups working on projects, the manager of one can automatically (by crafiness) gain the upper hand by simply pointing out the shortcomings of the other group. Even if one group is doing nothing constructive, by making the other group look bad (pointing out their failures, questioning them suspiciously like they are not being "team players", etc), the group that is doing nothing automatically looks good -- simply by comparison. Work Ethic. So ingrained in socciety of the value of the work ethic, that anyone who is un-employed is automatically looked down upon (even if this state of un-employment is only temporary). Indeed, the person themselves tends to have a lowered self-esteem, becomes dejected, and this leads to various forms of self-destructive behaviour. Possibly even suicide. Thus, is the *force* of equating ones own worth with their job, their social postition, and by how much raw hamburger meat they can stuff up their nose. Progress. For the most part progress is dependent upon a very few individuals who step out of the norm and take chances and follow some sort of dream. These creative and innovative people are very rare. Actually, it is because they choose to question or even reject the status quo, that any sort of progress occurs at all. This concept of "rebelling" is crucial to our understanding of the mediocrity and power of the bourgeios. Enter the Status Quo At any given time in society, there is an existing "status quo"; ie, the way things are. And since the people growing up in the current conditions have (in most likelyness) known no other way, they resent any attempts to change anything. This is the basis of the *reactionary mind*; ie, raacting against change. Yet, as we mentioned earlier, there are a few people who question the status quo, or want to find a better way to do things, or are simply driven to push themselves ahead, and thus "conquer" an empire -- even if it might be a higher place in the marketplace. A few examples are now needed. When we look at the inventor Thomas Alva Edison, we think of a far-reaching visionary, who crated the light bulb, and a whole host of modern inventions; eg, the movie projector, the phonograph, etc. But, in fact he was far from an original thinker; indeed his famous statement "Invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" shows how he approached invention. Consider the light bulb, he tried one type of filament after another, even at one point pulling out a whisker from a bearded lab worker. This hit or miss approach *did* eventually lead to the light bulb -- but at what cost? His single mindedness might still be lauded for at least trying, but in reality he was after success (both financial and intellectual). This can best be seen in his contribution to the story of the movie projector. He immediately patented every small change that he made, and then as other inventors started (often independently) making new systems, he took them to court and tried to shut down their efforts. He caused the progress of many inventions like that to actually be retarded rather than advanced. Finally, his thinking was so limited in the theoretical arrena that when it came time to set up power distribution systems, he was still insisting on using direct current (DC -- as that produced in batteries), despite over-whelming evidence that alternationg current (AC -- as produced by generators and alternators) was more efficient. The German scientist and inventor Helmholtz had shown how there would be less loss in the long-distance transmission of power with AC than with DC. But, Edison would brook (nor listen to) any argument. In fact, when the first electric chair was to be constructed, Edison saw to it that it used AC, pointing out how dangerous AC was! (That the fact that that much DC current would be just as deadly was of course side-stepped by Edison). Do not think that I'm picking on poor Thomas Alva out of fun. Far from it, he is the perfect example of the bourgeios person. Rags to Riches. Inherent in the mythology that produces the bourgeios mind are these kinds of "rags to riches" or "brought themselves up by their own bootstraps" or "self taught genius". These always have wide appeal (to all classes) since it supposed to convey the idea that you (i) too could do this, it's just a matter of hard work -- and a few lucky breaks. Part of this has to do with a reaction against being too educated. As Frank Zappa said in a radio inverview, "It hasn't been a good thing to be smart in America in a long time". (Needless to say, following the comercial break, *that* inverview was cut short!) Primary in the mythology of the bourgeios mind is the concept of material worth. It is *the* defining factor in considering a person's worth in society. If a person has X dollars, and then the next years has X+Y then they are judged more successfull for larger values of "Y". The fact that they may have had to use questionable business practices to do this, or that they achieved this by firing 10% of the staff just before Christmas, or by even by illegal practices is of little concern. If they can get away with it, so much the better. So much the better of a model of *success* that the person is for all members of society. Now let us look closer at these mythologies and such and begin to "tack down" exactly the characteristics of the bourgeios. Education. As pointed out previously, there is a certain suspicion of formal education. The so-called "school of hardknocks" whereby people gain information by livng life, or on-the-job training, or just keeping "at it", is elevated to the most glowing terms. This goes back to the "self made man" concept as well. And of course, it goes without saying that any non-practical studies are just seen as being "in the way" of a *real* education. Thus, the usual screwball views of various practices. If one chooses to study science, then you are cast into the shadow of the "mad scienist" or the "absent minded professor" -- people who go about with their heads in the clouds, but don't know how to match their socks. If you take up studying the arts (music, art, dance, etc) then these are seen as posible hobbies, but certainly not the basis for "earning a living" -- again the emphasis in the little squirrel-in-the-cage minds of the bourgeios: Everything is judged in terms of material possesions, wealth, owned things, and the cost of your car, private plane, etc. Even the concept of the "educator" comes under the disdainful eye of the bourgeios. The most notable example is the ever-present saying "Those that can't do; teach". Thus, anyone deciding to teach must be doing so, because they have no other means of "earning a living". Oddly enough, in other countries than America, teachers are held in high regard. For exmaple, on the first day of classes in Russia, the children and their presents come to class and present the teachers with presents, in many cases the parents will quote their favorite poets and writers; hence, a celebration of the teacher as giver of wwisdom, rather than a failure in the dog-eat-dog job market. Knowlege. A wise scholar once said, "There is no royal road to wisdom" -- warning a king that if he wanted to master a subject of study, then he would have to work at it like everyone else. Oddly enough, most of the bourgeios consider themselves to be *well* educated. Indeed, they hold a certain body of knowledge about current events, pop culture, and the like in their heads -- and that's pretty much all that's there. They rarely (if ever) have even a basic understanding of history (and the underlying causes of various events in history), little or no appreciation of art (unless it is completely figurative and literal), and of music -- more likely than not they like "pop" classical favorites, popular songs of the day, and the top 10. (We shall examine the lack of aesthetic of the bourgeous later). What little knowledge that the bourgeios (indeed much of society) has comes from the "optico monstrosso" -- the TV. Whatever is put on there, they consume as if gospel itself. They never considre the motives of the people to carefully package the news for their consuption. Even when news is supposedly "fair and balanced", you can be sure that it will have at least a non-confrontational slant. Again, the bourgeios is so *glued* to the idea that they live in the best of all possible socieities, in the best of all countries, and enjoy the most of all possible freedoms, is entired fixed within their tiny little brains that rarely entertain a new idea; well, other than to buy the latest model car, or to upgrade their home entertainment systems, or subscribe to yet one more business magazine that will *surely* give them the edge in the stock market. Personal Worth. Again, in keeping with the total focus on the material world, the bourgeios are easily manipulated. All any politician has to do is to tell them that his opponent is for increasing taxes, reducing their retirement benefits, etc. And they will be up in arms. It is key to understanding them, to understand this: Because what they *own* is what they consider valuable, they will defend it. They pay outrageous insurance rates, indeed paying often more for things to protect their possesions than they do in spending wisely. For example, it is common for them to find the cheapest entertainment thing that they can. There are two forces at work here: The need to feel that they are not being cheated (ie, a knowledgeable and wise consumer) --and-- The need to feed their ego by surrounding themselves with the largest possible quantity of *things*. Now comes the discerning moment: Any normal (non bourgeios) person would *of course* buy a 3-year contract for the item. Think about it: Your're buying a wide screen tv, you're spending a small fortune on it (even if it *is* on credit). Any number of things can go wrong with it. For a very small amount (insurance) you can get a full replacement for the next 3 years. So, as long as you have home insurance (or renters insurance in the case of the working poor), then the TV will be there for good; safe and protected. But. The bourgeios mind "knows" that it is smarter and sees the "extended" warranty as just a way to cheat them otu of some money. So, they will spend $3000 on a wide-screen TV, but forgo the additional $150 that would ensure it against the almost certain "something" that will cause the device to become worthless unless they pay a pretty hefty amount for reparing (typically costs might be $300 every year after first year). The Lack of Aesthetic. Needless to say, since the bourgeios mind is also a reactionary one (ie, opposed to change, mainly because they are comfortable in their little middle-class life as it is), then it goes without saying that they have little (if any) appreciation for avante gard or modern art, music, etc. ================ more rants, written in 2005.05.11 More notes on the bourgeois... As regards money. It would appear tuat this is (again) based upon the hierarchical view of things. For example, the person with the money can dictat how it is to be spent. This coupled with the phrase "money talks" leads us to the concept that the "better off" a person is (ie, how much more money, things, etc) that a person has in their own view (and in the view of the various classes) is seen to determine how much respect, obesiance, etc a person is afforded. To break it on down, "The clothes make the man" (and let's face it, it is *still* a "man's world" and here in the USofA, that's white man (not that things aren't changing). The power holders can always be descerned by their "knowledge of style". For men, the suit and even the "dockers" are pricey and likely to be kept that way. After all, when (as a doctor i once had) put it "If you can't tell a doctor from a plumber [by the house that they live in], then what's the point?" This of course applies to the CAR, HOUSE, and even the restaurants where the bourgeois and tops live. For women, a curious thing occurs. It is considered a sign of distinction to be able to recognize top designer labels and purchase them at good wills etc. Of course, this must be offset with a high-dollar piece of jewelry. Now, this isn't to say anything against the people as such, there are many fine people that find it necessary to "fit in". However, when this becomes the defacto standard, then there is danger. After all, people will try to imitate this behaviour, and of course, falling short (since they can't actually afford the life-style to which they'd like to become accustomed to), frustration sets in, and then this leads to a buying frenzy of trying to "make it all go away" by surrounding themselves with more credit card debt -- all of which pleases the bourgeois money handlers and their top bosses. "Don't do as i do, do as i say" This is the most powerfull tool for put-ing someone in their place. You take a simple bit of action on their part, and magnify it up, and make it a CRITICAL element in judging them. Once the under-person accepts (or finally concedes) that this phony judgment factor has merit, they are easily manipulated, controlled, and kept down in their place. One common example, is the mis-use of the King's English as a weapon. Once you get a potential under-person to accept that you (the master) have a command of this "commodity" and that they do not, then you can easily "persaude" (usually via mockery, disdain, and out-right humiliation) them to put on the yoke of an under-person. (And then their language marks them forever; to remove these yokes, was/is/will-be my intention on the King's Englis site: Once people can learn the "knack" of the king's english then (yes, THEN) the tables can be turned. Once on the bus, (cross town connecting route), a BOSS and two of his underlings were on the bus -- oddly sitting at the back of the bus, overheard: underling-1: oh, yes, yes, yes (sycophantic yes-person stuff) .... BOSS: The box was as large as he. AH! The use of the predicate verb form. Of course it is *usually* spoken as: The box was as large as him. (thus implying the use of the accusative (object case) or at least some strange sort of dative (indirect-object). Of course, we of the Kings English know that the ACTUAL PROPER FORM IS: The box was as large as he IS. (see the "balancing verb" ?) Meanwhile, back at money. If i give you money, then i can determine how you are going to spend it. The oddest bit of this is when someone offers to buy me gasoline, and then insists on my buying the lowest grade possible (which is what these bourgeois people buy, unless they some how see it as beneath them to buy cheap gas). So, having no knowledge of anything automobilic, they: 1) Don't ever ask for Castrol (and pay the extra bit). 2) Don't buy that "high-dollar" gas; despite the equations clearly printed on the pumps. 3) Follow all of the directions to the letter (remember they can actually afford to have the oil changed every 3 thousand miles -- heaven forfend that the car-tech should forget to reset that little reminder light!! it would literally drive the bourgeois car-OWNER insane. (pun intended) Thus, equating money with power, and money with knowledge, etc, etc, etc, etc... etc. (wibble) Which again brings us to the aesthetic life and how it is looked down upon. When i announced at the work-fair at the un-employment commission that i was seeking a degree in art (oh, you should have heard the gufaws), and of course *that* degree wasn't on the "approved carrer funding" list. But, Lo! Graphic args was! (imagine that: Seeking the pure aesthetic of art for arts sake: VALUE ZERO; seeking to design glossy look-alike ad's, web-pages, etc (all associated with Business, which in turn is associated with money, and hence power -- hierarchy all the way up (and it's turtles all the way down) -- the business of america IS business), well then THAT careeer choice is valid and IS on the approved funding list. (figure that one took you by susprise!) And yet, all of those MSNBC, FOX news, and other *junk* things ALL depend on that same glossy art look (pretty odd to be looking at a blank screen with just text on a screen. -- more later, tired. Leg hurts, must have tylenol. Damit all.