Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ha Ha Ha!

This image was posted on reddit, apparently because it is hilarious:

Did you ever - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

I suppose it is funny in a self-referential way. Generally, I love self-reference. Here is one of my favorite self-referential limericks (from Scientific American magazine years ago):

There was a young man from Japan,
Whose limericks never would scan.
When someone asked why,
He said with a sigh,
"It's because I always try to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can."

Ba dum bum.

So, this silly little image got me thinking. The vast majority of workers deal with inanimate machines every day. The only folks who think they may some day have a career that does not involve dealing with one inanimate machine or another, are those folks who plan to become bosses, capitalist, exploiters, etc. The rest of us are going to be slogging away at one thing or another, facing idiotic machines and unreasonable requests and doing the best that we can to get by.

Recently, I got involved in a heated discussion in which I called someone out on their classism. The person I called out said she couldn't possibly be classist because she had no money. She completely missed the point. Classism is the idea that your work life would involve doing something other than working with inanimate machines. Classism is when you tell somebody that everybody else understands and agrees on something and that if you don't, you are fundamentally flawed. Classism is when you can seriously look someone in the face and say that being smart is more important than getting a degree or degrees from a university.

Classism is a lot of other things, too. Which I've written about before. To pretend that classism is solely about how many digits are in your bank account is ignorant. I am happy that we are learning more about how to respond when being called on our racism, our homophobia, our anti-trans assumptions, our anti-crip assumptions.

I am unhappy that this knowledge does not apply to classism. So back to the work of an activist. More on this to come.


Sarah said...

Interesting perspective on classism. I had never thought about it quite that way. I no doubt have some classism and I will do my best not to respond angrily if someone calls me out on it.

But, one question, what about people who are in "helping" professions - doctors, teachers, counselers, therapists, etc.? They don't sit in front of machines every day but they are not in the business or exploitation or capitalism either. The reason I ask is because I in fact currently spend most of my work time with a machine (as a programmer), and I have a strong desire to interact more with people in a meaningful way in my work life - but not as a boss or capitalist, but rather in some "helping" capacity. I want to help others have better lives. I have never thought of this as a classist desire, but perhaps it is in some way.

Sarah said...

Oh, I forgot to say that the limerick is great :)

Daisy said...

Looking forward to your thoughts!

Retail is as bad as machines... or rather, I sell stuff to the people who deal with machines! ;)

When people unequivocally state they aren't classist, yet they are actively doing things to GET AHEAD IN THE CLASSIST SYSTEM (i.e. going to school with the intention of getting better employment), they are engaging in what Trotsky would call an intrinsic contradiction. Class obviously directs them. Yet, they deny it influences them in the least.

Only in America.

Ravenmn said...

Welcome, Sarah. No worries. As long as you aren't making money off the labor of others, you aren't a capitalist scumbag. Also, remember that even people in the helping professions are at the mercy of machines and computers for a significant part of their day.

Daisy, I'm not averse to getting what we can out of the crappy system we are born into. Does that mean we disagree? I'm not sure.

Sarah said...

Also, remember that even people in the helping professions are at the mercy of machines and computers for a significant part of their day.

Heh, yes. I think I have a few unrealistic ideals about what a helping profession is like.

Daisy said...

Raven, I'd say I phrased it badly.

Not important, really. (I seem to fail at explanations lately.)