RE: [OPE] Working Overtime Is Linked to Depression, Anxiety

Date: Sun Jun 22 2008 - 08:25:08 EDT

> The existence of illness in society is just as much an objective condition as 
> unemployment or overwork, and therefore there is no a priori reason for 
> thinking that unemployment and overwork must cause illness, and never 
> the other way round. 

Hi Jurriaan:

Well, I would never say NEVER  the other way around.  But, the point remains that,
contra the ideology of individualism, one can not take make _general_ statements
about capitalist relations of production, if one examines those social questions
primarily from the perspective of _individual_ bourgeois subjects.

This is really at the heart of bourgeois ideology and the mechanism of capitalist 
social control over workers.  The state and capital trumpet the refrains "If I did it, so 
can you"  and "you can do anything you want to do, you can be anyone you
want to be  - all you have to do is work hard enough  for it"  -- as if the answer to 
social questions is to be found through individual initiative.  The converse of this is "if 
you are in trouble (for instance, unemployed) then it's your own fault".  Hence, "you should
lift yourself up by your own bootstraps" (and thereby not engage in _social_ struggle).
This way of thinking has,  unfortunately, a deep following in the working class, especially in 
countries such as the USA where working class consciousness and historical memory is low. It's
one of the reasons why gambling (on sports, the lottery, horses, slot machines, you 
name it) is so popular within the class: i.e. they look for individual solutions to their social
predicament and, in so doing, engage in a self-deception and fantasy about their own 
class and social mobility.  These fairy tales serve important social functions. 
It's not coincidental that most viewers of the former TV shows "Lifestyles of the Rich and 
Famous" and "Dallas" were members of the working class.  Confronting this ethic of 
individualism - and the illusions and self-guilt that come with it - are important practical 
issues in political and social struggles.

I will concede this, though: for (just about) every general social statement that one
could make, their are exceptions. While many more people fall into the trap of the
fallacy of composition, the fallacy of division should similarly be avoided.  There
are exceptional and unusual circumstances which can shape particular historical
events. So, I can see why you rightfully reject a vulgar Marxist perspective which 
sees no role for individuals in history. But,  I think you (perhaps as a reaction to 
that tendency) bend the stick too much in the other direction.

In solidarity, Jerry_______________________________________________
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