Here is a poster that I found particularly excruciating to find hanging up in a public school classroom:

An excruciating poster to find in a public school classroom.

For most of my life, as I’ll bet for the most of yours, we’ve had this canard drilled into our skulls that if you can’t change the material circumstances in which you find yourself, you should just smile, simply change the way you think about it, and unquestioningly accept the status quo and everything will be all better. Don’t view the glass as half empty, view it as half full and be thankful for it. Despite its creepy Orwellian suggestiveness, this way of thinking can actually be very useful in order to help someone keep a resilient mindset in the correct contexts in which when obsequiousness is not the ultimate expectation. Just to take myself as an example, though I’m educated and a state certified professional, I have next to nothing; I have little more than a 15 year-old car, a bed, a cot and an un-hinged door to serve as a dining table, but it’s also 36 degrees at night and I have a warm place to sleep, an internet connection, any one of my collection of firearms within an arm’s reach and food in my fridge; I’m cozy enough. Call me an ascetic, but I think of myself as a fan of simple pleasures. Times are hard, but there is simply no point in moping about it to the point of indolence; I see entirely too many people on the street corners and under bus benches at night with far, far less. What I, or anyone else does about our respective or collective situations is what matters, and I’ll come to that very soon.

There is a far more insidious undertone to the message of this poster, especially when I see the contrasts between the two faces on this poster. When I hear defenders of the neoliberal capitalist economic order respond sneeringly to the meekest protest of economic inequality with the assertion that millions of people on Earth would kill for a minimum wage job in the US, I can’t help but think of such a mindset in implicitly threatening terms. I cannot help but take that as a sign of how deeply the most ardent and interested defenders of capitalism eternally strive to immiserate the whole of the human species save for themselves. I cannot help but think of it as anything but a mindset that is to be beaten, shot, gassed, or pepper-sprayed into the faces of those who do fight back against such a concerted, coordinated and highly organized effort to scour into the face of humanity a permanent economic order by which a scant few enjoy tiny islands of exquisite luxury at the expense of a vast, unending, unchallenging, unalterable ocean of the impoverished. I cannot help but hear the implication that, if the working class demands any better than what the Earth’s greater proportion of the world’s immiserated would allegedly kill them for, that the capitalist class would have their state agents kill them instead for such ungratefulness.

With the brutal police crackdowns on the Occupation movement, many of which, it should not be ignored, have been orchestrated by mayors elected on a Democratic Party ticket, I now can’t help but view this poster as an implicit threat of what will happen if you don’t shut the fuck up, move your tents to the doors of Wal-Mart the night before Black Friday, and smile cheerfully as people brawl and degrade themselves over $2 waffle-makers, or watch in horror as a bunch of cops bash a grandfather’s face into the floor for allegedly shoplifting.

It infuriates me that we are engineering a generation of schoolchildren to embrace hyperindividualism and to rejoice as their last collective act is to immolate the social halves of their respective human selves in a mutual suicide-pact in order to play the grand capitalist lottery of mega-success and fall upon each other as predators in that hopeless game, the rules of which are written and rewritten by a ruling class that can only stand to benefit from a working class that has self-atomized upon lines of race, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, or any other subset of the identity politics which I so passionately hate as they are irredeemably crippling to our collective working-class interests.

In a small act of protest, I propose a radically different alternative ethos by which the generations of human beings damaged by decades of neoliberal capitalist indoctrination can purge the mode of thinking that has made a virtue of selfishness in order to nullify our ability to recognize our common interests as working-class people who comprise the vast majority of human beings in existence.

In short, I propose that we think upon these lines:

“If you can’t change it, we all can change it.”

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