Posted by PintofStout on April 24, 2007
As I happened by a colleague’s desk this morning, I noticed the wallpaper on the desktop of his computer had a picture of what I am assuming was him and a girl posed in front of, what I inferred to be, his vehicle before departing to prom or some special event in which people are proud to dress up. I can only guess, really, because there was a window open over most of it and all I could see were some legs and a vehicle prominently in the background. Into my head immediately jumped sarcastic remarks about the chummy nobility of the blue-collar mill worker who worked hard to have beers with his pals – also from the mill – and was damned proud of every little thing he had from his car right down to his girl (ranking one above the other would be hard and depend upon the age of the car, the age of the girl, and how fast each one was).
The iconic and stereotypical images of such humility and happy-go-luckyness are easy to find in our popular culture in movies like The Deer Hunter and the classic Gung Ho to numerous songs by Bruce Springsteen, John [Cougar] Melloncamp, and countless others. These 70’s standards have faded considerably in most places, but still burn brightly, probably in their very DNA, in the minds and hearts of people of all ages in the Pittsburgh area. The tough, bearded images of Steeler fans and the associated qualities behind similar stereotypes, I think, were created – and continue – to be ennobling qualities of a dreary life with little hope for much beyond very modest return on dirty grueling work. Regardless of who created this image, whether it was those benefiting from keeping expectations low in order to maintain a pliable, loyal workforce or those in the workforce looking for some relief for their psyche and self image, it is perpetuated to one group’s advantage and the other’s deception.
Deception in the manner provoking a feeling of some desired end while actually moving farther from that end is perhaps the most common and dangerous weapon politicians and charlatans of all sorts employ to keep from being lynched while fleecing the general public. Whether it’s a false-sense of security, spiritual salvation, patriotism, nobility, or material goals, the feelings evoked around these things placate the deceived while the actual goals move farther and farther away. Hardly anyone would choose a peanut butter sandwich over a turkey dinner, but restrict them to crackers and water for a long enough time and a peanut butter sandwich will seem like the penultimate of victuals and make them feel like it was a gourmet treat.
Houses, cars, and other creature comforts are the material manifestations of the specious goals created for proles who act as the energy source for the political class. The objects themselves aren’t necessarily poor goals. Hard work, loyalty and uncomplicated honesty are admirable traits and, indeed, necessary for beatific success in life. These things shouldn’t be ends to be sought and bestowed by one’s peer, though. If anything, they should be the means for advancing on larger goals that remain just out of reach, as any goal worth having should be just barely unachievable in total. Working for the weekend is a vacant, tiring, soul-crushing repetition, and the weekend a small band-aid on a festering wound with no prospect of healing. Many people live their entire lives in such a cycle because they’ve been led to believe it was the best they could do to make their lives complete.
Who is the benefactor of the artificial myopia infecting the iconic blue-collar stereotype? Could it be the industries that require compliant worker drones, the unions that need those same drones in this very situation to exist, or the politicians who need the unions for support, various industrial bogeymen to rescue that support from, and all the while keeping outlook artificially low to bolster the feel of the non-measures handed out? When a group looks no farther than the next weekend or the next vacation, why would they possibly look out for the long-term screwing they’ve been getting by the weak manipulative leeches turning their toil into treasure? Loving family, loyal friends, and various material wealth bought with honest work are noble aims, but their worth is made sweeter when they are the means to independent, individual goals made by men who pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.