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August 01, 2015
How to Tame a Prole

The excerpt below is from a 1961 book by the late John Schaar called Escape from Authority. Professor Schaar was an army buddy of mine at Ft. Bragg in the mid-1950s, before our rulers figured out that it would be easier to go to war if they didn’t draft Ph.Ds (or even college freshmen). James Carville once described the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as “two big cities with Alabama in between.” Jack Schaar was from the Alabama part, where you went to work on the farm when you got through with high school. He had heard, though, that you could go to college in California for free, so he stuck out his thumb and headed west.

That was before our rulers figured out that ambitious poor white trash could be kept in their place with crippling loans if you just did away with that free tuition thing. Risk-free loans, of course, backed by the suckers themselves in their role as tax payers. Loans that could never be discharged in bankruptcy the way they could if the suckers had only been corporation-people instead of just people-people.

Anyway, Jack was lucky enough to be able work his way through to a doctorate and become a hugely-admired professor of political science at Berkeley and U.C. Santa Cruz. And here he is, or was in 1961. It wasn’t yet clear that limitless consumption was just the first step in the taming of the proles. Properly managed, it would turn them into obedient debt slaves, voting for massa.

Under present conditions, co-management and workers’ participation would most probably mean only an acceleration of the present powerful tendencies toward materialism and what Fromm calls alienated consumption, for the workers have no conception of any moral or aesthetic order beyond the present one. What has to be recognized is that the workers have been all “corrupted,” tamed. And they have been tamed to the harness of meaningless work not by the stick of hunger but by the carrot of limitless consumption, by the vision of utopia offered by the ad-men and sold on the installment plan.

Only if this is kept in mind can one explain the astonishing fact that organized business and organized labor have combined to make productivity, profit, and “full” employment — that is, work in its inescapable modern meaninglessness — the dominant and almost the sole aim and function of the communities’ internal political life. The principal feature of our political life is the use of truly prodigious means for paltry ends. After all, the expenditure of a very small proportion (the Goodmans estimate 1/7) of our available resources of labor, time, money, and materials would provide all Americans with a very solid “subsistence.” The remainder goes for luxury and emulative consumption goods — as though we had already thought through to a solution the profound moral and political question of the relation between standard of living and quality of life.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at August 01, 2015 04:34 PM
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They were singing this in the sixties.

The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #64616 Message #2279773
Posted By: GUEST,Winnifred
04-Mar-08 - 08:12 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: A Dollar Down and a Dollar a Week

The version of the song I know is by the Limeliters, and I wrote out the lyrics a while back. The * at the end of a sentence means that it is followed by the phrase "Dollar down and a dollar a week"

This song is about a friend of mine who bought an automobile *
And every time he turned the wheel *
He got a credit card for the new machine *
And he kept it full of gasoline *

Just a dollar down
And a dollar a week
You can get all the things you seek
For a dollar down and a dollar a week

Well he went speeding on down the road
And kissing his gal upon her cheek
They took him to jail
but he put up bail *
The judge did fine him fifty bucks
And asked if he would like to speak
He said "Judge if I may,
I'd like to pay" *


When he got out, he married that gal *
He bought a wedding ring that was pretty cheap *
Refrigerator, and washing machine *
And the food stayed cold and the clothes stayed clean *


They got themselves a little home *
With a second mortgage and a pretty good loan *
He said to his wife, "It's a pretty good life" *
And she said, "Honey, we don't need much money." *


But six little kids did soon arrive *
He had so many worries that he could not sleep *
As their debts began to mount
They added them up upon a sheet
They said with tears "Will take a thousand years at a
Dollar down and a dollar a week"


Posted by: Dave on August 1, 2015 11:03 PM
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