Structures of Power (Vignette Six)

[Steve’s note – this continues the various short vignettes highlighting parts of Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man Here are links to the introduction, could becoming should, religion, rationalization of brutality and threats that aren’t threats.]

Vignette Six

The employer tells the assembled workers that if someone needs special medical care, they will “work with us on an individual basis”.

The wave of relief palpably flows across the auditorium. The low murmurs of discontent quiet with a hundred individuals imagining the exceptions all being for them.

When another worker questions the harsh rules, the others roll their eyes.

“Weren’t they listening?” one asks. “They’ll make special exceptions.”

Vignette Six and a Half
He told me that it wasn’t enough for them to just fix his problem.

He transitioned from female to male while in college. Bureaucratic paperwork was one of his biggest problems; a simple change of a letter from M to F seemed to be beyond the capability of an entire university. But simply changing his own record was not his goal, though.

“I made it my mission on campus to run into all the walls I could, so the person behind me didn’t have to run into that [sic] and could just go straight on through.”

Vignette Six and Three Quarters
When I talk to people about race, I often paraphrase a passage from Privilege, Power, and Difference:

“When I was playing Monopoly with my children, I realized that I was being mean to them. It was not anything personal; it was just the way the game is played. To be nice to someone while playing Monopoly is cheating. You’re breaking the rules. But I am not mean to my children. I don’t want to be mean to my children.

So I stopped playing Monopoly.”

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