Bullying 101

Bullying 101

by Susan Rosenthal

We hear a lot about school-age bullying. From one-third to one-half of grade-school students report being bullied and bullying others. However, bullying doesn’t begin in school; it’s built into the capitalist system.

Our world is saturated with bullying, from the public realm of international relations and violent sports to the private domain of the family.

Stronger nations dominate weaker ones. Employers target one worker, or group of workers, to control the rest. Teachers humiliate one student, or group of students, to discipline them all. The boss kicks the worker, who goes home and kicks the kid who kicks the dog. More than one-third of Americans have witnessed domestic violence, and almost one in three adults suffered physical or sexual assault in childhood.

“I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal.”

Childhood bullying is a “copycat” response to the adult bullying that dominates our world. (Even hamsters can learn to bully. When normally placid hamsters are threatened or attacked as youngsters, they become cowards when caged with larger hamsters and bullies when caged with smaller ones.)

Pre-schoolers play games like “King of the Castle” to prepare for a world of winners and losers. Every child has proudly crowed on top of the tallest mound and been humiliated by someone who got there first or who was strong enough to push them off. “Cowboys and Indians” is practice in domination and subordination. Such “play” prepares youngsters for a society that will pit them against each other, advancing the winners and crushing the losers.

Why so much bullying?

For the 1% to stay in power, they must divide the 99%. Bullying serves this purpose.

Employers  encourage bullying in the workplace, because workplace bullies create an environment of distrust and division that makes it harder to organize against management.

Because bullying is essential to maintain class divisions, it permeates society.

In 2002, four police officers beat a handcuffed Black youngster, dragged him along the ground and slammed him against a police car. Apparently, the officers became enraged when Donovan Jackson, who had hearing and speech problems, did not respond quickly enough to their verbal commands.

Imperialist wars are bullying on a grand scale. When President George W. Bush wanted Iraq’s oil, he didn’t offer to buy it; he didn’t negotiate for it; he took it by brute force, using the flimsiest excuses.

The mainstream media condemn bullying among children, but ignore it in presidents, politicians, police, judges, generals and CEOs.

Bullying cannot be eradicated under capitalism. We can put an end to bullying only by organizing ourselves to replace capitalism with a cooperative, egalitarian society.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Jay Sherman Says:

    May 19/07

    I agree it all comes back to capitalism.

    Currently I work at a hospital where we are understaffed to save every last penny. The overworked workers look for someone to take their unhappiness out on. Instead of targeting capitalism, they target each other.

    The orderlies complain that the nurses are lazy. People in Materials think the orderlies are lazy, etc, etc, etc. Of course, the orderlies also complain about each other. Everyone back-stabs (in other words, everyone competes) as the worst performers periodically lose their jobs, and so the threat of starvation etc. always looms.

    “Compete or die” / Assimilate (or (be) annihilated.

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