Have you ever had somebody walk up to you at work, grinning away manically, and you just think “what do you want from me?” I have been pondering some concurrent phenomena, modern management techniques and systemic infantilsation.
It is a shame, in a way, that there are so many socialists who become teachers or lecturers. Not because the teaching profession shouldn’t be organised or that socialist teachers can’t open minds or make a difference in young people’s lives. Unfortunately the primary product of the education system is not knowledge (if it is tell me all you remember of trigonometry or irregular French verbs – these are just examples). The primary product is habit and deference, and these things are instilled despite the best intentions of the best teachers. That’s why we have an education system.
Why do managers who want to coerce a single individual shut them away in a small room? Why do managers who want to railroad a self-conscious group of workers gather the workers together and present their plans in a faux-democratic manner, called consultation? These are techniques used on people from the age of five.
Hierarchical authority relies on dependence and passivity. It relies on the inner child. Even at the best of times it is very hard to shake your formative education. This is a key aspect in why during revolutions without even realising it people given back what they have won. They cannot imagine a world without managers, bureaucrats, elected politicians, police officers etc, who in normal times they rely on.
It’s is the commonly considered theory that human beings evolved because they were neotenic apes, they preserved juvenile features into maturity. If social management depends infantilisation there is now a worrying trend of preserving social aspects of childhood into adulthood; middle youth, helicopter parenting. They're impressionistic examples, not to cast aspersions on anybody. We are not seeing a moral breakdown so much as describing facts. Here is an article written on the eve of the great crash weighing up the work prospects of Generation Y, who according to this are needy, moralistic, tech-dependent and crave formal structure and personal affirmation. With declining workforce numbers the author advises managers to get with Generation Y’s programme. Of course with mass youth unemployment these days bosses don’t have worry anymore. Young people, especially those on the government’s work programme (3.5% overall ‘success’ rate ), are even more dependent on the graces of the rich and powerful.