Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > Only Idiots Compete in Earnest Against their Peers

Only Idiots Compete in Earnest Against their Peers

In the last few weeks, I have been working on a bunch of posts that deal with how the upper-middle class mindset is one of (if not) the biggest hindrances to any gradual and useful change in the current system. Though most of these specific example driven posts are still not complete, it occurred to me that many of them have similar underlying themes. The current post explores one of those themes. For the purposes of this post “white-collar” is used to denote people who either have, or aspire for, desk jobs with some petty power. They include middle-level managers, executives, doctors, lawyers, academics, engineers, scientists and pretty much anyone who gets credit and a little extra money for the work of people under them.

One of the important, but rarely discussed, differences in attitude between blue-collar and white-collar workers concerns how they related to their peers. While the typical interactions of blue-collar workers with their peers are far from good, let alone ideal- they seem to generally have significantly better inter-personal relations with their peers than white-collar workers. You might have also noticed that blue-collar labor unions have been far more common and numerous than white-collar unions. But why would that be the case? Why are blue-collar workers more likely to participate in groups which also limit their maximal potential in exchange for more security and better working conditions? More importantly, why are white-collar types so averse to labor unions?

In my opinion, it comes down to recognizing something that is obvious- but which most white-collar (and upper middle-class) types deliberately avoid thinking about. Indeed, they spend all their lives trying to do the exact opposite.

Only an idiot would deliberately and earnestly compete against his or her peers.

The most important difference between blue-collar and white-collar workers is not about differences in levels of formal education, artistic tastes or social attitudes. It is bout how they see their peers. Blue-collar types tend see their peers as colleagues (good or bad) who are in the same boat they are in. White-collar types see their peers as life-long adversaries who do not belong in the same boat they are in. Some also believe that they “really” belong to a much more exclusive boat and were just plain unlucky to land in their one they are in.

Almost every white-collar type sees his peers as his or her biggest enemy. His (or hers) biggest ambition in life is to somehow triumph over them and move to a “better” place. This is also why white-collar types are so readily seduced by ideas such as “IQ”, prestigious educational institutions, meritocracy, work ethic, thrift, hard work and all those other beliefs used by the rich parasites to exploit them for their own ends. That is also why they, more so than the parasitic rich, exhibit NIMBY tendencies.

The white-collar types live in a world of perpetual covert strife and intrigue; a world in which all human relationships carry a precise (and often very low) monetary value. They live and thrive by gaming the system. These scams range from entrance exams to certain high income (by middle-class standards) professions, choosing the right social circle, the right zip code, the right school district, the right hobbies, the right vacations, the right causes and professed beliefs.

They will invest years of their lives in “education” also known as credentialing and compete with each other to attend supposedly prestigious institutions. They will work extra hard against each other to make their already rich parasitic employers richer and become their loyal dogs and enforcers. They will almost never question prevalent beliefs and try to assert their superiority by trying to mock those who point out the obvious. They will always spend more time detailing their life choices to assert their superiority even if they seldom enjoy what they are doing- kinda like talking about diverse sexual positions without actually enjoying any of them.

They will spend every waking moment trying to rise above and screw over their peers.

And this brings us to the obvious followup question- Why don’t the blue-collar types generally exhibit this level of peer hate and contempt? I believe that this to do with a different worldview. White-collar, and other semi-autistic types, can only see what they want to see and yes.. “education” plays an important role in this creating this highly filtered world view. The blue-collar types, not possessing the mental filters of their white-collar counterparts, can see much more- including stuff that clearly contradicts official dogma. They are also far more willing to call out the obvious lies rather than politely tow the official line. Consequently they make bad managers, henchmen and flunkies for the parasitic rich.

What do you think? comments?

  1. Bobby
    April 18, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    You missed a key point. Blue collar workers serve a master that wear a white collar. White collar serve a master that a wears….a white collar. In other words, white collar workers have an obscured view of the system because they think are in ruling part of the system…even if they’re aren’t. To the blue collar, it’s very obvious how the sides are drawn up and what side he’s on.

    I have written about that issue in some of my older posts.

  2. webe
    April 19, 2014 at 8:05 am

    The part about mental filters is very important. What we call adult character or healthy ego is basically the assimilation of a psychological armor with which to “overcome” reality. Once in place it is rare to see people open themselves to the lessons of new experiences.

    Research in the fifties showed that academics were least resilient to propaganda whereas simple farmers were the most. Ignorant people tend to have a lot of unpleasant and stubborn prejudices, but they are nonetheless less open to manipulation than the more educated classes.

    Reminds me of the repartee by Oscar Wilde concerning another dinner guest, who showed a want of knowledge that must be the result of years of study.

  3. April 20, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    One of the important, but rarely discussed, differences in attitude between blue-collar and white-collar workers concerns how they related to their peers. While the typical interactions of blue-collar workers with their peers are far from good, let alone ideal- they seem to generally have significantly better inter-personal relations with their peers than white-collar workers.

    You said it.

    I was recently thinking about just this. When I was new to a blue collar job, I would face a couple of weeks “hazing” where I’d get laughed at and more or less treated with scorn, but then it would be over and I’d be accepted as one of the bunch. It was more or less healthy and understandable. I could understand why they were laughing and it was possible to not take it personally.

    In a white collar position, it is horrible from the beginning and it never lets up. It is just plain miserable and acceptance is never given. I’m treated as insufficient and inferior, and there’s no way allowed to prove or demonstrate I am not. The attacks, as they are usually aimed at my intelligence and competency, I can’t help but take somewhat personally. There is sabotaging and undermining.

    Another thing– sometimes at the white collar jobs there are individuals or groups of individuals who work all day and night– and I am not exaggerating. They don’t have any kind of life outside work– they sacrifice all their time to the job. You’re competing for approval with kamakazi idiots. I’ve never seen that on a blue collar job. Many of the blue collar workers want whatever overtime they can get– I’ve never seen it be more than a few hours in the evening.

    Also, and I think this is important– for men, the annual income differential between those with college degrees and those without college degrees is not very large. Add to that many blue collar workers, e.g. those in construction, work seasonally. They make just a little less, but may have a good four or five months prime leisure each winter. I’ll take that deal any day of the week. It’s probably obvious the smarter and better men aren’t going to college ’cause it’s an unrewarding, expensive waste of youth and finances.

  4. May 24, 2014 at 5:20 am

    The blue-collar worker sees the job as an economic transaction. He does work, they give him money. If the employer begins abusing the asymmetric power between a big organization and the individual, they’ll unionize.

    Now, blue-collar people tend (on average) to be more susceptible to other forms of lies (e.g. right-wing, dogmatic religion; mindless sacrifice in the name of “patriotism”; misconceptions about their position in raw economic terms due to poor mathematical skill and lacking understanding of economics) but they harbor no illusions about why they work and what it means. They don’t buy into exploitative career lotteries designed to exploit narcissists.

    You’ve diagnosed the white-collar neurosis perfectly. They perceive themselves to be temporarily embarrassed executive millionaires who’ve simply been placed wrong on account of some historical force (generational malfeasance) or bureaucratic fuckup. They all think “I’m better than this” and they’re not wrong. In terms of the work they’re being asked to do, and the environment that rewards subordinacy over excellence, they *are* in an environment designed for lesser people.

    Because the narcissistic contention (“I’m better than this work/these people/this salary”) is socially unacceptable, the counterreaction that becomes the social face is one of extreme conformism and “team-player” nonsense.

  5. Dominic Jacobson
    June 1, 2014 at 5:53 am

    I agree with this post on some levels but I think it’s a bit patronising to level the same charge at all white collar and blue collar workers. Some blue collar workers express their competitive natures through sports and the neanderthal notion of the sports club as representative of some tribe. The blue collar worker may fool you into thinking that he or she knows their place in the workplace but you test them on their loyalty to a team that feeds off their exploitation then you’ll see a different breed of ape. Also, not all white collar middle management type people are delusional narcissists. Some are anarchists that feel trapped and don’t know how to get out and need to earn a crust so Tarquin can go to a good school where there are no crackheads with knives, whereas some may just be suffering from good old cognitive dissonance.
    When both groups start to abandon the en masse social indoctrination scheme that is shoved down their throats by television, advertising,the media,politics,religion, sports,national culture, patriarchic attitudes etc etc then we may see some real change.

  6. Unimportant
    April 16, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Interesting idea. Just one thing: Please don’t use the word ‘autistic’ like this, it’s unfair towards people with autism.

    Perhaps I should have said ‘aspie-like’.

  7. Name
    April 18, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I knew an older guy who worked as a heavy duty mechanic. He was a friend of my dad and worked alongside him for many years. He was a skilled tradesman and well liked and respected. One day he suffered an accident, so instead of giving him workman’s comp the company placed him in a supervisor role. He ended up quitting his job a month later because he didn’t want to push his friends. I think most tradesmen dislike being put in a position of authority over other tradesmen. Experienced blue collar workers regularly turn down promotions. This is their character.

    A white collar worker would have relished the raise and the “impressive” title. They’d go home and the first thing they’d do is update their linkedin profile so they can showcase their increased status. To me this is an awful way to live, chasing after phony titles and a few thousand bucks per year in cash, if that. Had I known I’d be surrounded by these kinds of jackasses for 40+ years I would I would have chosen the trades.

    • P Ray
      April 18, 2016 at 11:51 am

      Try striking out on your own, at least on a part-time basis – whether you’re a burger flipper at your own burger cart, or a technical specialist for hire … you’ll get more satisfaction of a job well done, all the money – and the chance to build a reputation and a living when things slow down on the job (people have now started saying that if you’re fired by 35 – getting another job is extremely difficult without connections – that is why the white collar (managers, administrators, evangelists and mouth-workers) people network like crazy.

      Plus you also get a good glimpse into other peoples’ lives: people speak candidly, and you can discover a lot about them when they think you’re just a servant (they forget – who gets to keep all the money, and doesn’t have a leader to answer to).
      Of course, you can also deny service to the abusive, which provides a frisson of empowerment.

  1. May 26, 2014 at 8:19 am
  2. March 3, 2017 at 10:24 pm

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