two passages strike me, each within a page from one another. have been thinking lately of Belley’s lecture about corporate totalitarianism: when efficiency/rationality overrides all other values, individual liberties start to fray…
“It’s nonsense to think that Americans are individualists,” Dennis Judd, an urban affairs professor at the University of Missouri’s St. Louis campus, told me. “Deep down, we are a nation of herd animals: mouselike conformists who will lay at the doorstep all our rights–if you tell us that we won’t have to worry about crime and that our property values will be protected.” Americans, he explained, willingly put up with restrictions inside a corporation that they would never put up with in the public sphere. Then he added that life within some sort of corporation is what the future will increasingly be like. “Just look at our [gated community] suburbs,” he said. “We are going to depend less and less on the public sphere.”
and we become unable to deal with the ‘irrational’.
As I drove through the St. Louis suburbs, I was struck by the inverse relationship between material possessions and conveniences on the one hand and social unity on the other. Are we, I wondered, increasingly a nation of overworked, lonely people? What struck me here was the high number of cars in the office parks late in the evening. In The Time Bend: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild claims that many women are actually fleeing their disorderly and tense home lives for the “reliable orderliness” of their work. In the 1980s and 1990s, the American worker’s work year increased by a month–164 hours. The link between overwork and the decline of the family seems obvious to me.