July 18th, 2011

red panda eating bamboo

Against "pursuing excellence"

I love this post to little tiny squishy pieces. I've always been suspicious of overemphasis on "excellence" and "progress." I seem to have avoided getting sucked in all the way by those values, but I've seen a great many of my friends beating themselves up using them. Maybe people would beat themselves up anyway if these concepts weren't around to use, but it gives me a huge grudge against the concepts. This post sets an overemphasis on "excellence" against working-class values ("work hard and do a good job") and claims that income inequality causes more overemphasis on "excellence." (Barbara Ehrenreich discusses similar ideas in Bright-sided—she argues that many Americans expect that unless they perfect their minds until they have only positive thoughts all the time, they won't ever succeed; and conversely that positive thoughts lead inexorably to success.

(Both of which expectations are bullshit...but bullshit that governments and corporations and other large organizations find it very useful to promulgate, since such bullshit leads people toward an overfocus on individuality and away from a focus on organizing, which might upset the power structure.)

by Jack Metzgar

Excerpts (emphasis mine):
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