Sunday, October 2

Anxious state of the working class

He’s depressed, they tell him. Then she looks out the window and answers with a tremulous smile that those things don’t happen to him. That he is not depressed. He is strong. How are you?, he receives those words in a hammering way in messages from concerned friends every time they identify again that something is happening that can affect him. IM perfectly. Nothing happens. I am very strong. But his chest weighs her down, meeting her sternum with the small of her back. Anxiety is that feeling of constantly living on the edge of the precipice, a state of constant panic in which everything seems to flow automatically with the certainty of living day to day crossing a highway at rush hour with blindfolded eyes with cars whistling between your steps. There is no better way to describe any given day of this everyday state of affairs.

A story in elDiario.es was not surprising this week. The purchase of antidepressants has skyrocketed in the last year by 10%, according to a report just published by the Drug Observatory. The report concludes that the increase is due to the fact that cases of depression have been on the rise since the outbreak of the pandemic. Some conclusions that are in line with scientific journals such as The Lancet, who stated that the health crisis had caused depression and anxiety to 129 million people in the year 2020. There are external actors who try to provoke that nervous state in the enemies, the working class is for them, to defeat them. It is an effective method of pressure used recurrently in social networks against adversaries trying to achieve with psychopathic ‘bulli’ strategies what their own actions have not rewarded in the world of events. It is a crude way of dumping frustrations on those you cannot control, envy or consider an obstacle to your goals. Being aware of these behaviors helps to combat them, because they turn the harasser into a pitiful being, a poor obsessive failure with the only pretense of succeeding and feeling proud with the evil of others. Understanding the ‘bulli’ as a sad failed character helps combat the anxiety that bullying can generate. It is an enriching exercise for those who have to suffer it, to imagine the naked king. The working class is used to dealing with these people in the real world.

Those who understand work from the Weberian “Protestant ethic” and have been raised in self-sacrificing working-class families are aware that work is not left. Work destroys you or you get fired. But it is not dispensed with even when they try to pressure you to quit. It is a somewhat self-destructive conception, but one that makes its owner invulnerable to the coarse pressures of the privileged without stranded hands. That is why it is difficult for a great resignation to occur in the generation of those raised by fathers and mothers born in the postwar period and the first Franco regime, because they have been raised in an insane stoicism that rewards Stajanovism and considers it a moral duty. A conception of work that feeds the vital anxious state, but causes external pressures to be pushed aside as naturally as a cow brushes away flies with her tail while she chews her cud.

Agota Kristof explained with the precision of a surgeon of letters what this load of vulnerability associated with their existence consists of that makes the working class more resilient even after a suicide attempt. A dialogue between a psychiatrist and a factory worker in which the doctor asks about the voices he hears and the images he thinks he sees. Where are those birds? Where do you see those planes? Where the piano and the tiger? The worker, saddened, replies: “I just wanted to rest. I couldn’t go on with my life like this, the factory and everything else…the absence of hope. Getting up at five in the morning, walking, running down the street to catch the bus, a forty-minute drive…running to put on the gray coat, clocking in by the clock, running to the machine, starting it up, drilling, drilling, always the same hole in the same piece, ten thousand times a day. Our salary and our lives depend on that speed.” It is the working condition, answers the psychiatrist. You should be glad you have a job. The file is closed.

It is very difficult to bend someone who understands work as a state of survival, in which one is never happy, but which is rooted in the depths of his identity because it is a necessary and inalienable duty for subsistence. There is no more powerful enemy than the one who has nothing to lose and who can never give in, because the system has created him as an efficient proletarian who has to work in a world hostile to each and every one of his values, but who defends his bread with blood in his eyes from the miserable attempts to deprive him of his livelihood. Tighten, because you will have to break it, a bar does not bend when cold.

Rumaan Alam describes in his work Leave the world behind the atmosphere of this time in which there is a constant sensation of uncertainty, of disaster, of natural tragedy. A mood in which there is no room for tranquility, not even in a moment of vacation. We live in a constant state of emergency without knowing how the day will end and what we will have to face the next season. A pandemic, a misdiagnosis, a war, an energy crisis, a natural catastrophe, disquieting inflation. Dystopia is not living in a situation in which any of these elements operate in your life, but with the feeling that something terrible will happen tomorrow that will radically end your well-being without knowing where the blow will come from. Assuming that this is the case makes the road to ataraxia more bearable.



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