An essay by Henrik Johansson, exploring the perverse ideology perpetuated during capitalist crisis
When the next crisis comes, and it will, you will lose your job. There is a connection, but you will not see it. The management will say it’s a result of reduced orders and lack of work, with what you perceive as honest intimacy and regret.
You shall consider not telling anything to your family, but every morning to get up, drink coffee and leave home. You imagine that you will be looking for a new job that you can proudly present to them one fine day. The plan is too absurd and you never try it.
It shall not be the crisis’ fault, nor your managers’ fault, nor their managers’ or shareholders’ fault, nor the society’s, nor the government’s. It shall be your own fault – because you could have done better, because you could have reeducated, worked your way up, been more responsive towards your clients and your managers.
Your children will feel shame when they realise that you are poor. They will stop begging for things in the store, like you always wished they would, they will stop wanting the same things that their friends have, your older son will say to your younger daughter that she is spoiled.
If anyone asks, you shall say that you’re between jobs.
You will return, as a trainee, to your old workplace to perform your old tasks. Your compensation from the Employment Office shall be 58% of your former salary. You will have a stomach ache when you go to work. It’s hard to grasp why, since it’s better than being home.
You shall not start drinking too much, you shall not start taking drugs, you shall not start gambling too much.
You will consider suicide, but you lack courage to do it and you will feel contempt for your own weakness and inability to deal with your own situation.
Once your period as a trainee is over, you will once again be unemployed and they will get a new trainee, but they promise to call if something turns up. They will not call.
You shall not rob stores or protest. You shall not write letters to the editor, nor blame someone else. You shall not throw stones at the police.
At the Job Centre there is equality. You shall not be treated worse than an unemployed politician or banker. You must fill out the same forms as anyone. Democracy does not acknowledge any privileged or slighted, no sweethearts, and no stepchildren.
You will be offered to join a computer course. Anyone who rejects the offer will lose their benefits. You shall accept the offer. A woman will say that she is a programmer and could have been a teacher for the course. The administrator shall ensure that the woman loses her benefits if she declines the offer. The same rules apply to everyone.
For a brief moment in the computer course, you, him and she suddenly becomes we and us. The teachers and the Employment Office will be them. It will feel good. They will then talk to you, he and she and tell you that it’s every man for himself. You must be reminded of your loneliness and that you have yourselves to blame and that it is only you who can do something about your situation.
You shall realise that they are right: it’s only you who can do something about your situation.
You shall understand that it is us against them.