Thursday, January 28, 2010

QBQ! Chapter Five: The Victim

Take it away, Johnny:
I received an e-mail from a gentleman who wrote that during his ten years in the military, whenever something went wrong, the only acceptable response was "No excuses, sir!" He accepted it, he believed it, and he lived it.
He also murdered people for a living, but to all right-thinking people that is supposed to be irrelevant to the point of being untrue. I would tend to think that an organization, particularly one as large as the US Military (Ha ha! I joke! There are no organizations as large as the US Military!) in which "the only acceptable response" to something going wrong is "No excuses" is one in which things are going to go wrong an awful lot, and in which nothing is ever going to be learned from this.
When he returned to civilian life, he started working as a territory manager for a large firm in the food industry. He wasn't doing as well as his company expected, and he wasn't pleased with his own performance, either.
Because how in the hell could any human be pleased with their performance as "a territory manager for a large firm"? It isn't possible. Not even for bureaucratic murderers of the type the military produces. Not for anyone. I am as certain of this as I am of anything in this life (which is to say, not very certain at all, but I hope I'm right).

Miller goes on to tell us that this "gentleman" asked all kinds of Incorrect Questions of his manager until "he went through an in-house training program on personal accountability and the QBQ," after which he
closed his e-mail saying, "I realized when I learned the QBQ that from military to business, in just a few years, I had become what I hated the most: the victim."
This quote could not be more perfect if I had made it up. It's entirely possible that Miller made it up, of course, but if he did so he made it up in order to agree with it, to praise it. This is the kind of insane, hate-filled drivel we're dealing with here in the guise of an inspirational text. The thing you hate the most is the victim? Good god.

"Hating the victim" is perhaps the most pernicious pattern of thought there is. In the context of the military, it certainly explains a lot--for example, how people learn to live with themselves, not thinking of themselves as mass murderers even when they go into poor communities in poor countries and kill the shit out of defenseless poor people, in order to rain profits down on their betters. Closer to home, it explains the prevalence of rape in military communities, and the even-worse-than-usual treatment of its survivors. In a larger context, it's responsible for, among other things, the hate and fear white people have for Blacks, as well as the general sense of disdain most of us feel for anyone of lower class than ourselves. We hate those we have victimized, because otherwise our only option is to hate ourselves.

This military man, having been placed in the position of victim rather than victimizer, had two options: he could grow a sense of empathy, or he could pretend not to be a victim. He, with the QBQ as facilitator, chose the latter, because the former would have required him to question everything he had done up to that point. The latter requires only submission--something a military man is well-trained in.

The irony, of course, is that by submitting he is participating in his own victimization, whereas by learning empathy he would be taking the first steps in combating it. As Annie Hall would say, la-dee-da, la-dee-da.

QBQ! Table of Contents


fledermaus said...

"whenever something went wrong, the only acceptable response was "No excuses, sir!""

What he means here is that the only acceptable response to a commanding officer is "No excuses" - the higher ups are free to invent all the excuses they want, including blaming him

Unknown said...

If he admits he's being victimized, then years of conditioning will crash down on him and he'll start thinking he must have done something to deserve it. The possibility of innocent victims raises the possibility that you, too, could be unfairly victimized. It's much less stressful to just deny reality.

Offtopic, i'm amused that the word verification for this post is "hatedem."

Ethan said...

Hahaha, hatedem. Good point about "innocent victims."

fledermaus--Well, of course there are different standards for "the higher ups" and the rest of us, inside the military and outside of it. Otherwise, society would collapse.

d.mantis said...

I look forward to the QBQ posts as I would a good meal.

I began by thinking this was one of those bullshit self-help and common sense spouting drivel as that so often gets pimped by Oprah.

Now I just think Miller is fucking dangerous, man.

Ethan said...

Aw, thanks!

And yes--Miller is dangerous. I've heard otherwise sensible people (as in, people--OK, person--I've seen reading Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis) talk about him like he's brilliant. Scary stuff.

JRB said...

Well, in Miller's defense, he has a point about personal responsibility. He just doesn't take it to the logical conclusion of overthrowing capitalism.

Ethan said...

Overthrowing capitalism is the logical conclusion of everything.