July 26, 2012

In defense of passive-aggressiveness

First, the very phrase sounds like it was invented, as a pejorative, by an aggressive-aggressive Type A American male. And, we all know those red-blooded Type A American males, and much of the country along with them, love aggressive-aggressiveness.

However ... and second ... much of American imperialism is passive-aggressive.

Rather than just attack American Indian tribes, we first make treaties with them, then break them, or get partial tribal representation to sign new ones which most the whites know aren't really binding in Indian terms. However we do it, we first butter them up, then attack.

Or, dollar diplomacy. Here, Caribbean nation, we want to lend you money to help you become more democratic (and more capitalist). No, we don't have imperial motives. Oh, but can't repay? Well, like Maximilian of France/Austria in Mexico, we'll just have to invade. (Today, we're kinder and take it to the IMF instead.)

Or neoconservativism. Here, Middle East ... we want to make you democratic. But, with a new version of the old American-leaning, Israel-tolerating elites in power. And, you still have to protect our oil interests.

In short, passive-aggressiveness is the story of American imperialism.

Third, in today's aggressive-aggressive (and passive-aggressive, via "free trade") American economy, employees, contra self-empowerment gurus, usually don't have the luxury of saying "I quit" to the boss, let alone "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it any more."

Passive-aggressiveness isn't "wrong" in such cases; it's the best viable option for maintaining one's personal integrity, one's "space," one's mental self-defenses and more.

Beyond that, things like "blue flu," job slowdowns and the like have been, in the past, classic tools of American labor.

Now, if you're dealing with an equal, I won't defend passive-aggressiveness. And certainly not if you're inflicting it on an inferior.

But, to a superior?

Hell, yes!

I raise my glass in a toast to passive-aggressiveness!

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