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Mark Karlin – How Capitalism Fosters Bullying

The following is an interview exploring the systemic problem of bullying in US society. Truthout speaks with Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass, authors of Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society.

Mark Karlin: We often approach bullying from a single perspective. For instance, someone might start a campaign to stop bullying in the schools. The subheadline in your book, however, indicates that bullying cannot be stopped by isolating it: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society. How did you come to see this as a systemic cultural problem?

Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass: Bullying has been a means of controlling people, putting them in “their place,” for perhaps as long as there have been humans. Until about 20 years ago, it was dismissed as “normal,” a rite of passage that children and adolescents must go through and “get over.” Some endure relatively little of it — perhaps they are bullies themselves — and it leaves little long-term impact. For others, it is a trauma that leaves lifelong scars.

For the most part, the discourse on bullying has been controlled by psychologists, who see it as a problem for individuals who need therapy, but we need to look at why it is so entrenched; do powerful people and institutes have an interest in encouraging and perpetuating it?

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