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?