While bullying in schools has received much-needed attention in recent years, the bullying of vulnerable workers tends to be swept under the rug. For the coverage the issue receives, both the mainstream media and the all-powerful corporations label workers who try to unionize or stand up for their rights as "troublemakers" who need to be silenced or “put in their place”. The sad truth is that being an employee in the United States of America will inevitably involve some level of structural bullying.
Corporate or institutional bullying differs from personal bullying because the managers involved are required to act as agents of the company when they threaten or abuse workers. Even “nice” managers may be forced to cut wages or lay off staff. They are carrying out institutional orders from the executives above them on the corporate ladder, and are not necessarily acting upon their personal motives to intimidate or humiliate their employees.
Karl Marx long ago pointed out that unequal power is an inextricable aspect of capitalist systems. Institutional bullying flows automatically out of capitalist power hierarchies and market structures. Minimum-wage workers at fast-food multinationals and giant retail chains like Walmart are currently struggling to create a new labor movement for modern times. Without the power of unions, corporate bullying tactics like keeping wages low and making workers submissive run rampant.
It’s clear that our system of unchecked capitalism is to blame for both unethical corporate activity and its result: environmental destruction.
According to author and activist, Naomi Klein, because our society has ignored the urgent warnings and pleas for action from climate scientists for well over two decades, the paths formerly available to avert catastrophic global warming are now closed to us. Humanity is at an unpleasant crossroads that some people still cannot see or accept: the end of civilization as we know it or the end of unchecked capitalism as we know it. Greedily opting to continue “unregulated capitalism” over human civilization is a “morally monstrous” choice, in Klein’s words.
Climatologist Michael Mann has stated that “there’s a huge procrastination penalty when it comes to emitting carbon into the atmosphere”. In other words, the longer we wait, the more greenhouse gases build up; hence, the more radically we must change our behavior to reduce the risks of catastrophic warming.