Pierre Fraser is an author, essayist, and PhD candidate in sociology at Université Laval. We share an abiding interest in healthism or, as Pierre would say, santéisme. For the original version of this post, see L’individu devenu déchet. Pierre blogs at Pierre Fraser and tweets as @pierre_fraser.
Unlike some countries these days, America seems to have little difficulty tolerating the idea of multiculturalism. An explanation for this, perhaps, can be found in the American ideology of success. This ideology acts like a suction pump, removing any alternative explanations of how the world should work. This myth is contagious. The American dream – you can be whatever you want to be – circles the globe like a very powerful trademark.
In the myth of the self-made man, everything is possible. So powerful is this belief that nothing seems able to deter it. Contact with this idea creates the equivalent of an addiction. Every addiction, however, has its downside. We forget that every day “two types of trucks leave the factory: one type goes to the warehouse and department store, the other to the landfill. We have grown up with a story that considers only the first truck and ignores the second. ” 
The ideology of success creates a blindness that is pernicious. The media glorify successful people, especially those who struggle against overwhelming odds and are ultimately victorious. Small and insignificant individuals are transformed into the powerful. They are the American heroes. When the media talk about success, however, they ignore the army of the unemployed. These waste products of the success factory — those destined for the landfill — have, after all, failed.
Since the beginning of the industrial era, the unemployed have functioned as the reserve army of labor. They survived with the hope that someday they would surely be recalled from unemployment into active service. Today, however, the destination of those who become unemployed is the landfill of poverty and the psychological trash heap. As Danièle Linhart points out, “these men and women not only lose their jobs, their projects, their dreams and the assurance of a life under their control: they are also deprived of their dignity as workers, their self-esteem, their sense of purpose and their place in society.”
My colleague Georges Vignaux and I would like to understand just what is happening here. What does the future hold for those men and women who become the waste by-products of the success factory? Each time we look under the hood of this astounding mechanism, what becomes increasingly clear is that protest marches and riots seem to be the most appropriate mode of expression for those who have become fed up. Why, I ask you, should all these disqualified people respect the rules of the success game? If work rules are ignored by the very people who have laid them down, how can the unemployed not perceive this as an aggression and a gross injustice?
Perhaps what we are trying to understand here does not affect you. After all, you still have a job that allows you to have a nice house or a decent apartment. You can feed your family and entertain yourself. Maybe you tell yourself that those who are unemployed simply need to exert themselves — to do what it takes to find another job. The problem is, we have learned not to even consider the trucks going to the landfill. We choose to believe that everyone sees only those first trucks on their way to the department store and warehouse.
Just as storing industrial waste in refrigerated containers is no way to create valuable market commodities, storing the unemployed — letting them go to waste — in unemployment programs will not turn them into valuable employees for today’s market. Why? “When the protections afforded by the state against existential chills are gradually dismantled, when the institutions of collective self-defense, such as unions and other instruments of collective bargaining are losing their power under the pressure of economic competition that reduces the solidarity of the weak, it becomes necessary for individuals to seek, find, and develop individual solutions to social problems and to test them through individual actions like riots and protest marches. Such tools and resources, however, are inadequate when they are up against the mechanisms that have turned them into waste products.” The destination of this process is quite obvious: programmed and scheduled poverty.
Thanks to Jan Henderson for this translation !
 Bauman Zygmunt, Vies perdues – La modernité et ses exclus, Paris, Éditions Payot, 2006, p. 55.
 Linhart Danièle, Rist Barbara, Durand Estelle, Perte d’emploi, perte de soi, Paris, Ères Poche, 2009.
 Bauman Zygmunt, Le présent liquide, Seuil, Paris, 2007, p. 24.