False Class Consciousness


Maid in America

Although it has become in vogue to deny the existence of rich and poor and to proclaim us all "middle class", class divisions are real and the gap between rich and poor in the United States is growing at an alarming rate. Being born into a particular class, racial/ethnic group, and sex has repercussions that affect every aspect of a person's livelihood. Unfortunately this reality is masked by the illusions created by the neo-liberal idea of individuality, which supposedly allows citizens to become workers who have the potential to produce 'income' and achieve social mobility.
I believe an integral part of this documentary has been the mapping of inequality in the distribution of economic opportunity for workers/maids. One of the most difficult tasks at hand is the deconstruction of the idea that "Everyone has capital, namely his/her physical and mental capacities, everybody can invest in that and develop it." I believe there are several mechanisms that allow for the creation of such falsehood in connection with several functions of the state in the continues oppression of the potential creation of the proletariats class-consciousness. The idea that every worker in the U.S has the potential to make enough money as long as they work hard enough is a myth that is continuously perpetuated by neoliberal ideologies. One of the Maids goes in details talking about learning English, receiving her diploma as an accountant, and then finally being able to make enough money for a different lifestyle. This shows that as a worker you are simply seen as a commodity.
It is interesting to see that in a time of economic crisis, people 'blame' these crises not on capital but on the federal state, which is supposed to resolve or at least soften these crises. People with 'false consciousness' do not have the ability to see that the 'real' problem is the logic of capital and their relationship to the production of capital. This inability to see the problem with the overall system is once again rooted in the initial education of the citizens, which is controlled by the state. With this combination of state intervention and ideological control, the bourgeoisie is able to create neo-liberal descriptions of the worker that are untrue. The worker is not an enterprise that has full agency over his/her production of 'income'. This is clearly shown by the situations of most Mexican Maids that are forced to work in the U.S in order to provide a living for their households.

One of the most interesting parts in discussion that this documentary brought to light was that of remittances. It is incredible detrimental to these stories to show the importance of the sustainability of permanent jobs for most Immigrant who have family ties to their native country due to financial responsibilities. It has been estimated that Mexicans living in the United States sent a record $23.1 billion back home in 2006, putting remittances third after oil and maquiladora exports as a foreign-exchange generator for Mexico . This made me wonder how many women struggle on a day-to-day basis trying to support their families back home.

In your overall critique, there might be a shallow engagement with the issue of Global politics at times during the documentary. I wish the documentary would have talked a little more about the reasons why Mexican women have moved away from their country to find a job?

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