The Invisible Future in our Present (Black Existentialism Part 3)

Praxis and Capital

Black Existentialism Part 1

Black Existentialism and Fascist Erasure Part 2

Black Circle Kazimir Malevich, Black Circle [1913-1915] What does it mean to be navigating invisibility?

What did I do to be so black and blue? – Louis Armstrong

If blackness operates as a free-floating category, something decoupled from any real person up until the point that it is prescribed to or by a black subject, how then is this reconciled with a black subjectivity that is necessarily invisible within a hegemonic spectacle? The black body and the black subject therein is a functional object, a target, of Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy’s dominant cultural notion of blackness. It is because of this power dynamic that blackness does not remain a signifier without meaning or an empty category without content. The anti-black social products of this power dynamic have been produced by social configurations that differ from the arsenal of oppression we…

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Black Existentialism and Fascist Erasure (Part 2)

Praxis and Capital

“Fascism is Capitalism in Decay.” – Vladimir Lenin

The Dual Function of Police As a Mediator of Fear

Considering how Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy is deployed amongst the general population, we must evaluate the material situation, i.e., the landscape of violence that causes people adhere to the existing order. The language and rituals we assume to be “natural” are intentionally constructed by law and enforced by a colonizing group authorized to wield forces of fear in a such a way that endorses specific behaviors under “civil society.” Each way we now relate to one another, each method of conduct we adorn in each social context is a learned strategy for survival developed and required by the colonizers of our ancestors. The state continues that legacy by preserving and strengthening the conditions of subjugation we are confronted with today.

The police state concerns itself with fear in two modalities:

  1. As an…

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Campaign for Revolution

campaignforrevolution

As the political landscape for the 2016 Presidential race begins to reveal itself, we are reminded again that democracy exists only in theory in this country. With a long list of American plutocrats, the presidential nominee list reads like an unredacted CIA torture report. Yes, American citizens will have a chance in November to vote for either new money or old money but either way money always wins. Let’s not kid ourselves, America has always been run by the oligarchs. Although the fact that we may yet again have another Bush or Clinton in the Whitehouse, the idea of only a few families running the country is as American as the Rockefellers and the Roosevelts. Don’t let the headlines and the righteous indignation from the left fool you  – we are not in jeopardy of losing our democracy, we never had it.

So instead of picking which millionaire or billionaire…

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Black Existentialism (Part 1)

Praxis and Capital

Blackness and Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy

“That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom i come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality” -Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

It is impossible to underestimate how saturated the concept of “blackness” is in Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, a term that accurately describes the multiplicity of forces that affect and shape the social environment today. Imperialism is the advanced colonial capacity of governments to exploit people and diasporas, demanding assimilation to a global economic system and deference to military authority. White Supremacy is the racist power dynamic that ideologically, institutionally, and economically values white lives above black, brown, and other non-white people to build, protect, and further strengthen the power and privileges of white people. Under…

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The Power Dynamics of Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy in the Workplace

There are a number of consequences which result from the gender diversity within a particular workplace. Given that the structure of work under capitalism is hierarchical, incentivizing competition and obedience, each individual’s perception and categorization of gender is affected by this dynamic. For example, men, who accept the bourgeois conditions of production, work for the opportunity to become recognized by management and possibly become rewarded as “proper” labourers. This meager reward appears in the capitalist labor market in the form of raises or authoritative hierarchical power (becoming a manager). The disbursement of such rewards simultaneously masks and obscures the expropriation of labor that allows the owner of any workplace to accumulate a profit. Profit in this sense represents the capital (money) the bosses have after paying wages and the costs of maintaining the workplace. For The male laborer, located within bourgeois ideology, he sees himself as valuable only on the terms of his paycheck and his ability to acquire commodities in addition to objects (or subjects) of his desire. The central orientation this promulgates is one of competitive violence.

When men heavily outnumber women in the workplace this apparently invites casual chauvinism and the acute development of pecking orders where men look to each other in an effort to establish rank by degradation, marginalization, gender policing and the like. Self identifying men see the attributes of their coworkers, not just in the same lens as their managers, but also within binary gender relationships. Men, in this way, adjust their behavior based on the apparent expectations of their gender in a heteronormative society. This enables them to acquire social privilege to be later exchanged with both men and women–men mask their emotions and compete around men, while they shape themselves in the image of a “gentleman” around women where they are not explicitly soliciting heterosexual activity.

Each coworker becomes a collection of characteristics which are readily categorized within a masculine/feminine grid. What does this mean in everyday life and how does this happen? Well, from birth, humans are socialized within a culture that precedes their existence. Parents, having also come from a lifetime of socialization within a patriarchal culture come to receive the gender roles their parents prescribed to them. By prescription, I mean that parents have an idea of what the physical body of their child “means” and they keep this preconceived notion within them as they observe the behaviors of their child who truly knows nothing about what will be expected of them in the future. Through both the use of positive and negative encouragement and affirmation, a human learns what behaviors cause them the least amount of stress or social resistance from other people. Within this dynamic relationship of social forces, gender identity becomes solidified.

For people who are unaware of this aspect of power, they come to accept the public image of gender as the universal standard and, subsequently, assimilate. In this way, people protecting their personal interests and well-being within a society–a society that is inherently hostile and damaging to the body– submit to an authority that is so widespread it becomes functionally invisible.

This is admittedly a very abstract way of looking at this dynamic. In everyday life, these dynamics reveal themselves in real-time interactions as emotional appraisals of social stimuli. People behave a certain way and that causes other people to react and feel a certain way; this process repeats for the duration of a social encounter. As social creatures, we naturally look for information or feedback from other human beings: we look for facial cues, notice body language, respond to language and tone. Taking in this information, we respond in a way that is communicable and appropriate within a given context. Yet, “appropriate” is not an attribute that exists outside of the culture which judges a behavior as such. “Appropriate” behavior is an amalgamation of a predetermined set of attributes that are attached to a conception of gender and a particular context.

For example, if a man in a hyper-masculinized workplace expressed behavior other men consider to be a feminine behavior, that man man would then become identified and alienated for this. Rather than this spontaneous reaction resulting from some inherent foul temperament in men, what is happening here is a reflection of how patriarchy constructs a male gender narrative that is so universally compulsory that men under Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy internalize and reproduce it. The problem here being that this narrative is in direct contradistinction with femininity, requiring that women are identified as an “other” containing an entirely different set of attributes for which men should be ashamed if they should catch themselves with attributes which overlap into this category. In addition to this, the construction of masculinity being somewhat arbitrary, the male identity exists as something very fragile and easily threatened, given that there is no humanizing affirmation of a healthy masculinity as such.

The idea of “narratives” which come prepackaged with a particular gender contain pieces of ideology that implicitly and explicitly police people’s identities and the hierarchical capitalist work environment serves as a petri dish for negative, apathetic, and individualist behaviors. This is especially alarming because it effectively masks the fact that people of all genders are being simultaneously exploited by the same people, despite the fact that they share the same physical space together and are potentially able to reach out to each other and build a community of solidarity.

On the other hand we have women in the workplace who are navigating an environment that is thoroughly molded and controlled by patriarchy. This is readily recognized in the income disparity between men and women in addition to sexual harassment lawsuits. More so than men, women are expected to be “professional” justifying their pay alongside men and in the eyes of management in the workplace. This “professionalism”  for women results in the expectation that women be subjected to the male gaze of coworkers (and customers for the public sphere). This is most apparent in the business practices in retail where bosses expect sales to increase because of the distribution of women in the most public positions within the company.

Here we see a very explicit transformation of female gender constructions that are intended to create a behavioral context in which the female-assigned body is consumed as a social commodity that enables gender narratives to become circulated in bourgeois culture. While people of all genders are selling their labor power which becomes expropriated by the bourgeoisie, women in particular are exploited in such away that their labor and identity are directly appropriated in the workplace. Men who reproduce their patriarchal privileges participate in and enable this duality of oppression. Thus, success for men in this thoroughly hostile environment is essentially a cleanly paved road for men to achieve. This is in contradistinction to women who must traverse a highly abusive gauntlet of social expectations.

What then of the people who possess attributes that challenge or are incongruous with dominant gender narratives? Again, women here suffer the most consequences. The social hierarchy within capitalism, being dominated by men who are consistently reproducing patriarchal hostility, deliberately frames the public discourse on gender equity as an entitlement to the existing structures of capitalism. This is instead of the exploration of women’s liberation as a potentiality that exists outside of the realm and capacity of Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy. Women, most times working alongside men out of necessity, then navigate this atmosphere of alienation, and otherness imposed upon them as they become gendered and then restrained by a normalized limitation on personality and behavior.

The significance of the discrepancy of gender discrimination is important because it uncovers several functions of oppressive power. By positioning the topic of Women’s equity in relation to the successes of men, we see, from the inception of this discourse, that power has framed women’s equality in direct relation to the status of men in a male-dominated society. This itself is contradictory and negates the possibility of affirming different social categories of communal productivity outside of those roles prescribed by and rewarded with currency under Capitalism. The accomplishment of power here is both repressive and suggestive. It is repressive in the way that it disenfranchizes women from accessing social necessities and bourgeois luxuries. It is also suggestive where it encourages women to assimilate to the valued and privileged roles that enable men to enjoy privilege and power that is inflicted upon human identity. In this way, patriarchal power makes itself entitled to women as a specific category denoted by a predetermined social role and capacity; a serving object of desire and a positive proof of the male subject.

To the extent that women succeed in a male-dominated work environment, they are also attacked, ridiculed, and marginalized despite their competency and demonstration of skill. In direct competition with men, chauvinist scrutiny is evoked in an attempt to justify disrespect that may negate the deference women deserve from other authoritative positions of management or status so that men might protect the complete totality of social privileges they enjoy in society. We see an abundance of this phenomenon in the media spectacle. This expression of oppressive power is especially dangerous because it becomes an expression of gender, insofar as there are alleged expectations of reward for assimilation to problematic social roles.

The interplay of these dynamics necessitates that the discourse on gender equity be positioned outside of the context of bourgeois success and aspiration, rather, it should be located within intenationalized spaces where women can openly speak about their conditions and reformulate the capacities in which we can dismantle patriarchal power and begin cultivating humanizing identities that can affirm and encourage our existence, our talents, and our dreams of self-actualization. The critical step in this direction is taking the time to reflect and deconstruct the extent to which our daily motivations under Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy are subverted and affected by oppressive power. We must learn how to reclaim our agency in the world from a thoroughly commodified heteronormative culture that intends to keep us in an eternally deprived state so that we feel compelled to consume and aspire to become a fetishized form of ourselves. This task demands that we assign primacy to radical self-love and begin the work of building ourselves, rather than working to make ourselves “worthy” of capital in the eyes of an unforgiving and apathetic ruling class.

Thoughts on the Zimmerman Verdict Protests

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What is the nature of spontaneous protest and outrage?

Does it inevitably entail appeals to the state wherever there is not symbolic destruction of property?

I recognize how this might lend itself to vanguardism but that strategy seems disconnected and separate from the sentiments of oppressed communities.

The trotskyists would say such movements are unproductive and necessarily reformist unless they involve the direct power of the working class, but then the ability of the working class to spontaneously respond in solidarity to such actions seems unrealistic given the state of unions bureaucrat politics

what then is there left?

Theoretically I imagine an organization of leftists trained to react to spontaneous actions, focused on the safety and protection of the group regardless of the nature of the action as it develops. Keeping the lines of communication open within the group would be absolutely necessary. Such an organization would also have to be armed with sharp polemics aimed at reformists, apologists, and the state.

As I see it, I anticipate non-profits and community “leaders” apologizing for those people engaged in direct action and herding the outraged many into reformist actions and appeals to the state for justice. Granted, such a movement likely is not necessarily revolutionary in the sense that it grows to a point where control over community resources is contested by the oppressed and working class people, however, this does not mean that such a movement of people should be abandoned nor does it mean we should march blindly into actions or collaborate with the allies of the state.

Revolutionary intervention is still possible without the imposition of party politics and recruitment tactics.

Villains Among Us

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  • (I know its been a while since my last neuropolitics post. I have been studying and preparing for my next piece on Race, Gender, and Identity. However, I would like to claim this space to post some of my thoughts following the George Zimmerman Verdict. While it is obvious that this is unfortunate evidence of the racism in this country, it remains unclear how or what action could have been taken that would have qualitatively improved Martin’s family or conditions for black people in America as a group within the confines of the racist institutions of power. With all of this in mind, I attempted to name my feelings and perceptions about the reactionary tide that enabled Zimmerman to be found not guilty as well as the pain, sadness, frustration, and anger black people, POC, and allies have been expressing.)

Some Thoughts On the Struggle For Human Empathy Following the Verdict

Living in a society ruled by white privilege, institutional racism, economic exploitation, violent state repression, ideological illusions perpetuated by media, apathetic hate, the manifestations of oppression become almost too many to name.

Yet, we live these lives in this environment, constantly navigating the matrices of punishment and reward within a social system that favors wealth and exploitation. So we name these oppressive realities with our very existence.

As people become blinded by apathy to the human suffering that surrounds and engulfs this system of racist world imperialism, they choose to perpetuate and negate our experiences within a decaying system. They attempt to mute our voices with their hatred and fear.

At bottom, they fear such a reality in which their petty illusions of social mobility and privilege amount to a life that is but an insignificant  and grave indication of how emotionally destructive their identities have become as they have perpetuated narratives selfishness and vanity.

They fear that the quality of their lives is merely an indication of how many people’s deep suffering they have chosen to tolerate and accept in exchange for societal luxuries, psychological reassurance, and emotional stability. Rather than acknowledge the consequences of simply being born into a society in which there are castes and classes, oppressors and oppressed, workers and bosses, (all built upon bloody and racist histories) privileged people instead decide to fuel the thoroughgoing poisonous apathetic hatred that fuels racism.

Those people who have chosen racist apathy in the face the struggle against crushing institutional systems of oppression have also chosen the historical tides of brutal fascism and hatred in favor of egalitarian progress.

These people are villains walking among us.

For A Determinist Theory of Praxis! Part 4: Advancing the Struggle Against Oppression

Uncovering the Causes of Oppression

A common misconception that arises when discussing the duties of the government in discussing what exactly oppression by a government looks like. I would argue that is largely the case because people tend not to consider the capitalist manner in which production is executed as the main cause of social friction between classes and the individuals that make up a class. This is not so surprising in a political climate in which political issues and political oppression are framed such that they can only emanate from the government, rather than a particular population of citizens. In reality, it is the dominant class in any given society that, by employing the sum total of its resources, influences the decisions of people who are directly affected by capital which circulates within a capitalist economy—industry, wages, salaries, media, lobbyists, and the like.

Instead of a cultural orientation focused upon the people who are employed by resources that are responsible for much of our socialization, bourgeois culture permeates both “sides” of reformist politics while also glorifying and justifying the position of the ruling class. Reformism as an ideology bases itself upon the supposition that the existing socio-economic system is not necessarily at fault for the social misgivings people of various political backgrounds have. Rather, the blame falls upon the government’s faulty methods of implementing the socio-economic system such that all political currents are content. Simply put, reformism believes capitalism is the best path towards liberation (or perhaps is the only option worth considering) and as such it deserves the people’s faith in capitalist governments. This is reinforced through voting rights that are afforded to people who truly believe that the political government represents a citizen’s most effective tool in effecting political change. Regulation or deregulation, privatization or socialization, these are common poles in this political environment. Such is the substance of the restriction of spontaneous and autonomous development in our political landscape.

Hierarchy, Class, and the Fight For Workers Democracy

Class-reductionists who maintain that all expressions of oppression are the direct cause of class, instead of critically evaluating how class generates oppression in addition to other negative social variables that manifest in societal constructions such as race and gender, create an extreme where the struggle between classes is the only relevant struggle in achieving humanizing liberation. This is not a proper orientation.

Despite the negligence and obsession of others around the issue of capitalist exploitation, it nevertheless remains integral to understanding, the causes of economic oppression. If we are to accept the premise that the economic climate of a given society inherently has social consequences, be they positive or negative, we must also accept the responsibility of critically evaluating our own economic system in order to effectively create a social environment driven by a morality which is truly humanizing. This includes how people acquire their wages, how productive industry is run, how commodities are produced, and how profit is accumulated. Posed generally, wherever capital is involved, class exploitation is involved.

If we are to evaluate the inner-workings of capitalism, at once we must consider the division of labor and the consequences of its hierarchical manifestation. In a society where we are continually compelled towards acquiring a wage under capitalism, we are only left with options for employment that simultaneously aid the ruling class in accumulating more capital. In order for profit to be extracted from both labor and the sale of commodities (which have been produced at a cost less than its price on the marketplace) there must be a population of people who are lacking in a plethora of resources; the industrial resources to produce one’s own commodities, wages which are used to purchase commodities, and commodities which enable a comfortable lifestyle. These conditions necessitate a division represented by the existence of classes as well as a division within the classes represented by the plethora of occupations that earn capital in the form of income. If we are to identify the interests of both classes, at once it becomes apparent that they are irreconcilable. One class requires the exploitation of another, and the other class continually struggles for better conditions despite the fact that these demands inherently reduce the rate of profit. It is this fundamental contradiction between interests that necessitates the existence of a state which sees to it that one class’ interests are given priority over the other, thus allowing it to rule. If it were not for the existence of the state, how many labor disputes would go un-repressed? How many protests would succeed in achieving their demands?  How many people would remain in their homes in the face of their landlord’s eviction notices? There is much fear mongering that is infused in capitalist culture that frames the state as neutral, protecting both parties. Despite this, the state is far more effective at ruling a population implicitly through the threat of violence rather than the actual use. Much of the social decisions we make daily are almost entirely constructed by our implicit understanding of social consequences rather than being reflections of our own individual morality, free will, and ability to problem solve.

The mere division of labor by location, occupation, and income in both small and large scales impedes the working people’s ability to dialogue with each other effectively regarding their rights, their work, and their desire for liberation. Rather, it necessitates exchanges in which workers share their hardships locally and globally. The digital mediums of our technological epoch provide some catharsis around these sentiments in which people can display their sympathy. At the same time, workers are given few if any tools with which they can utilize their agency and power in order to sculpt their workplace to their liking. As a substitute there are merely public forums and organizations to which workers may file their grievances to little or no avail.

Work should be a thoroughly communal and democratic process rather than a system of authority and command. Workers should be able to choose the manner in which they are organized. Who better to decide on how work should be executed than those who work? As part of this working people’s democracy, a humanizing income should be one that is voted upon. By this I do not mean that a handful of options are preselected and presented before the working class to select and accept, I mean that workers should be able to itemize each of their wants and needs so that they may pool them together as a community and see to it that these resources are provided by communicating with all workers who have a direct influence on their communities. This is not a one-way street where workers demand and are sated; it is a constant process of communication and feedback with all workers. In laboring, workers provide for other workers based upon the resources of their working institutions. In a true democracy workers can truly work for themselves, rather than for an employer who directly or indirectly expropriates the product of their labor. Unity between workers means unity between all spheres of production, creating a global social system of horizontal socialism where workers control what is produced. The viability of universal healthcare, free housing, free food, and a free educational system becomes more apparent in this societal context steeped in solidarity and hands-on democracy.

The Consequences of Hierarchy and Competition

The alternative to such a humanizing movement is the explicit or implicit decision to compete with one’s fellow workers within the rungs of capitalistic class division. It is the decision to accept no-strike clauses without question. It is the decision to “outperform” your coworkers for a chance to become promoted. It is the decision to accept your wage as it is. Embedded in this orientation is the expectation that assimilation will be rewarded with privilege.

Working hours and pay set as they have been under capitalism robs workers of their free time. This is so deep in capitalist working discipline that those who somehow find free time away from their paid and unpaid work, curiously feel “lazy.” This is so internalized that workers find themselves condemning and criticizing people in their communities with the same label, originally prescribed by slave drivers. This social dynamic is the consequence of a society that fails to create structures that allow workers to freely utilize their creativity and intellect for purposes they chose for themselves. As a result, people shy away from their dreams and vocations because they do not yield capital. For many people, these uses of time are considered to be ‘unproductive.’ The ruling class through the implementation of the workweek has effectively occupied time itself. Workers find that their time no longer belongs to them. Whether this time would be spent with family, engaged in the arts, or obtaining knowledge is uncertain because of this very fact. Less idealistically speaking, this occupation of time in the context of a working class divided amongst itself working for wages, it very effectively reduces the time that workers could reasonably spend organizing as a class, conquering their prescribed division in the name of solidarity. It impedes the possibility of communal efforts that aid and assist other workers as they tackle the capitalist workweek. Such are the obstacles to worker’s democracy.

The very structure of hierarchy is such that workers’ agency is removed. The decisions they are allowed to make exist only in choosing between existing jobs. After employment, however, obedience to the hierarchical system of authority is all that is expected of an employed worker. Under capitalist hierarchy, managers and bosses are absolved from creating forums in which they can be held accountable by the employed. They do not feel any responsibility for investigating and bringing to fruition the interests of anyone but their own superiors. In addition, their position in the workplace is entirely undemocratic. In many ways these middle men and women in the workplace represent a modern version of overseers from the previous historical form of slavery, seeing to it that the appropriate amount of work is done in order that his or her superior may expropriate a sufficient amount of value from the workers. The only concession workers receive in this hierarchical system of exploitation is perhaps an occasional “meeting” where workers are lectured to by their manager and may ask questions about what has already been decided.

These conditions, having become normal in capitalist culture, bar the possibility of effective dialogue and democracy within the workplace. Work meetings aside, transparency for the public and for workers is completely abandoned. The state protects the right of capitalists not to share their information with anyone outside of the people who share a common interest in the “success” of their companies. As the pyramid grows taller and taller workers turn their eyes upward noting all of the “opportunities” to climb the business ladder. The illusion of ascending into the ruling class becomes more real by the very fact that they have submitted to their employer, coming to envy their bosses and managers as a result. Such is the kindle that allows competition in the workplace to ignite.

As a result of this extensive social system of labor exploitation a cultural assumption emerges which projects an intrinsic superiority onto the people who are “higher up” in the hierarchical chain of command. Granted, different skills are expected of people in these particular positions, but this does not grant one person the right to command another human being without accountability. By justifying a persons privilege and authority over other people, we ignore the circumstances that come to create a scarcity in skills and knowledge that are oftentimes glorified and rewarded with higher pay than duties of “unskilled labor.” Embodied in this negative social dynamic is the separation of “intellectual” labor from physical labor, which aims to justify the socially constructed inequity between the two. This separation makes able the devaluation of physical labor in favor of intellectual labor, all the while ignoring the necessity of both. Here another type of privilege is created wherein intellectual laborers are absolved entirely of the taxing nature of physical labor and awarded higher pay than the latter. This economic condition of employment makes the division of labor more extreme. It fosters yet more insensitivity towards a population of people that makes up the majority of the human population on this earth in order to justify privilege and the exploitation of “unskilled” laborers. A workers democracy in this case would aim to evenly distribute people’s abilities, of which they would be more apparent and plentiful in a society where the educational system is fully accessible at no cost to its students.

Outside the workplace we find social expressions, reproduced by the cultural environment created by capitalism, which embody authority, status, and privilege. Curious that these expressions do not make explicit the sources of power from which they draw, rather they simply exalt the privileged as being inherently worthy of their positions in society. The other side of this orientation, of course, is that people who do not share in their economic and social wealth deserve the conditions of their current position in society.  Here is a feat of human creativity where the narrative functions of the mind, ignoring the vast amount of social machinations that make lifestyles of privilege and wealth plausible, instead decides that they must be a demi-god, as a recipient of authority, status, and privilege.

The Role of Privilege in Establishing Complacency

Considering the historical momentum of societies based upon male supremacy over women, it is not surprising that capitalism, developing directly from this history, has inherited male chauvinism. A major consequence of this fact is the prescription of unpaid social labor to women. The ruling class, in the interests of keeping up the rate of profit, has deliberately failed in establishing a community based system in which workers may receive compensation for all forms of labor and they have failed in creating public spaces where necessary human services are organized and provided for free. The consequence of this in a society ruled by patriarchy is that women are expected to take up this work. This expectation is reproduced culturally because it “protects” the bourgeoisie from the financial problem of funding and building an infrastructure that might accomplish the same communal purpose that women do by patriarchal prescription: the upbringing of new generations of socially competent workers. It is precisely in placing this social burden of responsibility upon women that the bourgeoisie (as an emergent property of a hierarchically organized system of profit-making and appropriations of wealth rather than a few malicious individuals) neglects the social development of exploited workers, thus allowing the promulgation of male chauvinism within the minds of the oppressed.

The cultural product of these social factors is the capitalistic conception of the “family,” functioning as the productive unit of capitalism. Each unit is individually responsible for raising a member of the next generation of laborers in addition to producing wealth for those higher up in the capitalist hierarchy. In a society that rests upon patriarchy, it stands to reason that patriarchy finds its way into the sexual behaviors of its citizens. As a direct result of the capitalistic family model, men and women project implicit agreements about sexual relations. Both parties involved in consenting sex find themselves wondering, “who belongs to who?” wrestling for power and domination over the other’s sexual behavior by agreeing to socially acceptable sexual contracts in which one’s sexual freedom is sacrificed as a safeguard against insecurity around individual feelings of self worth and economic security. It is for this reason that individual social agreements about sexuality that challenge the standard capitalistic/patriarchal conception of family—queer, trans, bi-sexual, non-gender binary—are repressed and shunned by dominant bourgeois culture. The same holds true for women’s reproductive rights. Threatened here is the patriarchal relationship between men and women wherein men hold the final say regarding the family as a unit and the woman’s body. Women having the right and means to exercise sexual freedom and the final say about their own reproductive organs stands in direct contradiction to patriarchal conceptions of the family unit. The ownership of property forms is directly challenged by the obscured paternity that is the feared result of women’s reproductive and sexual freedom.

The patriarchal conception of sexual interaction between genders creates a situation in which any person willing to assimilate to their particular culture’s manifestation of gender is rewarded with social capital, i.e. male-privilege. This male privilege is expressed through access to institutions and resources dominated and controlled by men. However, in the sphere of genuine social interaction, there remains an unspoken social contradiction that generates conflicts between genders. You find men, expecting male privilege, resentful of anyone who challenges this “right”. In fact, most men are threatened by the idea of true gender equality if it means women obtaining supreme authority and autonomy over their own bodies. Men feel they have a right to possess their sexual counterpart when it comes to sex. The incentive for women to adhere to this male chauvinist conception is social asylum from “slut shaming.”

The fact that behaviors that reinforce privilege are supported by the structures of society means that patriarchal/hierarchical behavior is rewarded with yet more privilege in addition to economic privilege. This also means that those who belong to the “counter culture” consisting of those individuals who are discontent with the social norms as prescribed by the oppressors of a given society are discouraged, alienated, and dehumanized by the culture of privilege.

In addition to class and gender based exploitation, there exists racial oppression/exploitation based upon false categories/stereotypes which aim to justify insensitivity towards very real socioeconomic conditions which are a direct historical property of the existence of Capitalism. Racism itself, being a product of these conditions, compounds the issue making insensitivity towards racist oppression all the more dangerous. Race based privilege is given to groups of people who do not belong to a particular race that is oppressed institutionally, economically, culturally, and socially. There is much controversy about whether or not people of color can be “racist” against white persons of privilege. This misunderstanding proves convenient for privileged people who have not lived through racism expressed through its institutional, economic, cultural, and social manifestations. It represents a willingness to reduce oppression by race to a matter of becoming “offended” or made “uncomfortable.” This however, proves to be irrelevant when one considers life experience. Indeed, if a person lives a life within a society that rewards them with privilege, any social stimulus that challenges or threatens an otherwise consistent source of reward would indeed make an individual “uncomfortable.” However, hearing an offensive statement does not necessarily make one a victim of racism, although it does perhaps reflect the existence of racism on a much larger scale. Rather, these individual instances of offense are evidence of the power of racism to permeate social interaction. Unfortunately, racist beliefs are internalized by oppressed groups and then expressed to the dismay of other oppressed races. At the same time it must be noted that white privilege, as it is supported and reinforced by capitalistic institutions that are thoroughly steeped in colonialist culture, is the product of these social conditions. It cannot be said that oppressed people of color are rewarded privilege over white people in a society dominated by racism. Historical efforts to undercut institutional racism such as affirmative action have been cited as instances of “reverse racism,” however this is an irrelevant perception because it was an attempt to address the major segregation established by capitalist institutions. However, it is important to note that no reform to capitalist institutions can adequately and wholly address the many sources of oppression that stem from capitalism itself. Perhaps more importantly, any effort that aims to undercut the oppressive nature of racism and discrimination should be supported. Rather, through solidarity, people should fight for more extensions of rights.

Because of the idealistic nature of capitalist aspirations, we find cultural/institutional rewards for those who harbor oppressive justifications of racist attitudes and behaviors, manifesting itself in yet another form of privilege. This perhaps may be referred to as political or reactionary privilege. The attractive nature of capitalistic reward overpowers commonsense sympathy for the oppressed—apathy for workers who strike for better conditions, egotistical rationalizations of wage based discrimination, alleged political neutrality where victims of racism or sexism ask for allies and assistance against white male supremacy, social affirmation of racist attitudes contained in dominant bourgeois culture as expressed through the media, and security in the illusion of immunity from racial discrimination.

This apathy towards oppression is fermented by racist and sexist stereotypes and is actively reinforced in the media, which serves to divide oppressed people with an otherwise common interest in working class empowerment in an environment in which there is an absence of a group which truly champions the rights of the oppressed in the face of racial, gender, economic, institutional, and colonial oppression. Here we find that fear is utilized against those with or without white male privilege where people with white privilege are afraid of losing it, and those without white male privilege fear racist backlashes against their humanizing causes.

National chauvinism and patriotism are immediate threats to internationalism as praxis. Narrowly focusing on the conditions of the nation, persons searching for privilege identify the conditions under which they will become unsympathetic towards the conditions of workers and oppressed people worldwide. This attitude is inappropriate especially in the context of global imperialism because it necessitates even poorer conditions of labor that make possible a globalist economy based upon capitalist exploitation for profit. It is not enough to have “decent” conditions within the borders of one country. Indeed, the existence of national borders requires a state that will “defend” its borders against “illegal” persons. Such a mentality is incongruous with an internationalist orientation towards oppressed people.

It is idealism, the belief in the immaterial, as a worldview and orientation towards reality, which is unchecked by society at large precisely because it does not affect nor describe the true state of affairs that exist among the classes and other forces of oppression under capitalism. The bourgeoisie, particularly those who most closely represent the interests of the privatized media, expend a great portion of its resources on the creation of false perspectives and reactionary ideologies that are incongruous with the existence of class struggle and exploitation. Thus we also find ideologies of submission and misinformation that make working class empowerment through education and communal organization inaccessible to those who have not obtained the institutional privilege of a quality education under capitalism, nor access to humanizing communities which preserve and share empowering knowledge for the oppressed. These false orientations are of the utmost importance due to the fact that they impair the ability of the working masses to isolate oppressive variables in the environment which may reveal to them the causes of inequality in addition to false narratives/perceptions which also serve to dehumanize those people who have not been afforded privilege in an oppressive system.

Because oppression is neurologically observable, it is imperative that a movement emerges that is primarily concerned with elucidating the reality of inequality by isolating the causes of our oppression and their effects on the human mind so that we may submit truths we gather for the creation of a world without exploitation. This begins by creating horizontally based organizations that are focused upon collecting, creating, and distributing critical analyses of oppressive institutions and society. In addition to this task, it must also synthesize and share strategies of empowerment, harboring a profound willingness to assist any oppressed population with all of its resources and abilities.

For A Determinist Theory Of Praxis! Part 3: How Privilege and Class Become Part of Human Socialization

Socialization and Bourgeois Institutions

“The other major group of emotions is the social emotions. The label is a bit odd, since all emotions can be social and are often so, but the label is justifiable given the unequivocal social setting of these particular phenomena. Examples of the main social emotions easily justify the label: compassion, embarrassment, shame, guilt, contempt, jealousy, envy, pride, admiration.” (Damasio)

“Nature and nurture become one during development, and the line between organic and functional has dissolved into what is now called experience-dependent plasticity. This term means that our brains are structured and restructured by interactions with our social and natural environments” (Cozolino).

“In examining the way our brains analyze rewards, Schultz stated, ‘The brain not only detects and analyzes past events, it also constructs and dynamically modifies predictions about future events on the basis of previous experience” (Schultz & Dickenson, 2000).

The educational system as it exists today, exacerbates and neglects much of the fundamental elements which produce oppression and class division by providing a sort of “rat race” for people to compete within in exchange for a promise of more privileged positions in society vis-à-vis higher pay. At the same time it is important to note that this desire for general education—the acquisition of knowledge—is itself a noble pursuit. However, such a system under capitalism necessitates competition while also limiting the information that is available to students. The result is a steadily controlled population of each class within capitalism, maintained such that wealth can be rewarded to one at the expense of the many. This is expressed through test taking, limited admissions, the existence of campus police that repress social movements on campus under the guise of protecting student safety, and the steadily rising price of tuition.

It is unfortunate that so much of this cultural grooming should occur in our formative years because that is precisely when the mind is most pliable and receptive to social stimuli that purport to teach what is necessary in the “real world,” i.e. the labor market. In the classrooms of these institutions designed for ladder climbing, the relationship between student and teacher is one-sided. This relationship is focused upon what Paulo Friere describes as the “Banking Method” of education, where teachers are superior resources of information, depositing their worthwhile knowledge of a given subject into the minds of what the system considers to be inherently ignorant students. Students, who then must retrieve (or “withdraw” to continue the metaphor) the knowledge they have accumulated over the course of their institutional education, “spending” it in order to successfully pass tests and other formalized methods of knowledge evaluation. The teacher in this situation is not necessarily to be blamed for their dehumanizing practices, rather it is the hierarchical nature of the educational institutions which have been erected by both the government and private companies who decide upon a standard of “education” to be applied universally, within the boundaries of the budgets they decide upon at the expense of the people. This restricts creativity, ingenuity, and genuine dialogue between students and teachers while also discouraging individual efforts towards self-education and empowerment.

Here we find an alienation similar that which is experienced by workers in the labor market wherein students, teachers, and campus workers who are the lifeblood of the institution at which they labor both physically and intellectually, do not make decisions which affect the nature of the institution by shaping it according to their own wills and interests. Instead there is only a shrinking population that is allowed the opportunity to assimilate and perform according to figures of authority at the top of the institutional hierarchy. If we look at the people who govern these institutions collectively we see the general interests of the bourgeoisie reflected in their decisions. This is most explicitly expressed in the context of capital, where the “budget” must be set such that more capital is gained than spent (or at least as much capital is gained as possible). When the rate of profit in the private sector or the budget of social institutions in the public sector is sufficiently low enough to motivate the gradual restriction of those allowed the profit of capital or the benefit of education, the result is the general denial of teachers’ and students’ agency as well as a decrease in access to educational institutions under capitalism. “The right to education” under class-based society really exists only as a reward for individuals with sufficient resources to endure the assimilation of their intellectual life into bourgeois academic culture in exchange for higher pay. Any institution that cannot accept and adapt to criticism and new analyses is a dead and stagnant one. In the context of emerging neurological studies on human consciousness critical re-evaluation of social institutions is all but too important:

Understandably, and with rare exceptions, the weight given to evidence coming from brain science and cognitive science has been negligible. Now there is a growing fear that evidence regarding brain function, as it becomes more widely known, may undermine the application of laws, something that legal systems have by and large avoided by not taking such evidence into account. But the response has to be nuanced. The fact that everyone capable of knowing is responsible for his actions does not mean that the neurobiology of consciousness is irrelevant to the process of justice and to the process of education charged with preparing future adults to an adaptive social existence. On the contrary, lawyers, judges, legislators, policy-makers, and educators need to acquaint themselves with the neurobiology of consciousness and decision-making. This is important to promote the writing of realistic laws and to prepare future generations for responsible control of their actions.(Damasio)

A humanizing institution of education would be universally accessible, allowing for a malleability that adapts to the democratic will and decisions of students, teachers, and campus workers. Such a campus would be adequately equipped with resources that would thoroughly sate the all of basic needs of teachers, campus workers, and students such as food, shelter, and all academic resources that facilitate learning. An institution that purports to be concerned exclusively with education must also acknowledge and remove the plight of workers, students, and teachers under class oppression. It must strive to create an educational atmosphere that bests all of its predecessors. This is a fundamental right to education. An educational movement that adopts this as their main vocation would fight to remove any obstacle to this human right:

When did this game of life become so unfair that we blame individuals rather than the circumstances that prevent them from achievement? This is known as the fundamental attribution error in human reason. When other people screw up it’s because they are stupid or losers but when I screw up it’s because of my circumstances. The self illusion makes the fundamental attribution error an easy fallacy to accept. Also, putting all the blame on the individual self is tantamount to excusing all the policies that create inequality in our society. Maybe it’s time to redress this imbalance by rethinking success or failure not so much as issues of the self alone, but more of society in general(Hood)

The institutions that make up “the media” pre-package images saturated with information about the world, creating sufficiently salient information that can then be digested by viewers, readers, and the like. Divisions of the media are concerned with providing entertainment and news about the world that surrounds us. Ostensibly, this information is objective (or is at least subjectively pleasing). However, this perspective ignores the interests of profit making capital that articulates such a system. Even assuming the validity of the information presented by media corporations does not compromise its reliability in providing information which is sufficiently useful to the oppressed; even this understanding still ignores the role that humans have in constructing the manner in which information is presented to the general public, who deliberately utilize strategies and methods which play upon human emotion and cultural knowledge. Here we have the seeds of prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination where previous experiences, be they the narrow presentation of the media or the limited interactions in an alienated society, misinform minds about real people and real situations:

These implicit predictions allow us to benefit from past learning by having them available in situations the brain deems relevant (Shultz & Dickenson, 2000). Of course, the brain isn’t always right and often misapplies past experience to present situations, resulting in prejudice, transference, and all sorts of interpersonal distortions (Cozolino).

Such is the substance of a human mind experiencing the sensory input that is provided by media. Here we find a peculiar byproduct of human nature where the same drives which allow us to become “fit” for society also make us vulnerable to emotional manipulation resulting in a type of socialization characterized by the interests of capital. As a result, we see fear and stress slowly dominating the drives we depend upon for success:

All this effort, complicated in its orchestration and costly in the amount of energy it consumes—that is why being emotional is so bloody tiring—tends to have a useful purpose, and it often does. But it may not. Fear may be nothing but a false alarm induced by a culture gone awry. In those instances, rather than saving your life, fear is an agent of stress, and stress over time destroys life, mentally and physically. The upheaval has negative consequences (Damasio).

While there are sufficient moral implications to this practice alone, there are more subtle consequences of a people that depend on these mediums of information in their day-to-day socialization. It is when a population becomes dependent on these mediums that the media becomes a sort of cultural thermometer in which people check their own internal emotions against the emotional content presented to them by the media. Here is a feedback loop in which an emotional stimulus is presented to a mind, which then judges and creates what it believes to be an appropriate belief or orientation based upon a history of experience with the subject, interpreted and checked now in real time against how the subject is being presented by a particular media company or institution.

Stated plainly, those who enjoy the privilege of commanding a hierarchical media institution (perhaps inadvertently) also decide on what is culturally “normal” or “righteous” as well as what is “abnormal” or generally “negative.” This is most easily observable in the political coverage of events that embody the human struggle towards liberation. Some concrete examples include the coverage of war, strikes, government actions, company policies, and matters that concern “human nature” as presented by the entertainment industry at large:

Under monopoly all mass culture is identical, and the lines of its artificial framework begin to show through. The people at the top are no longer so interested in concealing monopoly: as its violence becomes more open, so its power grows. Movies and radio need no longer pretend to be art. The truth that they are just business is made into an ideology in order to justify the rubbish they deliberately produce. They call themselves industries; and when their directors’ incomes are published, any doubt about the social utility of the finished products is removed”(Theodore Adorno).

This dynamic is problematic wherever the perspectives and interests of people (oppressed people in particular) are in direct contradiction with the perspectives of the media. This fundamental contradiction is produced because the people and events interpreted by the media are not truly representative of the humanizing interests of the people. The people are left with very few mediums of cultural transmission and communication that are not directly influenced or controlled by resources employed by capital, and as a result reproduce the dehumanizing notions of popular media. The consequence of this is a population of people who continually act on poisonous profit driven misinformation that forwards the interests of the oppressing bourgeois class. This is a major obstacle to international solidarity between oppressed persons in the struggle to end oppression by class; “Capitalism is to be condemned because it blunts sensitivity instead of sharpening it” (Novack & Mandel).

The state, which is a physical representation of the interests of the ruling class, poses itself as a violent obstacle to the survival of individuals who fall out of favor with the state. This relationship embodies yet another major negatively motivating stimulus in the social environment which demands assimilation to a law that is decided upon by the most privileged members of society who work in concert with the bourgeoisie. Indeed, the law as put forward by the state does much interpreting for the people. The very potential for violence is enough to thoroughly discourage any behaviors the state deems problematic, thus tainting the “illegal” behaviors in the minds of those people who do not make up the state, serving to further desensitize people to oppression at large. This is to say nothing of illegal behaviors that are a reaction to a thoroughly depraved society such as those “crimes” committed by depressed impoverished masses. Thus it follows that fear becomes the primary agent of submission within a state ruled by violence and on behalf of the ruling class. The state itself is represented by the media as benevolent, just, and trustworthy despite its active role in repressing the oppressed, further strengthening the state against its victims.

Spirituality itself presents a certain type of escape from the negative weight of oppression on human minds. For believers, it provides a free immaterial substance that strengthens the resolve of oppressed people in order to endure oppression. At the same time, spirituality poses no direct threat to the material machinations of oppression wherever it invents causes of suffering or discourages a genuine search for causal elements of oppression by substituting immaterial explanations for true humanizing knowledge. This does not include the agency of communities that have been brought together by spirituality. The actions they accomplish and have accomplished do not reflect the will of any spiritual entity, but rather the power of any group of people that has recognized an obstacle to liberation. The very expression of spirituality represents a certain degree of existential grief in the face of oppression. The result is a deluded people who have become content with an impossible dream world of righteousness and balance.

All of these environmental stimuli as presented to the human mind provide it with “value stamped stimuli,” where “value” in this case represents emotional information which is recalled and deliberated upon by the faculties of human consciousness for the purpose of making behavioral decisions in real time. Posed differently, the decisions each individual makes within a class or caste based society are thoroughly influenced by the emotional salience of money, commodities, social privilege, race, and authority. This begs the question, “what would we do if we were not socialized to take into consideration the effects of these negative, oppressive, and unfair institutions when we socialize amongst ourselves?’ Less abstractly, we can study the consequences of decisions that either reinforce or deconstruct oppression. An honest analysis of these social factors must be generally accessible to society so that its members can then make new decisions that will influence the trajectory of the evolution of humanizing revolutionary social environments.

It is important to note that many of the conclusions to be drawn from such an extensive analysis would necessarily invalidate many current cultural beliefs and rationalizations of “normal” behaviors that actually strengthen systems of oppression. Already there are many challenges to cultural suppositions, which serve as foundational landmarks for oppressive institutions that have been posed by neuroscientists critical theorists, and the genuine validity of oppressed people’s understanding of their own oppressive living situations. Within this wealth of experience and human knowledge it becomes very feasible to make conclusive statements about the consequences of reactionary (oppressive) behaviors and institutions measured against that of humanizing behaviors and actions. This is done by measuring the effects the existing societal structure has on human minds in addition to how they are manipulated in favor of the ruling class against the oppressed.

This measurement can be accomplished by studying relevant brain structures as they are employed in certain social contexts/environments in order to interpret moral or emotional data:

The evidence for nonconscious processing has increased unabated. Our economic decisions are not guided by pure rationality and are significantly influenced by powerful biases such as the aversion to losses and the delight in gains. The way we interact with others is influenced by a large array of biases having to do with gender, race, manners, accents, and attire. The setting of the interaction brings its own set of biases linked to familiarity and design. The concerns and emotions we were experiencing prior to the interaction play an important role too, as does the hour of the day: Are we hungry? Are we sated? We express or give indirect signs of preferences for human faces at lightning speed without having had time to process consciously the data that would have backed up a corresponding reasoned inference, which is all the more reason to be extra careful with important decisions in our personal and civic lives…This is all the more important if you are voting in an election or on a jury. One of the major problems faced by voters in political elections and in courtroom trials is the strength of emotional/nonconscious factors. (Damasio)

There is a great danger that arises from rejecting the need for such a communal analysis of society that is embodied within the illusion of “equal opportunity;” the belief that all members of a class based society are afforded the same opportunity to acquire a particular degree of societal privilege. Privilege, in this instance, represents the acquisition of a lifestyle wherein a person’s commodity-based desires are attainable. This privilege contents them with oppression, on a local scale as well as an international scale, on the basis that it brings individual satisfaction in the present. This privileged belief rewards those who believe in it with the abhorrent delusion that everyone who does not own an amount of capital which contents them with their present position deserves nothing more than what they have managed to earn in capitalist society. Expressed crudely, “the poor deserve to be poor and the rich deserve to be rich.” Granted, this is not always explicitly stated. The social information presented by society to the mind does not permanently remain in the forefront of people’s conscious awareness as they make social decisions, yet at the same time this data, acquired through experience, informs our emotional systems on a subconscious level in such a way that these emotional reactions to our environment sometimes reach conscious awareness if they are sufficiently salient.

In the context of oppression where we must deal squarely with other people’s hardships, people rationalize their own feelings towards the subject of oppression of any nature. Through the social network of neurons that aid us in navigating social environments, people come to a realization or conclusion that sufficiently justifies their own individual decisions. At the same time, the social brain reaches a final decision regarding the actions of other people in relation to a given instance of human suffering. Where there is conflict involving the well being of some people at the expense of others’ suffering a particular willingness to become apathetic emerges in many minds that have in their experience come into contact with reactionary ideological illusions. In this way illusions promoted by the bourgeoisie protect their own economic and social interests, while also safeguarding individual narratives of existence that people make for themselves within a capitalist society, against empathetic reactions for people who are perhaps more blatantly oppressed than others. In this process an individual becomes imbued with the sense that they have chosen the correct orientation towards the existence of capital, and for that reason they will continually be rewarded, along with every other person who behaves in the same manner. Such are the substances of privilege and illusions inspired by capital:

Our experience of the world is constructed around the notion of the isolated self, and it is from this perspective that Western science has explored the brain. Yet, even though we cherish the idea of individuality, we live with the paradox that we constantly regulate each others’ internal biological states” (DeVries et al., 2003; Hofer, 1984, 1987). [Louis Cozolino]

The consequence of this social dynamic is an apathetic population that begins to encourage more apathy while condemning empathy. Thus, liberation becomes irrelevant in a mind so affected by class-based apathy.