Defeatism is more often than not a psychological instrument designed to relieve one of the responsibility to act (if change is impossible, then I have no reason and no obligation to work or take risks for it). That is bolstered by the effort of all ruling interests to instill a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness in those they suppress; systemic power abuses are, above all else, designed to persuade people of the futility of opposition, to adopt a defeatist mindset. But it is a mindset that finds little to no support in political history.
Chagnon’s gung-ho research provides the origin story needed by the fading economic and imperialist power that is the US today. Sahlins long ago decoded this Hobbesian view as a Western peculiarity. As the War on Terror drags on, it comes as no surprise that the national academy of the most violent, warmongering state on the planet is anxious to validate narratives - such as those of Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond and Chagnon - which legitimise state control over alleged “violent savages”.
I thought reaching into the pockets of U.S. smartphone users and annoying them into drone-consciousness could be an interesting way to surface the conversation a bit more.
The true story is the history of desire. A capitalist, or today’s technocrat, does not desire in the same way as a slave merchant or official of the ancient Chinese empire would. That people in a society desire repression, both for others and *for themselves*, that there are always people who want to bug others and who have the opportunity to do so, the “right” to do so, it is this that reveals the problem of a deep link between libidinal desire and the social domain. A “disinterested” love for the oppressive machine: Nietzsche said some beautiful things about this permanent triumph of slaves, on how the embittered, the depressed and the weak, impose their mode of life upon us all.
With President Obama’s election, a clear white consensus favors ‘race neutral’ government policies – which, in practice, reject Black grievances based on past discrimination and disadvantage, and set an extremely high bar for complaints of current bias. Such dismissal of essential – and irrefutable – contemporary and historical data can only be rooted in a general white belief that African American culture is what holds Blacks back. Barack Obama either shares this white attitude, or pretends he does for political gain. His singling out of ‘irresponsible’ Black fathers and hectoring of Black parents for feeding their kids Popeye’s chicken for breakfast was a shout-out to white folks that he shared their assessment of Black ‘culture.’ His rejection of targeted economic policies that address deep disparities based on the historical and ongoing realities of race and racism (‘A rising tide lifts all boats,’ says Obama) puts him in the same ‘race neutral’ camp as Romney and the rest of the GOP – and most of the Democrats, as well. And, of course, Obama also fights for the same empire that sees its roots in the natural (or divinely ordained) rise of ‘western civilization’ – a euphemism for white people – to dominate every nook and cranny of the world, by force.
Contemporary forms of oppression do not routinely force people to submit. Instead, they manufacture consent for domination so that we lose our ability to question and thus collude in our own subordination.
I think that anthropology (and the other social sciences) are the ideological arms of sociopolitical arrangements. I use ideology here not in the narrow sense of propaganda, but in the sense of pervasive idea system making up a world view that both reflects and molds certain social arrangements. In general, scholarship reflects and molds the sociopolitical system called a university, and universities are not independent from our social order, but are paid and organized to perpetuate and legitimize it.
Whenever the need for some pretense of communication arises, those who profit from our oppression call upon us to share our knowledge with them. In other words, it is the responsibility of the oppressed to teach the oppressors their mistakes. […] This is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.
Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.
Noam Chomsky (via cultureofresistance)
Also interesting in the context of how States have moved away from providing free education over the last decade
People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does
A lived hegemony is always a process. It is not, except analytically, a system or a structure. It is a realised complex of experiences, relationships, and activities, with specific and changing pressures and limits.