This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fascism or Freedom? (part 1)

Man is merely a cog in the vast machine of distribution
             Erich Fromm
             Fear of Freedom (1)


     Humanity has reached a critical point in history in which the choice between a blind submission to the status quo or a turn towards a utopian future will be made. At question is the concept of self-regulation and how it could best be put to praxis. The issue is whether society can work together as one with each citizen acting as a subject rather than as an object. If self-growth continues to be subverted by the interests of the machine, then hatred will fester and love will die.

     Some would like us to believe that fascism was a fluke that has run dry, that Hitler, Stalin, and the like were evil monsters who individually almost derailed the great progress of reason and civilisation. That fascism cannot be reduced to the antics of single men alludes to the fact that it is the psychology of the masses that forms the bedrock of totalitarian governments.

     It is also in these masses that the solution must lie. For until there is a radical transformation in the educational process, that is according to Paulo Freire, until the potential intellectual in each of us is allowed to develop, the majority will continue to live as automatons. They will continue to accept things as they are, and since such an attitude allows others to manipulate the decision process in an easier way, feelings of insignificance and alienation will continue to breed. Consequently, those in power will tighten the ideological chains of unrestrained, economic competition until all the poets and bohemians have perished. The alternative is to create the world anew, without tension and filled with loving, working, spontaneous, and organic human beings. The choice is ours.

Pedagogy as a Means to Oppression

     The point of departure for this essay will be the effect that educational pedagogy has on an individual's self-growth. One of the main tools utilised by the state to manipulate a passive mass culture is education. Students are programmed from early on to think that knowledge comes from outside sources rather than from within. Instead of emphasizing the individual's own contingent background and culture, many educators decide to focus on their own substantial accumulation of various and at times trivial information. This serves the status quo since critical awareness is replaced with a pedantic, authoritarian leaning. In reference to dialogue in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire says,

          ... since dialogue is the encounter in which the united reflection and action
          of the dialoguers are addressed to the world which is to be transformed and
          humanized, this dialogue cannot be reduced to the act of one person's
          "depositing" ideas in another. Nor can it become a simple exchange of ideas
          to be "consumed" by the discussants. (2)

     Whenever education is reduced to a transaction between what the teachers know and what the students don't know, the probability of attaining real knowledge is low. This banking concept creates a mythology of knowledge, that there are only a few who can be members of the intellectual elite. An individual teacher's greatest ability is her/his ability to inspire the children to being creative. With banking education that ability is distorted into a commodity which fuses the educational process to the status quo.

     While the students learn to be passive in front of lecturers pumping information petrol into them, the world around them continues to become even more limiting and centralised. Conglomerates who buy up land and people send a clear message to the schools that their function is right and essential to the growth of the nation. While elsewhere in the corridors of the school, the pledge of allegiance can be heard. As the television rings out the last drip of creativity in the fragile eggshell mind of the child, Guinness and John Player Blue cigarettes pacify the older, presumably wiser grown-ups.

     Everything around us becomes simplified, as the amount of money in your pocket each morning directly reflects your bargaining power and the quality of the day ahead. And while educators could become catalysts for the multiplication of critical thinkers, instead most contribute to the deadening of young minds. Consequently, naive thinkers who wish only to behave in so-called normal ways exist in such great numbers, that a mob mentality allowing for no one creative nor different has fully germinated. The only apparent option for those perceiving this situation - those who feel powerless to speak out against it or transform its anti-dialogical nature - is disillusionment.

     The difference between humans and animals is that the former modify the world to humanise it and to become more. Animals, on the other hand, adapt to the world in order to survive. Beavers do produce dams and ants do have a complex work system. However, humans first construct their structure through cognition before putting it into practice. Animals, unlike people, do not separate themselves from their work. People do and they also reflect upon their work. Since humans have a history, they consequently have the responsibility to understand it and learn how to transform it.

     Paulo Freire is not just interested in literacy, but most importantly in how to combine the understanding of words with an equal quality of awareness as to how words shape our behaviour. If words are believed to be property of only a few, then praxis will only derive from the minds of those few. If theory without praxis can be said to be meaningless, then it follows that praxis not flowing from the individual's contingent being will also be unsatisfactory.

     Self-regulation means that each person working with an eye on their own self-growth and awareness contributes in their own uniqueness to the whole. Children told how to think and what to think obviously won't be able to transform the Earth into a peaceful one. As they grow older, their faith in the status quo will strengthen, since to deny this order after years of being told that 'this is how things are' - well, simply put, this would devastate that person.

     In teaching literacy, Paulo Freire suggests that students not only learn words but also place them in the context of their own lives. Primers cannot aid this process because they are too simple and place words in meaningless situations. Simplistic phrases like 'the bird's wing' will not help anyone to perceive their own life system. On the other hand, when words such as slum, family, and state are critically investigated, the semantic relationship between the word and its significance is established.

     If humanity is to transcend its 'culture of silence,' it must change education so that it serves students who are also knowing subjects. According to Freire, 'conscientization'

          ... refers to learning to perceive social, political, and economic
          contradictions, and to take action against the oppressive elements
          of reality. (3)

    Primers cannot help anyone reach a higher consciousness because they emphasise too much the actual memorisation of words over how they can convey what life truly means and could become.

    In part two of this introspection into the roots of fascism, we'll look into the work of Alice Miller and her concept of poisonous pedagogy.


keepingitreal1 said...

Have followed your blog for some time now, always a pleasure to read your posts. This makes interesting reading (yes, have read the other parts too!). The more you read into this, the more one wants to know-good to have the references. Have you considered publishing/ becoming an author? I think you write well! Anyway, keep up the great work. I see blogging can be great!

socrates said...

That's very kind of you, I'm humbled.

I have thought quite often of being a writer, actually since the age of five.

I have no ambition to get published nor any to keep cyber sleuthing. I do like what I came up with since doing this for a lot of hours since 2006.

I feel vindicated. I've been talking about a rigged internet the whole way. Though the Snowden documents seem to be covered up. I wouldn't mind going to the actual documents and taking more screenshots and get that info out.

I am not sure how the latest disclosures haven't shaken up the internet. Instead of there being some form of viral explosion for enlightenment and wow moments, it devolved into a marketing war between two sets of deep pocketed money and "progressive" internet journalists (i.e. capitalists).

I see no rush in any of my personal endeavours. The way we the people have gone about it with the emergence of the internet, for lack of a better word, failed. We must change strategies.

I think the best we can do is leave info for newbies and fence-sitters and for future newbies and fence-sitters.

Like the guy who stood in front of the Chinese tank. He couldn't destroy the tank. He couldn't change it into a big statue of a flower. All he could do was make a symbolic gesture of, not on my watch!

The internet consists of mostly propaganda, honeypot, and innocuous capitalism. It is not humanistic. It is a tank like never built before.

Something is going on and has been seen the new millennium commenced. But most cannot see it. Or they don't want to look. It would shatter their identity. Most people can't handle the truth.

keepingitreal1 said...

I joined the "net" three years ago. I really thought it was a good thing. I thought joining "social media" was indeed my way of trying to help in some small way. You have exposed real truths out there, that many do not comprehend, or like you say in a way: "choose to ignore" I am not sure about it all anymore, call it being naive. I agree there is so much propaganda out there. One has to be careful with what one reads and shares. Someone was arguing with me the other week about "sandy hook". another story, they were telling me it was a cover up and all lies? We can only do small things to change. I believe you have. Yes, we must hope that future generations will look at this and heed. I look at what they are teaching in schools, how they are educated here. I wonder what will become of them following "education". I am not sure of many things anymore, but things do have to change.
who can do that? One voice cries out in the wilderness and cries out "enough" I guess I am always on the side of optimism, I have to be, or else I will despair. The truth will come out (like you mentioned Snowdon case). I grow tired of social media, you are right, I suspect it will not be long before I leave. I wish you well!

socrates said...

Jurgen Habermas from the Frankfurt School said the internet has potential for being a steering device for positive social change.

I figure that is what each of us feels when we first come across it, when it first starts to take up a lot of our time.

Like wow, "they" won't be able to control this like they do television, newspapers, and schools.

The Snowden documents are mostly being ignored. Not all of them are, but the ones proving the internet is infested with Spy Factory sock puppet games is getting next to no play.

That way they are able to make it seem this has all been about stopping terrorism.

How else could Big Brother rationalise what has been done to democracy through their activities?

So now anyone interested will be brought to websites like ones with dumbass Sandy Hook theories or Alex Jones, that kind of stuff.

It then becomes easier to go with the default version, as provided by The Guardian and Washington Post, to name the two biggies, that while the M.I.C. has certainly overstepped legal boundaries, their intent is to stop terrorism.

Not one terrorist attack has been thwarted. Their real intent is to have total control over everything that is transferred electronically.

This has been going on for a long time, well before the internet truly took off. I think Echelon is stationed in England.

I have no doubts "they" are all inside our activities, as they are with every journalist, the courts, politicians, you name the person and they are reading and listening to everything.

And they are also on the internet and molesting content right down to individual bloggers.


When that good stuff finally emerged, that latest stuff about working disinfo into all of the internet, that's about when Greenwald went to The Intercept. I think it might have been his first or second article written at that libertarian, investigatory start-up. The Guardian appears finished for giving the Snowden documents proper exposure.

When they can't circumscribe something as kooky, that's when it is swept under the carpet and forced to internet backwaters not many see. And most do not respect or trust those backwaters. They trusted The Guardian.

I think we're screwed. The only thing I take from all this is that there is a deep conspiracy after all. Until the Military and spy apparatuses are shut down, we're f***ed.

I see no end in sight for any of this. There is no freedom of speech and association on the internet, so I wouldn't bet the farm on the revolution being live-blogged.

keepingitreal1 said...

I do not know what the solution is. It should be of real concern to many, but as you say, people do not know or do not want to know. I get certain "e-mails" saying "you are being spied on".. case no..whatever. I ignore it and it goes in the junk pile of life. I think if they can even take blogger sites down, free speech is certainly a worry. I was looking up countries where internet censorship is big. So China, as one example: if you wanted to look up "human rights" violations like I did, you would not get the info, what is really happening out there. There are a few positives for me from the net I guess (whoever/whatever is watching my posts). I have connected with few people, but those I did, have become the truest and honest I know. I do think even as individuals, we must try and give voice where we can. I know you are vindicated with yours and your story. I do not want to lose hope but am more mindful of what is happening. I am wondering if I had never joined the net etc etc? If a person never joined the net (like my older relations) would they be anon? but they are probably there somewhere? Well, I did, but just spending less time on it now (books and music for me anytime. I really don`t know what it will take to change things, a "revolution?"

socrates said...

One solution might be to hit the enter key for paragraph breaks. It makes it easier to read what someone posts.

They can't take down blogger sites. What they do is manipulate anyone who makes a dent into the zeitgeist.

They seem to have a lot of money and free time on their hands, this emerging police state.

The internet is a steering device for negative social change. You would be wise to not take it so seriously.

That's what I think. Reread your Burke quote that I edited from the untrue version most believe he said.

Blogging can probably make a little dent. We have to make it count or else we lose the audience's attention.

This blog right here is on its last legs from what it was. Maybe some Snowden documents will spruce it up.

keepingitreal1 said...

Ah yes, I see that using paragraphs do make for better viewing! Still getting used to this.
Thanks for the quote. I do use them a lot, but like you say they are often "misquoted".
I feel they can have impact to back up statements.
I am not sure what the future of the net will be.
Like I said, spending less time on "social media" will be better for me. guess now I am only there to send out positive messages/ support others.
There are a few good blogs out there, that do have impact. Yours has good readership from what I can see.
Everything changes. Whatever you post, is saying something.
One has to believe that we can all make a difference in some way.

The Snowdon thing! The last I read about him was when he wrote for "Liberty"
He was saying that NSA had infiltrated "activist" organisations.
I will be intrigued to see how his story pans out.
Many calls for him to be "freed"
Hope this reads better with paragraphs!

socrates said...

The Ben Franklin quote on security and liberty is another one that gets misused.

Neil Armstrong, it was a step for a human or something, somehow that one is repeated wrong.

James Cagney never said, "You dirty rat."

keepingitreal1 said...


I think I have quoted that one too, somewhere or other!

Finding original source is the best way to find them I guess.

I like researching things.

There are some really good original works available for free on kindle if one has the app!

You don`t need to buy a device, I just downloaded it. All good!