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Why Do Marxians Seem So Alien?

August 26, 2011

Throughout history, but these days in particular, it is difficult to determine the trustworthiness of any publication, especially those with any political content.  But like many things that exist on the fringe of the mainstream, even dubious publications can prove useful by injecting facts, ideas and opinions into the mainstream for more widespread consideration.  However, the fact that you or society finds a  publication that  voices an opinion to be questionable does not mean that the opinion is inherently unworthy of examination.  If we were to permit the authority argument to prevail, we would allow ourselves to become epistemically closed and have our opinions dangerously inbred.

So, with epistemic openness, I read an article from AlterNet entitled “8 Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance,” an article I might have incorporated into my post about why America isn’t in open revolt.  I considered its contents and decided it didn’t quite fit my own purposes, but still thought it deserved a little presentation and consideration.  So with that in mind, here are some of the finer points worthy of a more mainstream audience.

1. Student-Loan Debt. (Large debt—and the fear it creates—is a pacifying force.)

2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance.

3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy. (The nature of most classrooms, regardless of the subject matter, socializes students to be passive and directed by others, to follow orders, to take seriously the rewards and punishments of authorities, to pretend to care about things they don’t care about, and that they are impotent to affect their situation.)

4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”  (Fear [of standardized testing] forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority.)

5. Shaming Young People Who Take EducationBut Not Their SchoolingSeriously. (Despite the anti-educational impact of standard schools, children and their parents are increasingly propagandized to believe that disliking school means disliking learning.)

6. The Normalization of Surveillance. (The fear of being surveilled makes a population easier to control…young Americans have become increasingly acquiescent to corporatocracy surveillance because, beginning at a young age, surveillance is routine in their lives.)

7. Television. (Television is a dream come true for an authoritarian society: those with the most money own most of what people see; fear-based television programming makes people more afraid and distrustful of one another, which is good for the ruling elite who depend on a “divide and conquer” strategy)

8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism. (A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulativeness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements. Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements.)

Do I agree with all of these points?  Not totally.  But am I convinced that these forces, amongst others, have a cumulative effect on America’s population that makes serious contemplation of any other form or arrangement of power seem impossible?  Yes.  And that may be the most terrifying definition of power possible.

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