Tag Archives: OWS

‘Colonized’ by Corporations?

“Colonized by Corporations,” a column by Chris Hedges (Truthdig, 5/14) brings together multiple themes and concepts from the course — colonialism, decolonization, exploitation, revolution, legitimacy, violence, ideology, racism and white supremacy, to name a few.  Hedges argues that theorists of colonial rule like Frantz Fanon offer the best insights into the functioning of our own system, which he calls a “corporate state”:

“We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent.”

In order to challenge the “corporate state,” Hedges argues we must first recognize ourselves as “colonized subjects.” But, as Fanon observed in “Black Skin, White Masks,” the psychological mechanism of cognitive dissonance often inhibits such recognition:

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”

On the question of the “revolutionary potential” of different social classes and class “fractions,” Hedges concurs with Marx, that the marginalized poor (lumpenproletariat), as a group, present little threat to the ruling elite.

“The real danger to the elite comes from déclassé intellectuals, those educated middle-class men and women who are barred by a calcified system from advancement. Artists without studios or theaters, teachers without classrooms, lawyers without clients, doctors without patients and journalists without newspapers descend economically. They become, as they mingle with the underclass, a bridge between the worlds of the elite and the oppressed. And they are the dynamite that triggers revolt.”

Blog 5: Power to the People

The video “Dubstep rebellion – the British banlieue comes to Millbank” displayed the movement of students publically standing up against their government, in order to “change the game of politics.” Because the parliament’s interest lies not with the future generations, students, majority being undergraduates, see the tragic fate of their future. By the government refusing to accommodate to social demands, the society becomes incapable of conforming to the current social structure; forcing them to find new means of surviving in society. By promoting independence and freedom, the movement attempts to give back the rights to the people. This movement involves a generation; these are the people who must endure the consequences of the poorly structured future; however, they refuse to be apart of a system that is not virtuous.

From the tuition hikes to no post-graduate job opportunities, students are struggling to make sense of their lives, let alone survive in the real world without a stable income. In the video, a woman spoke about how through organization and unification, the group established a message and gave itself a public voice. Through this, people are given the opportunity to expose the problems they face to society. There are students who express the fear that once they graduate the university they will not find jobs, and express their opposition against tuition hikes. There are those who find their future to be hopeless, some of which resort to selling drugs, which are fighting to change the lack of opportunities offered to them. The ideology of this movement can be seen globally. There are countless people who are trapped by the business of education and the lack of student interest in the government. I think those who attend CUNY colleges can relate. Not only are they raising tuition, they are cutting classes, causing students to transfer to other schools to finish their major. Also they are refining the general requirements, proposing a new “Pathway to Knowledge,” which eliminates the foreign language requirements. Making students less diverse, causing them to be less marketable for jobs in this globalized economy.

During Occupy Wall Street protest, I encountered a man who was dressed as a superhero, shackled to a weight ball that said “Student Loans.” He stood at the protest and explained his story of how he had earned a masters degree, was drowning in debt, and had no job. There were many students at this protest who expressed the same fear, and others who are unfortunate who expressed to be in the exact situation. I believe this is a fear all undergraduate students face, but it shouldn’t be. People who are willing to receive an education, for personal or financial profit, must be entitled to a job opportunity by the society. Because individuals compose a society, the interest of the society should be to serve people. It is terrible to see the potential of the youth, an entire generation, go to waste because of the government refuses to compromise with the interest of society.

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Blog 1: Class consciousness and Global Revolution

In The German Ideology, Marx’s theory elaborates on the structure of society, organization of labor and class, interests of the individual verses the state, and the inevitable revolution against the ruling class by the majority. His theories are unfolding right before our eyes around the world. Marx explains that “the interest of the separate individual or the individual family and the communal interest of all individuals” vary. This causes great disparities in society because the interests of the certain individuals in specific classes are not being met, while the interest of the ruling class profits. Throughout the past year, citizens of countless countries such as Egypt, Libya, Russia and the United States, have gathered to defend their rights and fight for social change and equality. Marx in The German Ideology explains the conditions which ultimately causes the rise of the working class, and its goals to seek change. Marx illustrates that the timing of the revolution is important. He explains that certain “conditions of life, which different generations find in existence, decide also whether or not the periodically recurring revolutionary convulsion will be strong enough to overthrow the basis of the entire existing system.” There are elements which contribute to a revolution, one of which is the development of class consciousness. Currently, people around the world are becoming more aware of their position in society and its role in their daily lives. By recognizing their conditions, people begin to connect to others through understanding, they find a“relation of individuals to nature and to one another.” This relation is what allows for people to come together, despite the disparities that exist between each other, and have a common ground for seeking social change.

People are realizing that they have a voice, and have come to recognize that they have power in their society because many have found a new collective understanding through new relation to others who are suffering from the same conflicts. They seek to find justice and equality in how they are represented by their government. Marx’s theory of the revolution concludes with the organization of ideas for change. He explains that it is important for the ideas of the revolutionists to be universal because then the revolution can“represent its interest as the common interests of all the members of society.” Global movements, including Occupy Wall Street, have brought a masses of people together (the 99%), who seek to not overthrow the government, but aim to encourage change in the policies and regulations that the government enforces, which dictate and impact the daily lives of the mass of individuals. Marx’s theory demonstrates that “the class making a revolution appears from the very start, if only because it is opposed to a class, not as a class but as the representative of the whole of society; it appears as the whole mass of society confronting the one ruling class.” His theory is valid, and seems that a revolution is inevitable especially when certain conditions and time seem to align in a society. His ideology is proven by the various protests around the world today. Perhaps, people will always be inclined to seek and fight for change, and find justice in their lives and in the life of their society.

— Karina Khafizova