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[Xmca-l] Re: What is a Pedagogy of the Oppressors?



Hi Greg and others!

Please accept my apology for this very long post, but I trust it will be worth much to you, as I believe there is some Good Thinking in it. I hope you feel as I do, but the only way to know of course is for you to read it!  :)

I did at first understand your suggestion of Pedagogy of the Oppressors to be how to teach the oppressors not to be oppressors. I believe that we all agree that this would be the end game we all seek, unless one of course wants to be an oppressor and believes that, say, Kublai Khan's society is a perfect model for us. [Meh!]

However, I think perhaps a jump that both Helena and I made intuitively (if I am not being presumptuous of Helena's jumping as being like my jumping) is that in order to get the a point of an education that you suggest, Greg, we must first look at how the Oppressors are conditioned to be Oppressors. What is that narrative?

It is my sense that an examination of that is mandatory, if not only to prevent replications, which seems easy to do when we are hypnotized by the narrative as being "the" rather than "a" narrative, so that we can consciously pass into the kind of pedagogy that you want to see happen, which is to delegitimize oppression period, and to make a move to somewhere else enlightened and liberated. I don't think we can really get to Somewhere Else until we know Where is Here.

There are many many pedagogies to oppress and they are not only in schools. We see it in the construction of race, in class, we see it in the military, in politics, we see it in the factory floor, in prisons, in families, on television and in movies, in advertising and other media, like pop music. It is frightening when one observes "a" pedagogy over "the" pedagogy, how many there are. 

To look at these "scientifically" we would have to observe each of these environments and see what it is that they have in common. How is oppression expressed? Is the oppression that we think we will find the actual oppression that is expressed?

You see, in order to find the solution to oppression we must look at the problem as it is, as we find it. I believe that the solution is inherent in the problem, as tends to be the case of most problems. So in this case 4+7=10, that is, we must start from where we are before we can fully understand that 4+7=11.

I'd also like to offer that just as the "East/West" way of discussing oppression fails, so does discussing oppression in terms of "individual/collective," which I sense is what Michael was referencing. Individualism is not bad as long as its practice isn't at the expense of other individuals. Collectivism is not bad, as long as its practice isn't at the expense of other collectives. This is why I sense it may not offer a fruitful analysis. But I do admit is it "a" narrative that we have seen replicated in many ways "east" and "west," "north" and "south."

I even wonder if the narrative of "Capitalism/Communism" is also a false construct, that it too is "a" narrative of many layered narratives of oppression.

I don't think that what we are learning here is that oppressors need to be taught how not to oppress. What we are learning here is the PEDAGOGY that is taught to people SO THAT they become OPPRESSORS. And like you say, anyone can be oppressed and anyone can be oppressors, and these roles can be turned on and off depending upon the environments that we find ourselves.

In this sense, in the end, it is learning how to eliminate a language of oppression so that we can learn a language of peace, of gratitude, of love, of community, of kindness, of caring, and to do so without embarrassment or doubt. I think this is what Larry is suggesting with "social dreaming," but I may be wrong about that. Rather than dream, let's just be in The Here, Right Now and speak freely of what is here and what is missing, and what we want in terms of liberation. 

Let's not think of elephants in terms of not-elephants, let's think of liberation in terms of liberation. Let's orient to what we want in terms of what we want?

Perhaps like Vygotsky, we would have to begin and look at the genesis of oppression, how does it manifest? Is it really BECAUSE of race? is it really BECAUSE of class? I hope people will be patient while I make this suggestion. IF race is the CAUSE of oppression, then it means ALL forms of oppression are explained by race. This simply isn't the case. Same for class, etc. 

Like you, I believe that we are naturally good, and that the habits of violence and despair are taught to us. We know this because of the innocence of children, and all the art that memorializes the loss of our innocence (like the fall from Eden, etc). THAT we can appreciate the laughter of children MEANS this laughter is within us, otherwise we would not recognize its joy.

This is why I look to feeling, sense, affect, emotion, and similar intuitive forms of understanding as our guiding star. It is this understanding of affect that is missing from the language of oppression. It has been corralled away from other forms of logic and intellectual pursuit, as if these are languages of machines. 

We must look to what the world would look like if Descartes DID NOT NEED to separate mind from body because of threat of persecution of the Church of his day. This is not to say that Descartes was the first dualist, but he is perhaps Our First Dualist who has a particularly long shadow into our lives today, and so it offers us a possible entrance of how to discuss this separation. Of course I am not suggesting a return to a partnership of a monarchy and a theocracy, but instead to consider what would the development of science have been if the mind and the body remained united in our minds and our bodies? Would we have had to wait until Freud to begin examining the mind? I don't believe so. 

I could argue that the Marquis De Sade was at the threshold of psychology when he wrote 120 Days of Sodom from his cell in the Bastille at the eve of the French Revolution. But this may be seen as too radical a concept for people; I do not mean to offer cruelty as our model, but to suggest that he was examining What Is Cruelty as expressed in the mind IF we were to see it expressed to us in MATERIAL, which would be as bodies sensing pain and pleasure.

I think in that kind of world where the mind and body are seen as united and studied in that way, there might be less oppressed people and less people desiring to oppress others. I feel that this separation of mind and body is what de Sade was attempting to expose (in high contrast) and I feel likewise (although the other side of the coin) what Vygotsky was doing in his re-search for a unified psychology, was through a unification mind and body. 

Otherwise, why study children? The study of children is the site of the whole-human, before the division from our own innocence, "before Descartes."

Perhaps the PEDAGOGY that we aspire to create is to show the oppressors how oppressive it is to be an oppressor and how unsustainable a project it is for the planet that we find ourselves standing upon.

Thanks for reading this!

Kind regards,

Annalisa