Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Marx Zuckerburg: How the Oppressor Class Teaches Us to Live or Die Trying

Preface: I'm thankful for the freedom to say that Justin Wyllie's review of Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed is awful.

Marxist [literary] theory, at least at the time of writing this although this is certain to be reevaluated by tomorrow morning, is the idea that the societies and people depicted in novels are representations of social classes and together with symbols and themes point to a machine which all members of the society are responsible for keeping active, and thus are all equal. BUT WAIT, let's throw Justin Wyllie's Encyclopedia de la verbose into that definition. Wyllie says that Marxism is basically about "keeping the proletariat submerged in a false consciousness," (7). Wyllie seems bitter about Marx's optimism. I don't think there is a "false consciousness" with Marx, just as I don't think pretending I'm doing well in this class is that unhealthy (it's like carbs in a way).

One thing Wyllie does well in his review is agree with Freire (even though he gives the credit to Eric Fromm...the smug is unreal). "They [the oppressor class] cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have," (4) he quotes. AND THEN he has the nerve to say "we would only partially accept this." Freire is highlighting the "distinction between 'being' and 'having' as two contrasting approaches to the problem of living," (4). The problem of living is the essential idea behind the common struggle Marx points out, though he doesn't necessarily preach to the oppressors to change before they die trying to live. While the oppressor (a.k.a. le bourgeoisie) struggles with what they have (possessions, power, pride over possessing power) the oppressed (a.k.a. le proletariat) struggle with living ("being") under the ruling authority of the oppressor. The conclusion drawn (literally, below) is that the oppressed do not necessarily have to usurp the oppressive, they just have to wait it out until the oppressive "suffocate in their own possessions."

The artistic skills strike again...Okay reviewing I think this looks more like a money suit than a man drowning in his possessions, and when Wyllie says "Conquest operates on a scale from repressive measures to 'the most solicitous (paternalism)'. The conqueror makes of people his possession," (12) it make me think that instead of money it should really be people, specifically the proletariat type. What I wanted to express was the inevitable demise of the bourgeoisie through their own pursuits...but still, I imagine a money-suit isn't very comfortable.

So first question:
Does Justin Wyllie hate innocent college students?

What's with the title? How are the oppressed pedagogical? (If by asking this question I'm exposing myself as a very inattentive reader, I never asked...and I'll deny it to the media).

Dialectical materialism?? Like...the logical argument of owning stuff? (Capitalism?)

And why are Capitalists schizophrenic? "The signal disease of late industrial capitalism is schizophrenia." 

What happened to Wordsworth's "write for the common man"? I'M TALKING TO YOU WYLLIE!


  1. You don't seem convinced by the Marxist idea of false consciousness. Here's a fun little thing to consider: it is your false consciousness preventing you from believing the idea to be legitimate. Even more so, what if it is your false consciousness speaking when you say you are "thankful for the freedom to say Wyllie’s review . . . is awful." Rather than focusing on Wyllie’s/Freire's emphasis on changing how we educate so as to encourage critical thinking and questioning, we as intensely capitalist subjects are guided by our false consciousness to understand society as self-regulating (the rich will self-destruct if they are too rich!) rather than seeing it as something which we can and should have an active role in changing for the better.

  2. Yes, I think there is a bit of confusion on this: "Wyllie says that Marxism is basically about 'keeping the proletariat submerged in a false consciousness,' (7). Wyllie seems bitter about Marx's optimism." I am glad you are wrestling with this, but I think you are a bit off in your reading. Wyllie is basically just ventriloquizing Marx, who believes that one of the main problems with the hegemonic superstructure is that we tend to see ourselves as free within it. We don't understand how we are always already interpellated. Marx does want to engender a revolution, and to do that, he wants us to begin by making ideology visible, so we can see how we are disciplined (in that panoptic way we discussed) and constrained. There is a kind of optimism in there, for sure, but it's also a bleak assessment. Anyway, Wyllie is mostly just parroting Freire here, and Freire is mostly just applying Marx to the educational world. I like your post a lot though! Despite some confusion, you are totally IN IT, probing all the right questions.