|On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism|
RESILIENCE OF THE PATHOLOGY
The first problem is one of perception.
The single largest barrier to human perception in a hierarchy is the individual’s desire to maintain his/her status within the hierarchy, as measured by economic and class status.
This barrier to perception is so strong that it may as well be physiological. In most circumstances it is just as difficult for a slave to perceive that he/she is a slave as it would be for the slave to see in the ultraviolet segment of the light spectrum. “I need the master because he protects us and organizes the work…” Indeed, the largest practical challenge in Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed is to create circumstances and occasions in the hope that self-awareness of the subject’s oppression will be catalyzed and nurtured.
Similarly, it is virtually impossible for members of the First-World middleclass to perceive the depth of their own oppression and exploitation. They reason that they are relatively privileged and therefore cannot be oppressed and they adopt the oppressions of others; or they blame themselves for all “failures” and difficulties and practice self-destruction; or they displace their need for meaningful work and societal agency with any number of transfers and escapes; etc.
The second problem is one of perception.
Most of all, it is impossible for institutionalized individuals in the First-World middleclass to perceive solutions that involve risk, the possibility of losing economic and social status. We have no experience of defending ourselves against our oppression. We only have the experience of an institutionalized existence of compliance where our lives are laid out in stages: school, graduations, diplomas, career development, student debt management, mortgage payments, retirement savings…
In addition to this, individuals subjected to a hierarchy of domination are trained to seek approval and to fit in. They lose the natural tendency to seek truth and instead accept and feed upon the “tapestry of lies” (both right and left) provided and maintained by power and its army of service intellectuals (see ). Information that is contrary to the approved mental environment is considered threatening and is either vehemently rejected or ridiculed. A good example of this response is the vicious cynicism of so-called-progressive left citizens and “activists” that is reserved for “conspiracy nuts” such as the proponents (truthers) of the 911-truth movement.
Information that would cause the First World middleclass activist to question his/her no-risk-to-status response to perceived (and transferred/displaced) injustices or to question the value of his/her longstanding investment in the particular adopted no-risk-to-status response to the perceived injustices is denied entry and attacked . It cannot be perceived as something that is potentially true. The truthers themselves, for example, can delve into off-the-charts considerations only because this information is not threatening to them: They have adopted the belief that simply uncovering the truth and exposing it and explaining it can produce the needed change, if only a critical mass of informed citizens can be achieved via cyber space and public event or media activism.
All in all, truth is not compatible with approval and individuals subjected to a hierarchy of domination have little regard for truth. The substitute of choice is “like-mindedness”. This is why so-called-progressives hold “education” in such high regard. They intuitively understand that flyering and documentary films (etc.) are effective ways to sway institutionalized citizens into a given variety of like-mindedness.
There is almost no realization among First World activists of Freire’s praxis of liberation via fighting one’s own oppression as the only way to uncover the truth about one’s life.
CONCLUSION AND THE VITALITY OF THE RIGHT
We should despise both the authoritarian right which leads to corporate fascism and the paternalistic left of socialism and communism which leads to communal castration and death of the individual. Both right authoritarianism and left paternalism depend on and produce control hierarchies. All hierarchies are violently oppressive by nature. 
First World citizens cannot significantly contribute to the needed anti-hierarchy activism and will only accommodate power and protect the killing machine as long as they are unable to authentically perceive their own oppression by the same hierarchy that is violently oppressing us all – because the obedience training of school, the indoctrination of graduate and professional schools, and the complete control of the worker by the finance-corporate economy are unmistakably violent processes that deprive us of our humanity.
In this regard, the right is more effective than the left. Left progressives mistakenly see their privilege as proof that they are not oppressed. In fact, their “privilege” is only the reward for accepting to be violated in making them into gatekeepers and supporters of the hierarchy. Intuitively they know that effective activism could compromise their “privilege”.
The right activists, on the other hand, root their politics in individual rights and see themselves as threatened by structures and changes that would remove their individual rights. In this way, they are closer to the true impulse of the anti-hierarchy activist and therefore represent a formidable instrument of power when they are manipulated.
Leaving aside the religious fanatics on the right that would impose their beliefs on us all and the political correctness fanatics on the left that would impose their beliefs on us all, American libertarianism has deep roots and is a powerful potential ally of anarchy-inspired anti-hierarchy (pro-democracy!) activism.
To my reading, American libertarianism is not an insignificant fringe movement and probably has not been co-opted to the same degree as fringe left anarchism. Dedicated anti-hierarchy activists, the only hope for significant First World contributions to liberation, would do well to ally themselves with libertarians and to participate in the societal discourse about the place of libertarianism in society.
Damn yes, own guns, no required schooling, no bank bail outs, no head office corporate decisions, voluntary taxation, accountable politicians, no insurance company controls, accessible cost-recovery-interest community-bank loans to individuals, coops and small businesses, no party-selected candidates, no wars abroad, no surveillance or personal information gathering, complete transparency in public and corporate affairs, no prohibition of any substances, no personal lifestyle and work choice criminalization, voluntary personal safety decisions, no restrictions on growing your own food, decriminalized assisted (or not) suicides, no legal or government bankruptcy protections for creditors (people first), health freedom, no barriers to work, no corporate or government controlled media, only community-controlled corporations…
A consistent application of libertarian principles anchored in individual freedom could go a long way to dismantling oppressive structures.
 essay URL on Activist Teacher blog
And see "RELATED WEB POSTS" below.
 “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, 1776.
 “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848.
 “The Basic Bakunin – Writtings 1869-1871” by Mikhail Bakunin.
 For a discussion of the illusions provided and maintained by power see the essay “Some big lies of science” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.
 “One Dimensional Man” by Herbert Marcuse, 1964.
 “Pacifism as Pathology” by Ward Churchill, 1986.
 “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, 1970.
 “Need for and Practice of Student Liberation” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.
 For an explanation applicable to the professional work environment see “Disciplined Minds” by Jeff Schmidt, 2000.
 “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, 1980.
 “Activism and Risk - Life beyond altruism” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2007.
 For example, see “Understanding Power – The indispensable Chomsky” by Noam Chomsky, 2002.
 “Canadian Education as an Impetus towards Fascism” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009.
 “G20-Toronto and lost sovereignty - A critical examination of the role of the CCLA” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.
 "Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi" by Norman G. Finkelstein, 2009.
 See note-, “Some Big Lies of Science”, for a discussion of the “medicine is health” lie.
 “Taking CO2 Seriously” (essay) by David F. Noble and Denis G. Rancourt, 2007.
 “Against Chomsky” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2008.
 “The Activist Wars” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009.
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|William A. Cook|