The Bad News about Imperialism, the Good News about Feminism, Socialism, and Humanist Wisdom

This is something I was meaning to write for a long time. Maybe I'll get around to it sometime, but I woke up just now thinking that it might be pretty easy to write a short synopsis of it and let the reader do the rest.

For all I know this has all been laid out before somewhere else. In retrospect, it seems a little obvious. Then again, I don't see a lot of people talk about this One Big Thing, so maybe that's not wholly true. Anyway.

I was going to write a pamphlet or short book. The working title was, "The Bad News about Imperialism, the Good News about Feminism, Socialism, and Humanist Wisdom."

The thesis was this:

1. That all oppressive thinking is of one sort: it can be boiled down to imperialistic thinking–that is, exploitative thinking. What do I mean by that? It is when one aspect of something that is basically whole and coequal decides that another aspect of it should be subordinate to the other and decides to treat it so.

a. Imperialism on a global political-economic scale is when one set of humans (the empire, the imperialists) decides to force another to suffer in some way (by colonizing it, setting it up so that it is easily and consistently exploited) so that the former can "benefit" in some way–that is, so that the imperialist can acquire more of some resource by having the colonized produce it despite not truly wanting to because of a system of violence, coercion, and fear that the colonized is encaged in.

b. Capitalism is imperialism on an intra-national scale: the ruling owning class exploits the working class.

c. Sexism is sexual imperialism: males, especially males that buy into patriarchal masculinity, perpetuate the subjugation of women because of numerous economic and psychological "benefits" that are only possible thereby.

d. Racism is another form of imperialism: white people, especially white people who believe in race as a scientific reality, perpetuate the subjugation of people of color, again because of numerous economic and psychological "benefits" that are only possible thereby.

2. That we have already conceived of understandings of how to cure the world of at least most of the prevailing imperialism that takes place in it. Those understandings can be conceived of in three broad but significantly interconnected categories:

a. Feminism: the analysis of the ways in which women are oppressed (but indeed analysis can and should be brought to bear on racist oppression, anti-queer oppression, anti-trans oppression, classist oppression, and so on, not least because, as bell hooks points out, if you would end the exploitation and oppression of all women, you can't possibly ignore the factors involved in the oppression of women of color, of poor women, of queer women, of trans women, and so on, nor the ways in which this system is damaging to all people regardless of gender, race, sexuality, and so on).

b. Socialism: the analysis of the economic reasons of how these oppressions came to be and why they remain this way, as well as how it all might be brought to an end. This might also be called Marxism. The economic basis of all these oppressions is bound up in capitalism and imperialism's requirement that there by an exploitable working class that will work for less than the value it generates so that an exploiting owning class can profit off of it. The way to end it would be to unite the working class and all oppressed people of the world to recognize their common interest in ending this exploitation in order to overthrow all imperialism and capitalism by instituting a system that would be conscious of humanity's capacity to engage in imperialism of many different sorts and seek to obviate it at every point by ensuring that human beings were universally empowered internally and externally in every sense possible. Included in such an understanding of socialism should also be an understanding of humanity's relationship with nature as not being one of fundamental difference but one of connection and unity, and so socialism would also necessarily seek to end an exploitative relationship between humanity and nature as much as possible.

c. Humanist wisdom: the analysis of the modes of thought that allow the sort of intellectual mistake that would encourage one to think of another human as sub-human in any way. A basis for these modes of thought might be called egoism and conceived of as a sort of inward-facing imperialism, wherein one aspect of the mind has decided that the rest of the mind should be subordinate to it and must serve it. Most religious traditions and secular traditions of wisdom have tried to explain this in some way or another.

i. The basic idea is that the ego believes it IS the whole mind, that it speaks for the whole mind, and that all a self's or a being's desires and feelings are contained in the model of the self (the ego, the internal self-portrait) that the self mistakes for the whole self because the ego believes it IS the whole self–and constantly tells itself that it is the whole self.

ii. In truth, each of us with an ego (which is pretty much all of us, so far as I can tell) is so much more than we know. One of the most obvious proofs of this is the existence of the subconscious.

iii. Whatever of the self does not fit into the ego's model of itself is suppressed and denied attention and encouragement, causing neurosis of some kind.

iv. While obviously there are a great many potential resources for this, one excellent example is The Art of Being and Becoming by Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Advertisements