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Yesterday’s gods are today’s tokens 5 May 2008

Posted by MOZAFFAR in MOZAFFAR, Politics, Psychology.
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To oppress a population, you must take away their power. You must disempower them. Now, to disempower them, you have to replace their real material power, with impotent mythic power.

In the past, the easiest way to exploit and oppress someone was to convince the oppressed (and sometimes convince the oppressor, yourself) that the oppressed is a god. If you exploit women in your society, then you make women into gods. Consider the Arabs just before the advent of the Qur’an. It is hard to imagine a climate more vicious for women. Baby girls were buried shortly after birth. The surviving women were usually little more than property, with little purpose more than the procreation of more males.

Yet, in that society they claimed that God had daughters. If you want to disempower someone, you make that someone into a god. Consider the effect on the psyche. You have given that person the highest status imaginable: a god. In so doing, you have given yourself license to give them the most brutal exploitation.

In today’s world, it is difficult to create new gods. In today’s world, that exploitation manifests in two ways. One method is collective, and the other method is individual.

At the collective level, the god-making (godification) of today is a sort of self-deification. It is nationalism. Consider the psyche associated with nationalism. If you want to exploit a population, you frame your policies under the garb of nationalism. Look at the nationalism of the United States today. It is easy to believe that 9/11 was the result of religious fanaticism hell-bent on destroying us just because of who we are. Yet, it is impossible for people to accept that 9/11 is blowback. It is impossible for people to accept that 9/11 was related to, if not wholly motivated by our (often exploitative) ventures across the Muslim populations of the world. It was on the wave of nationalism that the White House—with almost unaninmous support from the Senate—was able to obliterate Iraq. Even in the indigenous opposition to the war in Iraq, this opposition places focus on our human and material losses. The Iraqi losses are still irrelevant.

It is impossible for so many American people today to even accept that racism is as deeply institutionalized in today’s society as it is. To even introduce the notion that racism exists in America is to repel people. A primary cause is this empty self-deification: nationalism. The American people today are reduced to little more than an empty nationalist shell; in the process a few individuals in positions of real material power are continuing to line their pocketbooks with gold. The American myth is a damned myth that is being exploited beyond belief.

At the individual level, we find something within the nationalist paradigm: the token. In the process of disempowering a people today, it is difficult to make a god of them. But, they can be tokenized. That tokenization takes place by way of giving a position of status to a living person of the oppressed population, giving the impression of appreciation for or attention to that population or memorializing a deceased person from that population. Anyone who has lived in the United States for any period of time knows that public appointments are not based exclusively on merit. They are often token positions. If we were to look at today’s Presidential Cabinet, we would think that all the problems of race and bigotry had long been resolved, whether we are speaking of the plight of Blackamericans, Latinos or Arabs. These are the games of contemporary politics, and those in real power continue to loot this country right under our noses.

Such are the games of power, and masses are used and abused repeatedly through the generations. The games do not change.

And Allah knows best.

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