C R I T I C A L T H E O R Y

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A 9.5mg PDF which outlines the history and basic principles and concepts of Critical Theory. Fully illustrated.

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C R I T I C A L T H E O R Y

  1. 1. © 2007
  2. 2. THEORY l Education Theory is part of a broader theory Critical Theory. Critical Theory is socio- l theory developed in Germany in the 1930s in se to the rise of Fascism. It sought to explain the of Marxism to bring about a social revolution, lenges received notions of reality, seeking to strate the ways in which our conceptions are y constructed. Critical Theory is reflexive that is, are that the “reality” that we experience “out does not exist independently of ideology, but is shaped (along with our perceptions of it) by of power and hegemony that have a human . These forces continually try to control all the of shaping society and its belief system - ion, the Media, Religion, the Law, The Church, g Regulations, the Economy etc. They do so to uce their own version of reality, their own ic, social and cultural supremacy - their ony. Critical Theory views all beliefs, realities, etc. in their social and economic context and who stands to gain from society seeing things ay? It then looks to discover how the iaries of the system have created the system to
  3. 3. AKAPAPA al Theory evolves from the wider line of Social Theory, and looks at the in which political ideology shapes ienced reality as a way of maintaining ng regimes of privilege and social control. ts a critical eye upon History, Philosophy, tion, the Media, the Law, the Church and cs and all of the instruments and vehicles shape the way we see things. It holds that instruments of social control are elves shaped by the ideologies and power ures of Capitalism, and that their purpose reproduce these conditions in ways which it the already-powerful. Instead, Critical y promotes a counter-ideology which sees agencies as potential vehicles for social tion and transformation and as a means of ing social, cultural, and economic equity. ly, it did this from an orthodox (economic) ist point of view, but increasingly has ed many of the tenets and theories of ral Studies to demonstrate how control
  4. 4. the 19th Century, political theorising has been polarised between two different interpretations of his opment: Capitalism and Marxism. The one sees the development of a free market of exchange based etition between individual producers as the basis of rational economic development. The other sees etition as essentially wasteful of resources and see the only rational future to be based upon economic and eration and collective ownership. orm of economic social activity in which the The 19th Century political and economic the of production is not owned by the producers or economist and philosopher Karl Marx s themselves but by a small group of others predicted the fall of Capitalism and the own olders) who take the profit from the of the means of production by the workers, tion process that ought to go to the workers. upon the fact that the Capitalist system is so aintained that this system contained inherent unstable. Marx predicted a Socialist Revoluti ictions and class conflicts that would 1917, people believed that this had arrived ely cause its fall and replacement by the Russian Revolution. But this failed to be
  5. 5. believed that Capitalism was basically itative since the wages the workers get can allow them to fully afford the things they ce. This is because the surplus value that they is taken by those who own the “means of ction”. He held that until the workers elves owned the means of production, the itation would continue, and so would the social ns that they engender. With the Russian tion of 1917, Socialists believed that the world- revolution that Marx had predicted had arrived. the Soviet Union, the workers did now have ownership of the means of production. That eld by the State, and the workers remained mic slaves to the State system. Many believe is is why the Communist State failed. Critical y was born out of the recognition of that failure, ttempted to theorise how the application of ’s original theory had been flawed. Marx had the Capitalist System the Economic Base (or ation), and the social relations that they produce ultural Superstructure. He theorised that the mic base determined all social and cultural
  6. 6. ting the ideology of Capitalism, is the counter-ideology of Communism or Socialism. Socialism is fo very different view of the human condition than Capitalism. It rejects deterministic notions of History, H and other ideologies that suggest there to be an inevitable struggle between competitive individuals. Inst ts that competition is a condition brought about by a scarcity of resources. People only compete becaus there is not enough to go around. In fact, Socialists maintain, the World contains enough resourc ody to live with a high standard of living. The problem is that the resources that do exist are not e ted among all of the people on the planet. In this model, the rich are rich only by creating the conditio the poor remain poor.
  7. 7. BASE-SUPERSTRUCTURE rx had theorised that all social and cultural circumstances were determined by the economic circumstances ch they occur, and that it was largely impossible to bring about significant economic (or structural) chan eaceful means. This was why he predicted that real change could only happen through armed revolution pened in Russia). He characterised the Economy as the Base of all social relations, and the social relatio selves as the Superstructure. His theory involved a contradiction, however. It wasn’t clear from his theo one could change society to the point where armed insurrection was acceptable to the masses without f nging the Economic Base, but he himself suggested that this was not possible. Critical Theory, in its critiq arxism, suggested instead that Culture was itself a very powerful agent for social and therefore econom nge. Hence it was, in the 1960s, that Critical Theorising gave rise in Birmingham, England to elopment of the field of Cultural Studies.
  8. 8. l Theory is therefore based upon achieving ic, political and cultural freedom for all by interrogating how the rules and structures vern society are designed by the powerful to in their privilege and power. It needs to be at this point why Indigenous peoples should y credence to what is, after all, another of the er’s models of how things should work. Isn’t l Theory just another version of the old phy of “we know what’s best for you!”? There e reason to believe that this might be so, e Critical Theory uses very big words and a ly private and complicated language to itself - making it difficult for any but the tual elite to understand. But having said that, it eds to be said that one of the cornerstones of l Theory is the struggle to achieve the ability edom for people to determine their own lives, wn cultures and their own economies - in Tinorangatiratanga. Whereas in all previous s of social change, Cultural issues were made inate to Class issues, in Critical Theory they tral. Critical Theory does not advocarte that it for freedom for all workers before self- ination can happen. It suggests that the
  9. 9. had based all of his theorising on issues of Class difference, which tended to overlook or negate impo differences that occurred on the basis of or alongside of issues of Race or Gender, with all of the mu ngs of meaning and experience with which these are associated. At the University of Birmingham in the 1 h/West Indian Professor Stuart Hall and a group of Critical Theorists established the Centre for Contemp ral Studies. The mission of the Centre was to analyse all of the instruments or agencies of cultural product edia, the Schools, The Legal System, the Churches, the Parliamentary system etc., operate to reproduc r relations in society through the reproduction of dominant cultural views and values. Their work took pla ntext of a Cultural revolution that was emerging in Britain, where the irreverent pronouncements and mus orking class Beatles and images of Coronation Street were beginning to challenge middle class norms, im alues.
  10. 10. POLITICS ety there are many different cultural gs. Under the system of representative cy, the majority generally determine the nd regulations that govern behaviour. ltural group must struggle to persuade ority of the value and importance of its nt, to achieve hegemony. But all groups uggle to do this. They therefore have to with each other to influence public . The power to do this is not evenly Some groups have more power than o influence public opinion. In Critical this group is called the Dominant . As Marx said,” quot;The ideas of the ruling e in every epoch the ruling ideas; i.e.., s, which is the ruling material force of is at the same time its ruling intellectual he class which has the means of material ion at its disposal, has control at the time over the means of mental ion”. In other words the dominant in any society is the one which has the
  11. 11. trolling everyday public assumptions about the meaning of ncepts, it becomes possible to shape that everyday reality o specific ends. The public belief in an essential “human renders attempts to achieve a peaceful and just society, te by definition. The predominance of the ideology of a n nature” is aimed precisely at the prevention of social change gesting that real change is impossible - all the unacceptable that exist - greed, cruelty etc are just part of “human nature” ’t be changed. So we may as well not try. The purpose of this aintain those existing power relationships that are exactly the of the problem in the first place. The ideology of “human is diametrically opposed to the ideology of social change. In rld of competing ideologies, those people or groups that have st power are also the ones who are best able to influence opinion. This is called hegemony. Hegemony is the s by which the disempowered are persuaded to participate in their own disempowerment. From Gramsci's , the armed repression of the state represented the failure of the dominant culture to achieve hege ony, in this sense, he defined as the process embodied in the ability of the State to create in its citiz lar moral and ethical attitude corresponding to that espoused by the ruling elite, and thereby to have the m pulation acquiesce to their own domination. In today’s world, this serves the interests of Global Capi h the creation of a “Free Market” the purpose of which is to create an unlimited supply of cheap lab t industrial development by large multi-national companies. Although they are not elected, these companie
  12. 12. NATURE s as though competition, individualism, passivity rarchy are part of Human Nature, but this is an Critical Theory holds that there is no such thing as Nature that is separate from the conditions in which . All behaviour is shaped by the circumstances in t exists. Lobsters and crabs in a pot will attack each ut in the wild they exhibit very different behaviour. uman world, “human nature” is a term usually used ribe the “worst” aspects of behaviour - greed, on etc. We seldom use the term to describe love or . This should alert us to the ideological basis of the arx suggested that in our modern world, all social s are determined by the circumstances of Capitalism hich we live, and that in order to have a more just and equitable world we would need to abandon sm. something part of “human nature” is to suggest that possible to change it. The social construction of a in “human nature” leads to passivity and ence in the face of power, because it appears s and futile to try to change something that is so
  13. 13. STORY ccepted history of any is always the object of l Theorising. One very ant way of maintaining ony and control is to have ople believe that current stances are the result of l and purposeful pments that have an able logic about them. It rtant for people to believe here they are situated was inevitable, because this ed inevitability carries h to influence their future ours, and at the same time ates any control measures e already-powerful may to maintain their power. Orwell once wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present contr The idea that the past, which is gone, can be controlled, sounds paradoxical. We presume that the pas lar way, that it happened in a particular order, and that events were related in specific causative relations meant, I think, is that we continually rewrite history to make sense of the present, and to give us some s we are progressing into the future, but that the ability to rewrite the story of the past is not evenly distr
  14. 14. CULTURAL CAPITAL struggle for hegemony between cultures, some have values that are more highly valued than n society in general.In most western societies, for , ballet, opera and fine art have high status, while ging and break-dancing have less. These high- ultural values are referred to as cultural capital. capital works just like economic capital: the ealth you have, the easier it is to make even more. tion, the high value of high cultural capital s (like art) is created and maintained through a of socially-created scarcity. Based on the laws of and demand, the scarcer a commodity, the more it is. h cultural capital values associated with dominant activities (like fine art) operate through a system city which is built upon cultural codes. It is nt to maintain the value of a particular kind of ge by making access to its codes difficult. In break or read the codes of fine art, it is necessary rstand the language system in which the codes hese esoteric language systems are jealously , and form part of the training of elite education
  15. 15. in the inherent superiority in a particular set ral codes has always been the basis for ation and Colonialism. The American tion of the West, and the dispossession of its us peoples was carried out under the of Manifest Destiny. Europeans believed y had a superior culture, and that it was their en destiny to occupy the land and to sh the culture of its original inhabitants. In stration, we see Liberty leading the settlers he prairie, Bible in hand, stringing telegraph ith the other, while the “savages” flee ahead. hite Supremacist belief system, coupled with tual justification - Christianity - was the basis y genocidal act in the Americas from the ry by Columbus in 1494 down to the present. ose was the acquisition of resources, (land, precious metals and slaves) to fuel emerging capitalist produ accumulation. Christianity became the main vehicle by which European values were imposed upon in . Its imposition - through Education was both subtle and devastating. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, a Maor that schools were placed in Maori communities like Trojan Horses - to destroy the less visible aspects ugh the imposition their cosmologies and ideologies. In other words, the semantic structures of the coloni d into and replaced over time those of the colonised. Most significant of these structures has nment notion of rationality. It’s consequence for the colonised, as Fanon suggested, has been the most od isation, and that which has brought with it the greatest pain for the colonised - the colonisation of the mind ve come to disbelieve and reject the most sacred precepts of their own traditional cultures and theref
  16. 16. late Black American writer, James Baldwin once wisely noted that the most odious form of colonisation colonisation of the mind”, because once the mind has been colonised, once the seeds of cultural self-do been sown by the coloniser, all further experience then becomes both colonised and colonising. sition of Western European forms of rationality upon indigenous peoples has largely resulted in dwide and uniform colonisation of their mental processes. Rational discourse now permeates every secto culture on the planet,displacing indigenous modes of perception and experience. Yet rational discourse an important role in the development of a theoretical position with respect to issues of social change cipation. The confusion occurs because positivist form of rationalism - that which evolved from htenment and which relies upon objective, measurable verification - has become so invasive over the last ries that we tend to assume that it is the only form of rationality. On the contrary rationality is an inhere an trait. Rational thought clearly predates the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries. It is an integral aspec an life - an aspect of life which clearly has survival value. Henry Giroux has made a valuable contributio nderstanding of rationality my distinguishing some forms of rationality which do not address particular k estions. This analytic helps Giroux to identify three main streams of rationalist thought, and to clarify m e confusion which surrounds the conservative and the emancipatory moments of postmodern theoris 1. Technical rationality 2. Hermeneutic rationality 3. Emancipatory rationality. distinguishes the three modes is the way in which they ively apply themselves to the social issues which they nt. Each carries different social, cultural and political atives, which have a markedly different effect upon both the rse on rationality itself and on the results of their different
  17. 17. ical rationality is linked to principles of control, Science as it is currently practiced thus gains it addresses the world through processes of legitimacy only through the erasure of the legitima tification and control, using the natural sciences other views of reality, and it is in this sense that I r model of development. Technical rationality is it as an instrument of colonisation form of cognition which I have outlined sively above - that which is normatively taken as tificquot;. Technical rationality presumes that there objective world quot;out therequot; and that the job of alism is to employ all of the technical means at isposal to uncover and explain it. It suggests a y form of quot;realquot; knowledge of that world (ie. ledge which most accurately describes it). This ledge is seen as quot;value freequot;, uncontaminated by personal idiosyncratic perception or ideological a, and is seen to develop in a linear fashion, d to conceptions of history that are quot;progressivequot; at view the human story as one of continuing ess.) What gives (scientific) technical rationality lonising power is its very impersonality. Science mes to view the world from everywhere at the time and from no single particular personal ective at all. The scientific position is position- ts impersonality lends to science a reciprocating This Smithsonian Institute image of Liberty, m f personal, social and cultural neutrality which West across the Great Plains, stringing telegraph w ends both geographical and cultural boundaries book (Bible?) in hand, and leading se
  18. 18. ast to technical rationality, Giroux characterises On the other hand, hermeneutic rationality, while des utic rationality as a cognitive form which does the ways in which diverse forms of social relations as its starting point a monological view of meaning, does not address the ways in which the ge, but is founded upon a desire to understand meanings which are thus generated impinge upon eac ommunicative and symbolic patterns of and upon the social relations which have produced t on that shape individual and intersubjective avoids the notion of meaning as a site of struggle for f .quot; Whereas technical rationality presumes an a because it fails to account reflexively for its own a world which we strive to understand, neutrality. Hermeneutic rationality corresponds to wh utic rationality embraces the notion that we Foster has called a quot;postmodernism of reactionquot; which create that world through the symbolic forms promising to lead us from the moral and unication and understanding which shape our contradictions of technical rationality, leaves us witho ons. Hermeneutic rationality has much in moral position from which to address issues of su with phenomenology, since it links the issue domination or oppression an agency into the creation of social reality, ing the importance of intentionality, iation and intersubjectivity in the perception and of the social world. In hermeneutic rationality, beings are characterised not as passive ts, but as active agents in the production of . One of its significant achievements has been ng to focus attention upon how particular forms n relationships shape particular understandings nings, and in this respect it has helped to shed light upon the internal contradictions and the ative instrumentality of technical rationality.
  19. 19. ed in the technical rationality of science, on the social relationships and attempts to critically theorise t e have the logic of appeasement masquerading the intention of bringing about their transf ation through the rhetoric of postmodernism Transformative Rationality sees the world as unjust, an ptying social, cultural and political life of its this injustice reproduced by asymmetrical power relatio mative potential. Were it not for the fact that which the power to control and shape meaning (by also ity has always been a part of the logic of the social formations which shape that meaning) is no n it would be tempting to abandon all attempts distributed throughout the whole social collective. In l transformation, since the solidarity which transformative rationality locates rationality itself as an nd as the basis of the struggle against injustice of investigation within the process of inquiry to point to the binding force of mutuality for its in which critical analysis might contribute to the circum e. If not a rationalism based upon the logic of critiques. It does this by challenging amongst other t al Emancipation, then what? Giroux suggests a false dichotomy between individualism and collective c rm of rationality which is aimed not only at and between manual and intellectual labour, as at Peop cing and adding to our knowledge of the world Berkeley (below) case with technical rationality, nor at merely y describing the process by which we do this - e case with hermeneutic rationality. His third f rationality is grounded in a particular form of nding of how meaning is shaped in the context ination and struggle. It does not reject the utic understanding of how meaning is d, but extends it by recognising the reflexive of the social forces which shape that meaning shape our theorising of it. Transformative ity seeks not just to describe the world of social
  20. 20. course on rationality that was one of the corner stones of the tenment did not take place in a social, economic or political . It progressed hand in hand with the process of colonisation rapid advance of Capitalism made possible by the influx of resources, in both materials and bodies. The gold and silver e Americas, coupled with the dramatic expansion of slavery ll of this possible. It’s logic - the logic of control cannot be ed from its effects, most particularly the erasure of ous cultural experiences and identities on a global scale. tion of Progress which animated capitalist expansion was ogress of an elite few. For the colonised other is was Mr and Mrs Andrews by Gainsborou dal. In addition, those peasants dispossessed “at home” h legalities of “Enclosure”) and pressed into wage slavery imilarly if not equally decimated. The increasing legality of property destroyed the collective economies and identities ures across the globe. This, coupled with the need to develop s of consumption to absorb the items of production saw a xical increase in production and consumption coupled with oduction of a regimes scarcity - intended to increase prices king demand exceed supply. The two illustrations (right) e the disparities of wealth created by the q8th and 19th y Enclosures. Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (top) enjoy (and ) the fruits of their new-found wealth and Estate which has cquired by the exploitation of the poor and the theft of their
  21. 21. nomic process of Capitalism works through the extraction us value from “commodities” (useful or tradable articles). value or “profit” occurs when the price of something in n market (including the cost of raw materials and labour) exceeds the cost making it. For the process to work, ng must be reduced to the same monetary value system - “commodified”. First of all, this requires that it be seen as that is, as capable of ownership. This means that it must quirements of property ownership, as defined by the Law. , as it has developed since the 16th Century has basically aped to define and protect the rights of private property. commodity has been legally defined by its property rights, systems of title, copyright, etc. it can be traded in the lace as a commodity. The process of commodification e affects everything to do with the system of exchange. ing is reduced to it’s monetary or exchange value - be it a ted piece of land, a space, a plant, a genetic code, or even a value. Indeed, many of the Christian churches have ed their spiritual power through a parallel development of perty and wealth. Once the commodification of something n established, an increase in its commodity value becomes ive for the realisation of profit. This is achieved through tion of a condition of scarcity for the commodity, so that exceeds supply. Genetically modified woman with an
  22. 22. ic of technical rationality evolves, as noted, from the ents of capitalist expansion. Higher efficiencies, ns in costs, increases in profits etc. are all the results of its application. The attainment of m profit from the production process requires two that the cost of labour be minimised through the istence of a large pool of unemployed, vying for bs at low wages. the creation of desire, to ensure that demand ceeds supply. ve been basic principles of capitalist development e hundred years, but in the last twenty years (often The Age of Consumption”) that development has ted through a concerted move towards globalisation, s intended to provide at the same time, both cheap Dallas Food Line, 1987 and a market for consumption. fits to be high, wages must be low, requiring a surplus pool of labour to keep wages down. Growth the high unemployment in order to attract investment. In addition, prices must be kept high which re ption to exceed production. This in turn requires the continual creation of a state of desire throug ment of a more or less permanent system of scarcity - which, of course is supported by the low wages an yment of the workers. This process is accentuated by the global mobility of capital, which allows transna ies to locate production in countries where wages are historically pitiful, and where Trade Unions are repr rnational Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (both controlled by Western political systems) then r
  23. 23. AINTAINING SOCIAL ORDER hout the world, the people most affected by these ons are the already-poor, ethnic minorities and ous people. All people of colour and ethnic minorities ystemic experience of police harassment and brutality. high profile cases in Los Angeles and elsewhere only o indicate that such instances are not unique but are part attern of institutionalised oppression that has continues he 15th Century down to the present. The repression is cally aimed at the unemployed and low-paid, because it who must be coerced into accepting the economic ions that support high profits. tion, to encourage investment, nation states must reduce s by providing a stable social environment. To do this neously with unemployment creation and Trade Union ion requires repressive measures. er to maintain social order in the face of mounting tion to these austere economic circumstances and s, the State must continually increase its spending on and Order” - that is, social control. At home the (US) ment spends more money on police, prisons and the e” system. In all of the leading developed countries in estern World, (including New Zealand) the number of
  24. 24. POVERTY CREATION st mythologies maintain that there is no essential relationship between and poverty, that within the free-market it is possible to create wealth a cost to anyone, that the creation of wealth is a personal achievement with tive consequences. Against this, Socialists note that the creation of wealth the creation of a corresponding poverty. That under Capitalism, the of poverty is an essential prerequisite for the creation of wealth, that yment and low wages are a necessary part of high profits, and are created tain investment and production. The two photographs were take than 100 metres apart in the Fin District of San Francisco - one wealthiest cities in the World. On t is the landscaped seating area to the lunching executives. Abov
  25. 25. omotion of a Global (Free Market) Economy continues cess of colonisation down to the present. It is aimed at ing multi-national companies with the conditions for ed profit creation. It is theorised that by reducing ate or business taxes, investment will be stimulated, eating jobs and improving the economic well-being of neral public. The major question for minorities or ous peoples is precisely what kinds of jobs are ? For them, the answer is usually jobs at the lower end economic scale. Furthermore, in order to increase , it is important to have cheaper labour, so that workers d less. For workers to accept this, there has to be a large of available labour, so that demand for work exceeds . This requires a large pool of unemployed as a isite for higher profits. It also requires massive ents in roads, electricity generation etc, which requires overseas borrowing - placing the country in debt and ng increased personal taxation. Multi-national nies threaten to take their business elsewhere unless ments comply with their needs.The imposition of racy in today’s American Empire closely parallels the tion of Christianity in the past. Its purpose is not, as to free the people from tyranny, but to open up new s that have accepted Western values and tastes for the
  26. 26. DOWN HEORY myth of the free-market global omy is that this profits will tually “trickle down” to the poor. because the multi-national anies are based elsewhere, and the power to insist on reduced ion, lower wages and so on, they lly bleed the local economy of its omic resources, making the rich r (relatively) and the poor poorer. r demonstrations have taken place l of the G7 meetings of the world omic leaders who are promoting the market. Most adversely affected by ree market are indigenous peoples use their property rights (real and lectual) have not been protected by ties from appropriation by others.
  27. 27. PEACE OFFICER itment of law enforcement personnel also increases, and with high unemployment, the number of ble for this work helps to maintain a relatively low-wage workforce in the military and law enforce ies. Advertising in the public media becomes increasingly vivid and often farcical appealing to those elem lence that are emerging in the frustrated high-unemployment culture . The irony of maintaining peace a of a gun seems to have eluded this advertising agency. Nevertheless, the subtext of the image is clearly o control in an environment of danger and violence - conditions created and exacerbated by the econ ities created by government policies intent on maintaining low wages brought about in part by an adheren eology of the free market which supports and enhances the global mobility of capital .
  28. 28. e same time that it is spending increasing nts on domestic social control, through sed recruitment the State is also required to much more on its global hegemony, to e the safety and property interests of its own nationals overseas, and to also ensure the uing availability of cheap natural resources abour for its industries. The most typical t example has been the United States on of Iraq and its threatened military ention in Iran, to ensure continuing US s and ownership of Middle East oil rces. chart on the right shows the changes sion) in Human Resource and military ing in the USA under Ronald Reagan. This time of unprecedented unemployment and lessness, with more than 10 million homeless e living on the streets of the wealthiest nation planet. s unemployment increases in the private sector, so do employment opportunities become increasingly ava military and the police forces. So it is, that once again, it is predominantly the poor and working class ar
  29. 29. 0s in America, the increased privatisation of the the public domain and increased militarism was attributed nquer communism. Anti-Communism had animated U.S. domestic and foreign policy since the second ad reached its most rabid form in the McArthyism of the 1950s and the Cold War of the 1960s. More ge , colonisation and dispossession are attributed to the necessity for progress - to the striving for a ”. Looking back over history, it is difficult not to ask “better for whom?” When one nation controls mo anetary resources, while increasing millions drop below poverty indices or die of starvation, while resour
  30. 30. CRIMINALITY???? l of this, the question arises, “Who are the real criminals” Critical theorists go further. They ask, “Who de inality? It is never the poor! Hence white-collar or corporate crime is dealt with much more leniently i ts, although it may have a much deeper and wider social impact. Criminality is defined through the law ts and Parliament. These are the agencies of the State. The State defines criminality, and its definiti ed by the needs of the dominant culture. Chief amongst its criteria is the protection of private property, w
  31. 31. evailing belief is that the State operates in the interests of the whole of society, acting as a neutral ref n competing social and cultural groups. This belief is not backed up by a critical look at history. It y constructed myth. Rather, the State is not a neutral entity, but is the arm and instrument of the domi . It’s role is to maintain dominant cultural power by maintaining the myth of neutrality. The myth serve the people into compliance with the constitutional framework (the Law) which has been initiated and sha dominant culture itself. Its agencies are headed by the elite, its values are the values of the elite and es most benefit the elite. This is most evident in countries that have been colonised, like New Zeal
  32. 32. w Zealand, for instance, the State has continually made hanged laws that benefit to colonising European culture enalises Maori, the tangata whenua. This is true whether ok at issues of •Land confiscations •Educational funding •Curriculum development •Language protection etc. •Parliamentary legislation is because the dominant pakeha culture and the tangata ua have two different constitutional realities. Maori believe he Treaty of Waitangi established a partnership. The n believes that it established a system of control. Its ed control was already inscribed in the 1840 Treaty, the English version specifically omits to mention the der of Rangatiratanga (Chiefly Authority), only natanga (Governance). ld be comforting to think that all of these examples were ical, But the colonisation persists. Recently, in Education, hen Maori are beginning to access tertiary study in cedented numbers, the Crown has changed the funding to stem the flow. And just when the Courts found that i might have a case to present in their quest for recognition tive Title over the foreshore and seabed, the Government
  33. 33. text for the confiscation of the Foreshore abed was the preservation of “the good” - guaranteed public access to ealand’s beaches and foreshore. But on on public access had never been y Maori, and in fact they had indicated illingness to guarantee such access ves in the event that their claims were course to “the common good” is a key in the “democratic” oppression of all es. In New Zealand, the record of State ion of Maori is well documented. e institution of the Maori seats in Parliament to prevent the advent of a majority of Maori MPs since sea to land ownership title and increasing numbers of Maori were beginning to attain individual title to their la e original land confiscations (and the subsequent and ironic transformation of Maori Education to produce kers to serve on the farms they had once owned). e eviction of Ngati Whatua from Orakei Marae to remove “the eyesore” for the Queen’s ceremonial drive aki drive in 1952. test developments in Education, the government has limited the number of possible Wananga to three, larg the status of the Universities. When, in 2005, it became clear that the Wananga were hugely success ging Maori into tertiary study (something successive governments had said was needed for fifty years) o restrict their growth by changing funding criteria “in the common (economic) good”. In all of this, the
  34. 34. writing of history to favour the victors, every sphere of dge is brought into play - Science, Art, the Humanities etc. process of colonisation and dispossession Anthropology was emphasise the superiority of the colonising culture, Science ed to measure this superiority through Eugenics, the Law ed (and still is!) to legalise confiscations and dispossessions, urch was used to impose alien cosmologies, the Press was nd still is!) to vilify and dehumanise the colonised as in this (right) from the Taranaki Punch of 1860. And Art was used anticise the process of oppression as in this painting (below) tish military artist Orlando Norie, depicting the 14th Foot to Pa attack in 1863 as rebel-punishment.
  35. 35. SOCIETY speaking, the State is that agency that has over the constitutional forms by which is structured and shaped - the Government. ols the Armed Services and the Police by attempts to “maintain social order”. These only as a last resort, when its capacity to and persuade has been diminished or The use of the police or armed services is f hegemonic failure. Preferably, the State upon Civil Society to maintain its control public and private agencies that shape pinion through communication - in this e media, portraying Tipene O’Regan as n unrealistic dreamer or a greedy land- . Lost in this cover, is any mention of the mana whenua experienced by generations Tahu. Media coverage of Maori demands ly portray them as unreasonable,
  36. 36. TREATY SETTLEMENTS ause the official History of New Zealand has been written by the Crown and its racist supporters, a ause this history has been disseminated throughout the schools and media of the Nation, most N landers are woefully unaware of the actual acts of oppression that were committed by the State on Maori herefore easy to portray claims by Maori through the Treaty settlement process as both greedy a
  37. 37. this boils down to what sociologist William Ryan has called blaming the victim. If the victims of oppress nvinced that it is their own fault, then their resistance to further oppression can be cut off at the sourc s are doubly victimised by being made to feel inadequate in their inability to maintain their heal endence in the face of overwhelming oppression. This was particularly so with the confiscations, which d i of their productive capacity and reduced them to abject dependency on the State - for which they a ed of being dole bludgers, lazy, incompetent, lacking in entrepreneurial skills and/or industry. One has to on of where Maori might now stand, economically, socially and politically, had the confiscations never oc
  38. 38. concepts, theories and meanings ape our lives are socially ted. This is to say that ideas gs don’t have meanings in and selves but only those meanings given or ascribed. The power to aning - to name - is one of the owerful powers that exists it shapes all of our views and about the nature of the world. wer, the power to name is not istributed across society. Some als or organisations have all of the power, which they through Education, the Media, , and so forth. Education is a werful agency in the social tion of meaning. A related to naming is the power to te. e knowledge available in the world, only a small proportion is viewed as significantly valuable to soci to be included in curricula, published, displayed in museums and galleries etc. A great deal of knowl d from this kind of public recognition. Knowledge that is included is said to have been legitimated. U ities play a key role in the process of knowledge legitimation, because they have been able to estab
  39. 39. ALIENATION e system progresses, people become increasingly alienated from the processes that govern them, and the la e increasingly faceless and remote. In the process, self-esteem diminishes and people also become alien their own creative capacities. They become less able to empathise, to experience compassion and l dency, hopelessness and despondency begin to predominate. The State, for its own part increasin itive to the needs of its community, maintains that it is working to improve conditions for all of its citiz at the same time effecting policies which discriminate most severely against the poor and helpless. It is in
  40. 40. all of this struggle, it might appear that the dominant culture exerts irresistible power to subvert the dream tions of the oppressed. They own the media, they have powerful influence in Law and Government, they c urces and means of production and they shape what can be known through Education. But their hegem mplete. The oppressed persistently refuse to remain oppressed and their struggle for emancipation and mation is constant. Often,m they put their faith in Democratic leaders, only to be disappointed when ns later change their positions to remain in power. It remains, then to those whom Gramsci has called Or uals to offer guidance in the struggle for self-determination. Gramsci suggests that nearly all intellectuals ve in a moral and political vacuum. If they ever had social concerns they have given up for the status o ositions. Organic Intellectuals, on the other hand, are those intellectuals who come from oppressed cultures ucated themselves politically, socially and culturally, but who have retained their connection to their roo and desire for freedom for all. Such ones are rare, and are deeply loved by the people they serve. Th rised by their internal consistency. They walk their talk. Theirs is not necessarily the path of armed revo Guevara (centre). They can be pacifist like Mahatma Ghandi (right) or Martin Luther King (left), Eva R left) or Te Whiti o Rongomai (centre right). But what they all share, is that they are Activists. They do mor . They also engage in praxis - that is, potting their theories into practice in their own lives and in the
  41. 41. al Theory, this usually refers to the relationship between Theory and Practice they are mutually dependent and how they inform each other. Both Gramsci ire have theorised extensively about the relationship between theory and action. i spoke of the relationship between the feeling masses and the thinking elite, need for them to work in close co-operation with each other towards their emancipation - of the need for an integration of both thinking and feeling in the ment of a transformative process. But change comes not simply by either or feeling or through their combination, but through a relationship between and practice - praxis. Giroux, amongst others, has critiqued Gramsci’s g, and has suggested that everyone things - not just “intellectuals”. Thinking, ux, is not a special activity, but one that is woven into our everyday lives. at stake is not if we think, but how we think. Critical thinking becomes an sable component of social change. Freire put it this way: 's activity consists of action and reflection: it is praxis; it is transformation of ld. And as praxis it requires theory to illuminate it. Men's activity is theory and ; it is reflection and action. It cannot be reduced to either verbalism or ... a revolution is achieved with neither verbalism nor activism, but rather with that is, with reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed. olutionary effort to transform these structures radically cannot designate its as its thinkers and the oppressed as its doers.” rmative praxis, then. is about connecting thinkers and doers to their mutual nal benefit. This means in practice eschewing or transcending class boundaries

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