Don’t support the troops

Ideology is such a sneaky thing. It is comprised of beliefs that we do not know that we hold. It sets the parameters for the questions that we do ask while it, itself, is typically beyond question. Since we come to questions with a framework of thought — a set of parameters — we are automatically funneled toward some conclusions and fail to even fathom other conclusions.

By taking any particular belief and working backwards, figuring out what must hold true for that belief to hold true, we can single out implicit belief. That is, we can figure out what we must have been assuming to be true in virtue of holding some belief. In short, we can excavate our ideology. We can find those views that we simply assumed before and begin to question them.

This is the beginning of liberation. No other method could be.

Where do our implicit beliefs come from? We simply adopt them from our surroundings. Of course, allegedly smart people like to fancy themselves to be above this, but this mistake is so childish and absurd that upon reflection, no reasonable person would maintain it.

One clear and ridiculous example arises from our lifelong bombardment with the question, “Do you support the troops?” The question itself contains volumes of factual assumptions. But after we are asked it again and again, naturally we accept the question. We answer it. It is not at all obvious that a question presented to us might be false. Especially since we are presented with such questions during childhood, we become apt to continue to accept them and their corollaries in our formative political years.

The “support the troops” question contains such obviously bad assumptions that most readers have probably picked up on its falsity already. It forces us to support the war, because if we don’t support the war, then we don’t support the troops, which means we do not care if they are killed in combat. So we must support the war, because we certainly could not hope that these people die. The question forces us into a framework in which we cannot separate out relevant ideas. We can’t think. This is an elementary example. Others are far less obvious.

Since the elite classes, as my analyses frequently rely upon, have the greatest influence over which information is most prevalent, the framework of thought that we adopt via bombardment throughout our youth is crafted to uphold their interests.

So, what are some of these sneaky assumptions that the elite classes have created as bounds upon our thought? This question yields so much information that one could make a career of answering it, and people have. We could start anywhere, with any thought.

One illuminating and unusual bit of ideology comes from asking the question, “What is society?” There is a definite answer supplied by the strongly pro-capitalist dialogue imposed by major media and the shockingly abundant, well-funded right wing think tanks that poison the information sphere. Society, as is implied by their discourse, is merely a bunch of individuals making choices. This is what you want it to be, if you want to argue for capitalism.

If society is just individuals making choices, then who are you to stop them? That would infringe on their liberty, argues the capitalist. The whole argument is now framed in such a way as to advantage one side — the capitalist side — and this is no accident. It is the result of natural selection of institutions that craft information in a way as to uphold their power interests.

If we accept implicit beliefs of this type, then we will naturally conclude that the view that privileges power is right. In this case, the power-privileging view is capitalism. Many of the implicit beliefs that dominate our information sphere are pro-capitalist. If we unravel even a few of them, the irreparable flaws of capitalism become transparent.

So is the pro-capitalist conception of what constitutes society correct or even remotely tenable? No. When people work in institutions such as corporations, they have the single goal of maximizing profits. When the society is comprised of institutions geared to reach single goals, they naturally take actions that have other effects.

Our society is comprised of such institutions, who craft the society in ways that no single individual in the institution intends. The society is not comprised of individuals making choices. It is comprised of institutions acting in their interests.

The issue of what constitutes a society is a complex one. However, when we look at the imposed assumption, it should be clear that we have been given an answer that empowers elite groups. Every concept that we have should be examined to remove such pro-power ideology. Once we take this step, the next step toward anti-capitalism becomes obvious and easy.

BRIAN MOEN thinks that we should keep “God” in the pledge and get rid of the pledge with God in it. He can be reached at bkmoen@ucdavis.edu.

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