I’m reading the feminist controversy over THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS, and I’m reading respondents who urge that it is “natural” for boys to want to read books without girls on the cover, and, finally, indeedy I am thinking, “Yes, of course — the western obsession with self-image over almost anything else!”
NO, you are not dangerous if you will not read a book with a girl on the cover — and I’m so sorry that mummy and daddy conditioned you to feel that way. You are actually a cookie-cutter boy, created in the dank factory of western culture. Needless to say, there is no virtue in this. Your predictabilities are already known — for instance, that you will not read a book with a girl on the cover! You are NOT FREE to make your own choices and decision about life — these have already been made for you, on the basis of what is known about your predictable behaviour guided by your interest in your own self image.
And westerners — and indeed, now, you yourself — would have you believe that this is merely being ‘natural’! Ah! Don’t fret, little victim — you have already learned to love your prison of predictability!!
When I was doing my teaching practicuum — an experience in which I failed, spectacularly, I found a major psychological impediment to be my inability to consider the students to be people like me. Above all, I wanted them to resist my ideas at times, in order to show their fighting spirit, which is to say, their underlying intelligence — which might be different from mine. I didn’t find this spirit, however — which was an outcome shocking and disturbing to me!
The monitor, from the university, therefore found my
approach to teaching “highly paradoxical” because I alternated between being very strict and also tending to very much encouraging free action.
I’d wanted to impart a sense of relation to authority
which was capable of being very independent OR conforming, according to one’s personal strategies. Yet, I found this characteristic difficult to impart to because of the already well developed Modernistic character structure of my
One of the most significant aspects about the training and
education of a Modern is that this training dispenses with that which used to be a part of traditional education systems — the training to resist.
For the modern, he is who he is and that’s all there is too that. He’s pretty pleased with how he is, too — he thinks the way he is to be “universal”.
This presupposition, of course, makes it difficult for him to relate to those of other cultures — a reality that he generally fails to register! His capacity to resist the imposition of control from the outside, especially control by ideological forces, is very limited. He is manipulated by Skinnerian behaviouristic techniques, and therefore fails to see the manipulation for what it is — this is at the basic level of schooling. He is educated only to the sufficient level that is required for the position in society for which he is being groomed (See Louis Althusser).
THe Modern student is also “allowed” to progress through his
education at his own pace (student centred education), as if he were wise enough to manage it himself — thus he is conditioned to choose the path of least resistance in life as the “natural one” (See Nietzsche: “The hand that kills with leniency”.) He is trained especially to be a dully conformist worker and a mere consumer.
Unlike the eastern or african variations of authoritarianism, western authoritarianism is coy — it just doesn’t like to declare itself for what it is.
It is actually much worse than these other varieties. You can tell when someone is going authoritarian on you because they actually stop acting like a human being. Suddenly, the human being in them ceases. There is not so much as even the pretence to be human any longer. The machine takes over.
This machine is called Skinnerian behaviourism. It is supposed to work as an impersonal mechanism on you in order to get you to do what the authoritarian wants. The authoritarian dissociates his own personality from this mechanical system of leverage which he or she seeks to employ. The western authoritarian is morally coy, and doesn’t like to see himself or herself as using their personality to dominate you. The western authoritarian dissociates their personality from human sensitivies, thus allowing them to operate in a nasty way, on behalf of the social order whilst feeling pure and unaffected in what they still mistakingly take to be their separatable self.
The western authoritarian will not take the trouble to ask you to do something because “this is what the system expects.” No such honesty or directness is attempted, as a rule. Rather, he or she will use Skinnerian behaviourism to attempt to impress upon you that “Reality itself” demands that you behave a certain way. Thus, this type of authoritariansm is potentially much more insidious and damaging than any direct humanising use of personal authority (which, by appearing to be contingent rather than absolute can be rejected more easily by the dominatee.)
Western authoritarianism is as common as can be — but it is hard for some people to see because its thousands of adherents reject the term, “authoritarianism”, as if this feature of civilisation belonged to the past. The opposite is the case! Authoritarianism has merely mutated into a stronger form in the west, and dug itself in beneath the level of social consciousness or awareness.
Having lived under a different kind of authoritarianism (a more honest kind, perhaps), I have always felt inwardly sick whenever some authoritarian robot has sought to apply its behaviouristic leverage on to me. The reality of this cowardly failure to engage in direct communication with me has never escaped me. Rather, when a western robot ceases to address me as a human being, I don’t see the transcendence of the system working through them. I just see someone non-human, who has felt free to cast my humanity aside.