- Governance - Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions - Three Protagonists Discourse Justice

New World Order

Corrupt incentives drive people’s contribution to the public discourse. Politicians, businessmen, financiers, are all guilty. The discourse no longer represents an honest viewpoint of reality, the dominant slogans on TV and radio are a designed smoke-screen to hide the real structure, decision-making, and motives at play in the world of economic policy, legislation, and campaigning. The derangement in  economics, political deceit, and social manipulation is reaching unrecognizable proportions. Popular culture is responsible for making itself gullible to such influence. Our society nurtures a desire to be entertained from childhood, cultivating generations eager to be led by priests, politicians, advertising, pop idols, and whoever proves skillful at appealing to superficial emotions. Hence the increasing efficiency with which political marriages to the finance sector manipulate mass perceptions in the electorate during campaign season and drive up consumer demand with commercial advertising. The world’s social, economic, and political Order is in an irreparable downward spiral. Nothing can salvage it except a broad reconceptualization of our fundamental conceptions of society, self, government, global interdependence, the rule of Justice and Law, the reviving of the spirit of brotherhood in Religion, wide-scale increase in education and the free-flow of knowledge, robust discourse amongst the masses, self-sacrifice for unity, and a sense of  obedience to One Universal Cause.

Framing the problem and a plea to begin rethinking society’s fundamentals begins here with Professor David Harvey:

- Language - Science

Claims About Social Reality

The physical and material aspects of our complex reality are not the only ones with objectivity – the human mind is able to make objective statements about all of reality, including social and spiritual reality.  As an example related to social reality, one can claim that “one of the causes of violence in certain countries is pervasive social injustice”.  This statement contains a relationship between two observable phenomena, namely violence – demonstrated by crimes like robbery, murder, assault, and by increased need for police, security, and gated homes – and social injustice – shown by analyzing conditions of certain segments of the population, and interactions of certain groups of people with social institutions.  One can then observe societies to see if there is a positive correlation between the two.  Of course, correlation is not causation, but the statement claims that injustice is “one” of the causes, and therefore has some degree of objectivity to it.

One point to note is that objectivity is not synonymous with truth.  Furthermore, subjective statements can easily be presented as objective.  For instance, consider a hypothetical situation of a doctor who hires poor employees and pays them low wages, who sees poor people as patients and charges them high prices for unnecessary medical testing, and works in a system that blocks their progress.  This person would not make the subjective statement “I like to profit off poor people”.  Instead, this person would make the objective claim “poor people are lazy and uneducated and therefore stay poor”.  Because objectivity can be tested, it should be straightforward.  However, an observer can be biased by his or her own subjective judgements.  For instance, he might see that his family members worked hard and then became wealthy, or that a lazy person lost his job and became poor, or even notice a poor person who was also lazy.  From these limited, yet objective, observations, the observer would accept the claim that the poor are lazy.

However, a more thorough analysis will reveal this statement false.  Hard work is not the only factor in the generation of wealth – it also includes starting capital, access to credit, technical knowledge, fair wages, and a somewhat just social structure.  All of these factors need be to examined and controlled for if one is to scientifically and objectively link work to wealth; and even observations need to be made about the resulting amount of work done when opportunities are given to the poor.  It becomes clear that subjective prejudgements about social reality, often false, can be disguised as objective.

Can you think of other statements that pass as objective, yet in reality are subjective?


- Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions Development Power

Exploitation and Oppression

The processes of development have adopted values driven by economic growth, values that often view all things as means to a narrow-minded end, values that reduce an individual’s identity to a producer, consumer, and coveter of goods, values that reduce human virtue to economic goods. The underlying assumptions and values of the materialistic enterprise have ended up characterizing development efforts and relationships as exploitative and oppressive.

One of the most obvious examples is humanity’s relationship with nature. It seems as though there is a competition between nations to destroy ecosystems with greater and greater swiftness in their attempt to sap as much output in the shortest amount of time, completely disregarding any requirements beyond the present. Little wonder that the state of health is in a crisis, as air and water are poisoned to produce the same shoes that one wears to the emergency room. If endless material acquisition is the goal, then why shouldn’t the planet’s resources be drained?

The relationship of the individual and the institutions of society is another example. Individuals, groups, and societies are fed manipulations of their identity so that corporations can profit. They are denied self-knowledge, and thus are grievously oppressed – in fact, the system depends on demoralized and self-serving individuals who have no sense of collective responsibility. They view their own human capacities for good, for honesty, for cooperation, all in terms of economic profit or loss – thus, their own spiritual potentialities become relative and subservient to economic growth.

Even relations among individuals become exploitative and oppressive. There is a constant power struggle between classes, races, ranks, and statuses; “how much can I gain from another” becomes the dominating question in the workplace, education, the social scene, and even romantic relationships. Others are seen as means to one’s end. And then people are perplexed as to why friendship and marriage have become so superficial and so difficult.

Exploitation and oppression are inherent features of the materialistic view of human reality. How does a spiritual understanding of human nature change the dynamics and characteristics of development and relationships?

- Equality of Women and Men Justice

Half the Human Race

Equality of men and women is a fundamental truth about human nature, not a social utility that is agreed upon, regardless of the motive. This equality is based on the reality of a human being – spiritual reality – which has no sex. Thus, equality of men and women is an already existing spiritual truth, which is relatively latent and slowly being increasingly expressed in social reality. At this point, as humanity is transitioning to maturity, full equality between men and women is an evolutionary imperative. It demands change in human consciousness as well as in social structures; it implies that men and women can contribute together to the advancement of civilization.

This achievement requires the recognition of two facts: 1) Women have historically been at a disadvantage; 2) The equality of women and men is still not established in society.

Our current structures of society and thought are modern reflections of centuries-old conventions to maintain women in an inferior position. The state of women, therefore, is oppressed. What does it mean to be oppressed? A previous post defined oppression as denial to access of knowledge. In this case, women have been denied knowledge, not only of the world, but more importantly, of their selves.

Perpetual lack of self-knowledge has allowed society to perpetuate harmful attitudes which carry into all arenas of social life. Women are objects of masculine conceptions, their purpose is secondary to men, and even historically, their accomplishments have been contingent on men – as mothers, daughters, wives, and lovers.

There are no grounds on which to perpetuate injustice against half the human race. Humanity’s advancement will continue to be stunted if women are unable to contribute to it’s development; if they are not able to be empowered through self-knowledge, to understand their true nature and capacities, and exercise power in cooperative and constructive means. To these ends, society needs structures – social, mental, economic, governmental – that facilitate the self-knowledge of women and bring out their latent potentialities.

Development Justice

Justice and Human Potential

Viewing justice as a latent potential of the human soul liberates us from the guilt which can so easily disempower the protagonists of social transformation.  In the same way that our physical capacities emerge over time, such as the ability to walk and talk, our spiritual capacities are in the process of development.  A child has to exert consistent effort to become literate, to overcome the inertia that would otherwise deprive her of this capacity.  Loving parents and a loving community spur the child forward to achieve her potential and at the same time recognize that the child will only be able to read literature over time and with encouragement.  Individually and collectively, our capacity for justice is emergent and attainable.

With these assumptions, what attitudes might we adopt towards injustice?  What qualities might we strive to cultivate in ourselves and encourage in others?

- Oppression - Prevailing Conceptions Justice Knowledge


Let us take advertising as an example of social forces that cause oppression through distortion of self-knowledge.  Advertising, a euphemism for propaganda, mutilates our conceptions of reality.  Images presented to youth, at a time of rising self-awareness, present unattainable goals and appearances that create an endless struggle for self-confidence.  A real girl’s purpose is to attract men.  A real man is defined by physical power.  Sexuality is the center of existence.  All of a sudden, a commercial draws a conclusion between a bike helmet and romance; between a brand of shoes and a one-night stand; between a certain snack food and finding the love of your life.

The idea behind advertising is to create a culture to which one desires to belong.  Increasingly, teenagers are categorized according to attitudes towards which products can be catered.  Advertisers link their product with whatever culture this teenager identifies with, and symbolizes it with happiness.  A studious youth is sold state-of-the-art books and study aids that promise to bring them happiness through out-competing their peers academically.  A rebellious youth is offered unique and shunned earrings to fulfill their desires to be non-comformist.  Even an environmentally-conscious youth is targeted for t-shirts that state “yay recycling” – t-shirts that have ironically been made at a factory that pollutes the environment.

Manipulative and self-interested social forces are pervasive.  They maintain ignorance and propagate injustice.  Only through empowerment in knowledge can they be overcome.