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The Dominant Ideology

The Dominant Ideology

By Dennis Loo (7/1/18)

The PTB rule not only through their use of force, they also rule by their dominance over ideas. People have a set of ideas that are drummed into them from the time they are little; they hear that same set of ideas constantly in popular culture, from political figures, and even from most of their teachers. These ideas are so pervasive by now that even among those who are explicitly opposed to the PTB tend to end up relying upon those same ideas somewhere in their opposition.

To cite one example: no wonder that it seems worthless to try something different in social arrangements, if it’s “human nature” to be selfish. If before you start you think you will eventually end up where you started; why go through all that trouble, if you are doomed to end up with some version of the status quo!

Yet the bourgeois version of reality is hopelessly skewed and riddled with self-contradictions. It’s not as if there are plenty examples that you can point to that buttress their version; there are. But as a guiding philosophy that you actually live your life by, it’s wrong.

First, let’s make an important distinction: the dominant set of ideas is truly what most people believe. If you ask them, nearly all will tell you that it’s human nature to be selfish and greedy. But - and it’s an important and decisive but – most of them don’t live their lives that way most of the time. This includes those who who ardently argue that we create our reality; they too act as if there is an objective world outside of their consciousness that they must abide by. They couldn’t otherwise. Recall what your parents taught you from early on and made sure you learned so well that it’s unconscious and ingrained: say “thank you” and “please,” and “you’re welcome.” Why do parents, if they are halfway decent people, all teach this lesson, over and over? So you will get along with others; so you won’t be isolated.

If the majority were actually doing what the bourgeoisie tells us is true about human nature most of the time, then we could not have society, we could not have sports or games, we could not have inventions, most of fiction would disappear for lack of a plot, so too, much of Hollywood, plays, music, and opera would go away because we are convinced that attempts to go against what we believe are the odds are fruitless.

What happens to people who don’t say “thank you” to those who help them? And yet such ungrateful people are supposedly acting in accordance with the essence of “human nature,” at least according to the neoliberals. They instead are quickly socially isolated. We ostracize such people because we do in fact mostly get along with each other and we cooperate, even if most people don’t believe in it! One facet of this belief is the idea that we are really being selfish when we are doing things for others. That is a bunch of baloney!

Public officials would no longer make a rhetorical claim they were following “the public interest,” since no such thing could be said to exist. They claim that they must offer a lot of material incentives (such as high salaries to university presidents) to get the best people. How do they supposedly define the best people? Those who pursue the public interest but only if you offer them a lot of money! Do you see the contradiction here?

Listen to Margaret Thatcher tell it:

“And, you know, there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours." – from an interview in Woman’s Own magazine in 1987.

The neoliberals like Thatcher and Ronald Reagan claim, on the hand, that the public interest and that thing that sociologists study, society, does not exist, and on the other hand, they claim that they are acting in the public interest. They can’t have it both ways. Unlike the Smithean notion that collective individualized selfishness = the best of all worlds, neoliberal philosophy is at its heart, wrong and irrational. With their ideas in command, they have made a mess of things, and very well may ruin the earth.

Far, far better that the set of ideas running things correspond with what is actually true, rather than our being guided by the wrong ideas as we are now, with Trump and with his narcissistic jingoism in the lead.

Tell me and show me how you can have sports competition unless they first and foremost have cooperation. Tell me that five players per side on an agreed upon sized court and two baskets of equal and consistent height, with referees that everyone agrees they will abide by, even if you disagree with their calls, in an agreed upon format of the first team to win four individual games, even if by a single point, to decide who gets the trophy and who does not. Show me any game anywhere that does not actually rest first and foremost on cooperation.

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