I love how one things always seems to connect to another. This weekend I was talking to a friend about what happens when an essentially problematic system tries to incorporate progressive ideas into the existing system without fundamentally altering the system itself. This reminded me of an article I posted some time ago by Slavoj Zizek, "Nobody Has to Be Vile," in which he compares liberal capitalists like Bill Gates and George Soros to chocolate flavored laxatives:
"There is a chocolate-flavoured laxative available on the shelves of US stores which is publicised with the paradoxical injunction: Do you have constipation? Eat more of this chocolate! – i.e. eat more of something that itself causes constipation. The structure of the chocolate laxative can be discerned throughout today’s ideological landscape; it is what makes a figure like Soros so objectionable. He stands for ruthless financial exploitation combined with its counter-agent, humanitarian worry about the catastrophic social consequences of the unbridled market economy.Then I come across this passage in Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed:
"Any attempt to "soften" the power of the oppressor in deference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifests itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this. In order to have the continued opportunity to express their "generosity," the oppressors must perpetuate injustice as well. An unjust social order is the permanent fount of this "generosity," which is nourished by death, despair, and poverty. That is why the dispensers of false generosity become desperate at the slightest threat to its source."
"True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the "rejects" of life," to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands - whether of individuals or entire peoples - need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world."
This is the greatest threat I see facing the world today. Society seems to have given up on the idea of an alternative to the dominant system and has settled on trying to give it a more human face. Rather than working towards the ellimination of oppression, we seek to give everyone the opportunity to become an oppressor themselves and to ease the suffering of the oppressed just enough to keep the system from complete collapse and to unburden those who gain from the suffering of others of the guilt they might otherwise be forced to feel. Until we realize this on an individual and a collective level, we will not have any real positive change.