Saturday, December 3, 2011

Heather Gautney, Sociologist describes the Occupy Movement

"An idea whose time has come."

Heather Gautney is a professor and sociologist at Fordham University. I attended her classes in undergrad, and was pleasantly surprised to find her reflections on the movement making into the press. Actually, she has written about anti-globalist movements for years. Check out the rest of the article if you found it interesting. Here's a snippet:

Unlike protests organized by centralized movement organizations or political parties, in which placards and message tend to be standard, Occupy protests involve a broad diversity of groups, movements and messages, in keeping with its identity as a movement of "The 99 Percent." Such events are crucial to the continued visibility and spread of the movement, but only insofar as they remain contentious, and not riotous.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Illusion of Boundaries; Mexico and the United States

William Irwin Thompson wrote, "We live in a culture we do not see."As an old age passes and a new consciousness emerges, we often "comfort people by performing the past and affirming it so that you can ease the transition into a radical new consciousness." While the news is talking about the legitimate side of this battle with laws and illegal trespassing, the truth is the US and Mexico have a far more dependent relationship. They are already united, unconsciously, in a planetary civilization that legitimate conscious government has yet to ease itself into.

Like any consciousness, there is a light side and a dark side. Because we have yet to integrate the darker nature of a global capitalism, it rises up in situations like Mexican immigration. By ignoring the dependency of US business upon cheap, illegal workers, and instead focusing on illegal trespassing, we are effectively treating the symptoms without getting to a deep wound in our capitalist system.

We no longer live in an age with neat, closed borders and sovereign nation-states with their private industries. Even though that's how the argument is being composed, that time has long since passed. We live in an age where multinational corporations have effectively done away with traditional national industries. Corporations extend beyond any one country, and often pull the strings of the local governments, just like ancient Empires allowed for local-rule. The United State's recent supreme court decision to consider corporations as people is case in point.

The US is one of the major benefactors of globalization. Many US businesses have out competed the third world for crops and industry. The shadow side of capitalism is that it only looks for efficiency, not environment. So we have huge corporations that swallow smaller countries whole, and then use their impoverished state as a kind of serfdom. What we have going on in Mexico is exactly this "unconscious," dimension of modern capitalism rising to the surface. Mexico is poor, and kept poor. It can't compete with the US for industry, nor is it allowed to. We take full advantage of their desperate state and use illegal immigrants off the books. Cheap labor, dispensable, dime a dozen. Those who hire illegal workers are kept safe, while the "serfs" themselves are always the scapegoat.

Yet in the media the issue is framed as one of legitimacy: trespassing, authentication of citizenship, taking our jobs, etc. All of these things are on the surface, meant to entertain us in with the questions of keeping a "nation's borders secure." Meanwhile there is a shadow current that depends on it being wide open. Like any shadow that has not been integrated, it appears in the form of other. So we have the collective psyche disowning its own shadow. When that goes on long enough, our shadows appear in the form of "other" bubbling up to the surface, and we lash out at it. You can see how Americans lashing out at Mexican immigrants recapitulates this dance between the conscious and the unconscious. So when we talk about putting up larger walls and forcing Mexican-Americans to carry their green cards, we are really talking about the collective suppression of shadow capitalism.

We are now at the stage where there is an unconscious form of shadowed integration, where we are living in a planetary culture, but we are trying to describe it and weigh it and measure it in all the systems of consciousness of industrial values, industrial structures and industrial nation-states. This creates an incredible cognitive dissonance.

This dissonance is obvious if we look at how these corporations have long since usurped, and now manipulate provincial legalities. The dance between Conservative and Liberal is a farce. Big Government is a phantom with little power over the Bigger Corporations.

If we don't want this whole system to collapse under us, we have to begin to allow these unconscious realities come to conscious light, put aside the dancing puppets who are meant to comfort us on the media, and begin to really talk about how this can change. Alongside multinational corporations has thankfully come something else. The internet age is a powerful tool, because it forces transparency and open-access to knowledge. News can go viral and grassroots in a matter of minutes, spreading across the globe. So these new serfdoms and global elites have in fact, sewn the seeds for their own destruction, and if we allow the internet to continue its role in rendering the shadows into the light, we may see a brighter future indeed.

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    open source sociology by Jeremy Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
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