This is what ideological domination looks like.
How many times have you heard these arguments?
· “There will always be inequality and injustice.”
· “You’re too idealistic.”
· “Nothing will change.”
· “You’re throwing your life away for an impossible dream.”
· “You’ll end up in prison, or dead, for nothing.”
· “It’s not worth it.”
· “You can’t win.”
· “There’s no point.”
· “It’s time to grow up.”
From family members, friends, co-workers, meddling strangers. Even the Bible argues, “The poor you will always have with you.”
This is ideological class struggle.
It’s repeated in countless ways all around us, every day.
You can’t live without me, commerce asserts—I feed you. Competition is natural, says science. Shut up and obey, snarls Homeland Security. Don’t complain, says your supervisor. Advertising reassures us that the latest pill or consumer item will make us forget the pain. The talking heads of corporate media decide for us what matters and what doesn’t. The entire weight of this culture whispers without pause into our ears: “The way things are will always be.”
The multitudinous voices for the status quo jabber so relentlessly that we start to believe that they’re coming from inside our own heads. Not only do we refrain from taking action; many of us even dissuade others from doing so.
Are these arguments true? At least partly—that’s why they’re so convincing. Social change is indeed difficult. Revolution is a long shot, with an uncertain outcome. It requires hard work, determination, and often sacrifice. Even then, there are no guarantees.
However, they’re also partly not true.
Many well-intentioned people justify inaction by allowing themselves to be convinced that nothing can be done. But if they were honest, they would admit that even if something could be done, they still wouldn’t stick their necks out. Especially if the results aren’t guaranteed. To act, and possibly (or probably) fail, is not worth risking whatever level of comfort and security they currently enjoy.
Heartless as that calculation may seem, it’s not wholly irrational. Why would you throw yourself at the machine and possibly lose your freedom, or even your life, and make your family suffer, if it has only a slight chance of accomplishing anything?
Really, why would you? Why does anyone?
· Because we can’t go on this way.
· Because it’s right.
· Because our human dignity depends on it.
· Because if we don’t, the alternative will be worse.
· Because there is that chance.
Without people willing to stick their necks out, the United States would still have slavery. Women wouldn’t be allowed out of the house. The fourteen-hour workday would be the norm. The United States military would still be killing people across the world—oh wait.
Nothing changes, until people decide to make change happen. Until we decide to act, even if the odds are against us.
Silence those voices pushing submission and resignation. Raise our own.