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Are We Slaves?


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#41 Cybilopsin

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 03:11 AM

The fact is I can quit my job anytime I want, and the only outcome is, if I run out of money, I loose my house.  But it is my choice and therefore I am free to make that choice if I want to.  But if I want to keep my house then I must work to pay for it.

 

...

 

Another example might be "Hey, I should get 15 dollars an hour flipping hamburgers!" Not if it is not worth 15 dollars an hour because nobody is going to pay 15 dollars for a hamburger... "But the big fast food company has lots of money, they can afford to pay me 15 dollars an hour!" Not if it is not worth 15 dollars an hour and they can take the same money they were paying you and buy a robot that can do your job...  The problem is there are jobs worth 15 or 150 or 1500 dollars an hour, if you want that much, work you way up to that level and don't let anything stand in your path.  Others have done, why not you?

 

 Don't see how that's any kind of freedom, except by definition. Just sounds like slavery to the axiomatic of capitalism to me.

 

How is it decided what quantity of your work pays for a given commodity such as a house?

 

Edit: I reread Steampunk's full post and he already put the answer right there, its the encounter between capital (the hypothetical fast-food company that can afford to hire a robot to do your job if your wages get too high) and "free" workers that determines how many hours of work it takes you to pay for a house.

 

Of course, as Steampunk notes, you're also "free" to "work your way up" to a higher-paying job - by teaching yourself how to better serve the interests of the reproduction of capital (become a manager so you can be the one threatening to fire workers and replace them with robots; become a teacher so you can help obfuscate reality behind ideology; become a small businessman, with your own little pool of capital that will desert you if you do not play by its rules)... in short, you're free to either remain a "free worker", the bitch of capital, or to increase your "human capital", still remaining the bitch of capital but with a higher purchasing power which you can use to purchase goods that have been produced solely because capital finds them convenient as a means to reproduce itself.

 

Would you tell a poor sex worker, being prostituted and controlled by a vicious gang, that she is free to walk out the door at any time, she just has to deal with the consequences? How about women trapped in abusive marriages in small isolated communities, are they free to leave? How about gay men who are horrifically murdered in certain parts of this great country? Are they free to stay closeted, or get up and move away from everything they know? And the severely disabled, with no employability? They're free to live on tiny welfare checks, I guess. The ones with chronic illnesses whose medical costs are simply unpayable are free to die? Folks whose local air has become a toxic smog due to a nearby chemical plant - they're free to either get up and move away from the place they call home, or else stay and watch the local cancer rates skyrocket?

 

Freedom, indeed.


Edited by Cybilopsin, 29 December 2015 - 04:18 AM.

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#42 SillyCone

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 04:28 AM

Our freedom is definitely within.  And under threat.

 

Nah, no more than it always was, or at least has been for the last 2000 to 5000 years.

 

Mankind has been playing that game for so long it doesn't even remember it's all just a game...

 

Society is just the collective projection of our inner selves.

Nobody but yourself can threaten your inner freedom, aka freewill.

It's the one thing they can't take from you.

 

Remember : there is no spoon... ;)


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#43 Alder Logs

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 08:47 AM

If one's freedom has truly been found within, what could take it?  Only some belief or other which has seemingly removed what is true from one's view.  For even this believing does not remove the freedom.  It can only obscure it.  Freedom is always here to be discovered in this instant. It's never any place else but here.  Never in any time but now.  Freedom, like peace and love, is our baseline truth.  It is only in what we decide to believe about these and call, "reality," that we'll go so far as to cry and bitch about, even go to war about, all the while, we are holding this pearl of great value inside our being, where it always has been. 

 

So yes, the freedom is within.  The parameters threatening its taking are decided by us.


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#44 Cybilopsin

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 01:04 PM

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According to our common sense, we think that ideology should be somthing which is obscuring our 'straight view': Ideology should be glasses, which distort our view and the critique of ideology should be the opposite, like, you take off the glasses and you see things the way they really are.

 

This precisely (and here the pessimism of the film "They Live" is well justified), this precisely is the ultimate illusion. Idoelogy is not simply imposed on ourselves. Ideology is our spontaneous relationship to our social world, how we perceive and so on. We, in a way, enjoy our ideology. To step out of ideology, it hurts, it is a painful experience, you must force yourself to do it....

 

This is a paradox we must accept: the extreme violence of liberation. You must be forced to be free. If you trust simply your spontaneous sense of well-being or whatever, you will never get free. Freedom hurts.

-Slavoj Zizek


Edited by Cybilopsin, 29 December 2015 - 01:19 PM.

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#45 Alder Logs

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 02:08 PM

 

...the critique of ideology should be the opposite, like, you take off the glasses and you see things the way they really are.

 

I would take issue with the use of the word, "spontaneity," here.  Would not conditioning and ideology make true spontaneity impossible?  We believe we are being spontaneous when our beliefs make spontaneity step aside for our images of the world.  These images put true clarity out of reach.  It would only be the believer conditioning idea of self which would suffer violence for being free.  Little kids start out free and are taught to put on their own chains/glasses by every body snatching individual and group they encounter.  We all get the same treatment.  Taking off the glasses has to be our own urge. Our best friends will likely want to fight us when we start walking around without our glasses, or if ever we would suggest they might have such glasses on.  

 

So, from where does our urge for freedom come?    If one sees one's own ideological glasses, there comes the moment of choice.



#46 Alder Logs

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 05:31 PM

I logged back in when it hit me that spontaneity and freedom are synonyms.  Neither is true if both are not present.



#47 Juthro

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 05:36 PM

I thought freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose?

Did Janis lie to me?
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#48 Alder Logs

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 05:47 PM

I'd say that Janis didn't shit you in the least.  And since everything gotten is sure to be lost, why do we postpone seeing that we don't really have it to begin with.  All we believe and idealize to be is going away eventually.  If this intuition is taken to heart, we might see we can still have it at a level where it no longer has us, as without attachment. 

 

Beer is not the only thing you don't buy, but, in fact, only rent. 


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#49 Cybilopsin

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 07:52 PM


...the critique of ideology should be the opposite, like, you take off the glasses and you see things the way they really are.


I would take issue with the use of the word, "spontaneity," here. Would not conditioning and ideology make true spontaneity impossible? We believe we are being spontaneous when our beliefs make spontaneity step aside for our images of the world. These images put true clarity out of reach. It would only be the believer conditioning idea of self which would suffer violence for being free. Little kids start out free and are taught to put on their own chains/glasses by every body snatching individual and group they encounter. We all get the same treatment. Taking off the glasses has to be our own urge. Our best friends will likely want to fight us when we start walking around without our glasses, or if ever we would suggest they might have such glasses on.

So, from where does our urge for freedom come? If one sees one's own ideological glasses, there comes the moment of choice.

Zizek's whole point is that ideology isn't akin to putting on glasses, like society forces you to wear these ideology-glasses and then when you take off the glasses, you spontaneously see reality as it truly is.

The equation

1. ideology=glasses
2. reality=taking off glasses

is precisely what Zizek calls "the ultimate illusion". This is his point.According to him, its the other way around:

1. ideology=no glasses (spontaneous, easy)
2. reality=putting on glasses (painful, challenging)

In the film that he's analyzing (They Live, 1988) you see this. When you look at an advertisement without the glasses, which you thnk is reality, you just see an ad for a computer. When you put on the magic glasses ("critique-of-ideology glasses") you see the hidden reality which is masked by everyday spontaneity: the message of "obey". Thus the main character's friend who, of his own free will, violently rejects the option to put on the glasses. He's not being controlled by some exterior force; he just doesn't want to know the truth.

Children are a great example, since you brought it up. So you think children are spontaneously free? So why do children always gravitate towards playing games like "king of the hill", "battle", "cops and robbers", "cowboys and indians"? Its because games that are ideological are the most fun to play (until you lose...). Kids spontaneously enact these ideological concepts: goods guys vs bad guys, winning by accumulation, ruler and subjects, us-vs-them. Then of course when one kid gets his feelings or his body hurt, there's always a little bully around to call him a crybaby (the game's not the problem, its you, you're a crybaby...). Yup, children are masters at ideology.

Of course, you can claim "oh, well those kids learned all that from their parents, from TV". This allows you to return to the comfortable belief that "children are spontaneously free and innocent". In other words, you can always find some way to displace the tension onto some exterior force, to lay all the blame at some far-away overlords or some unchangeable social formation, so that you can continue on with your life secure in your certainty that you are not at fault for what happens and that there is nothing you can do.

Edited by Cybilopsin, 29 December 2015 - 07:52 PM.

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#50 CatsAndBats

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 08:15 PM

I thought freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose?

Did Janis lie to me?

Exactly. I feel free enough to go all anarchist and embrace true nihilism if I so desire, so I do not feel enslaved, because at any point I can free myself from any true man-made construct and go all berserker.  

 

[Direct Link]

 

where is @tvcasualty on this thread?


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#51 Alder Logs

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Posted 29 December 2015 - 11:44 PM

 

Of course, you can claim "oh, well those kids learned all that from their parents, from TV". This allows you to return to the comfortable belief that "children are spontaneously free and innocent". In other words, you can always find some way to displace the tension onto some exterior force, to lay all the blame at some far-away overlords or some unchangeable social formation, so that you can continue on with your life secure in your certainty that you are not at fault for what happens and that there is nothing you can do.

 

Say whut? 

 

I tend these days to believe very little and project even less, if possible. 



#52 Alder Logs

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Posted 30 December 2015 - 01:02 AM

I think what this Zizek is calling spontaneous, I would say is more like a programmed response. 

 

I do think there is a time in childhood that is prior to conditioning, though the conditioning certainly starts quite early, and more of a process than a threshold.  Once it has begun, our own conditioned personality joins in the fun along our way to making something of ourselves.  I feel our innocence is less lost than buried, as we and our worlds join forces to create our ideological bondage.


Edited by Alder Logs, 30 December 2015 - 01:16 AM.


#53 TVCasualty

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Posted 30 December 2015 - 12:53 PM

Maybe freedom is the transcendence of semantics? Dare to dream...

 
But while we're still spinning our language-wheels in the mud of abstraction I guess I'd add that "freedom" might be analogous to the relationship between weather and climate.
 
Here, the "climate" is the set of boundary conditions within which we can act (regardless of what our Intent may be). For example, I might decide to drive my car to the Moon, but that action is outside of the external boundary conditions of the context I exist within (as far as I know...). Our internal boundaries define the limits of our imagination, which is otherwise unconstrained by annoyances like gravity, thermodynamics, and entropy and such. So I can imagine myself driving to the Moon and I might really want to do it (more than I've ever wanted to do anything), but...
 
 
...But so long as my Intent stays within the boundaries of my particular condition then I can choose the "weather" I experience (more or less; oftentimes other people's 'weather' affects ours, and vice-versa). Then there's the issue of our awareness of our particular boundaries (both internal and external). If we can't perceive an otherwise-viable option that's available to us (because we mistakenly believe our boundaries to be more constrained than they "really" are) then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist. So, are we free yet?
 

But anyway, how ironic is that?  :blink:
 
I.e., our imagination is essentially unconstrained (free!) relative to the external, physical boundaries we must stay within to continue to exist, but if our awareness (which is an internal phenomenon) is insufficient with regards to accurately assessing our external boundaries then the primary constraint limiting our options is our own imagination! So the only part of us that lacks any arbitrary, externally-determined boundaries creates our boundaries for us. And when they are established this way, they are always more confining than they would be if our awareness had been keener/more accurate.
 
Of course, this can go the other way, too; some people have imagined that unaided flight was not outside of their boundary conditions and so jumped off of a building or whatever and died a few seconds later. Like Saint Carlin pointed out, such people should've tried taking off from the ground first, like many birds do. But I digress.
 

The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that "freedom" is far too ambiguous (and abstract) of a concept to be useful in any practical sense. What IS useful, and not abstract (for the purposes of this discussion at least) is the cultivation of awareness. In this context, awareness is not a "concept" at all; it's a manifestation of our Intent to perceive and so is an action (as opposed to a thought). I guess if "freedom" actually "is" anything, it'd be the Intentional cultivation of our awareness.
 
Or as an old Wise Ass once wrote,
 

Sitting quietly,
doing nothing.
 
Spring comes,
and the grass grows green.

 
But as another old Wise Ass inquired, who is the Master that makes the grass "green?"
 
 
I suspect the "Master" is the same overly self-conscious dork that builds little cages out of fear to hide himself (or herself) in.
 
 
Or to put it another way:
 

"Your heart will remain calm. Your adrenalin gland will remain calm. Calm, all-over calm. You will not panic. you will look at the fnord and see it. You will not evade it or black it out. You will stay calm and face it."

(from The Illuminatus Trilogy)

 
FNORD!  (behold, if you dare)


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#54 prof_it_e

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 09:53 AM

i have read that we only use 10% of our brains and i can not prove that is true.  however if that is true, it seems that there is exceptionally more to our existence than we can perceive, possibly.

 

Slaves to our brains... the plot thickens...

 

"Limitless" (Movie Trailer);

 

[Direct Link]



#55 CatsAndBats

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 09:59 AM

No it doesn't ;)

 

http://www.wired.com...-in-60-seconds/


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#56 Alder Logs

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 10:21 AM

Interesting article, Cat.  



#57 Soulocybin

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Posted 01 January 2016 - 11:57 PM

We are slaves to what we succumb to.



#58 Myc

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 09:12 AM

I just watched this documentary yesterday. Corbett re-visits some stuff I had seen in a Ken Burns documentary - "The Men Who Built America". It is just astounding to see things from the viewpoint presented. - How big oil conquered the world.....

Are we slaves?.........

 

[Direct Link]


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#59 Alder Logs

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 10:41 AM

Thanks for that posting, Myc.



#60 CatsAndBats

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 12:01 PM

I've started reading a scholar by the name of Thomas Merton (1915-1968), he was a trappist monk and mystic. Now as I adhere to the judeo-christian ethic, I am a true agnostic, so I want all perspectives, and do not claim any religion or spiritual practice as my own (I'm just a curious medicine man). Now with that out of the way, there was a statement that he wrote that resonates with me, he was comparing modern despair (aka evil?) with deserts in the bible that tested various prophets/men:

"This, then, is our desert: to live facing despair, but not to consent... To wage war against despair unceasingly."
Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude 1956

This is certainly a war worth waging, and since I cannot control anyone's behavior except for my own, even if I am a slave, I find comfort in my ability to "wage war" against despair, evil, or any other manifestation that is unkind or not for the greater good of mankind.


Edited by catattack, 05 January 2016 - 12:01 PM.

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