In thinking on how to curate my workshop at Rikers, I've been spending some time with Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. On my way there on the Q100 last week, though, a passage from the last chapter gave me some context for our current regime. Here's some of it.
...[T]he dominators try to present themselves as saviors of the women and men they dehumanize and divide. This messianism, however, cannot conceal their true intention: to save themselves. They want to save their riches, their power, their way of life: the things that allow them to subjugate others.
"A psychoanalysis of oppressive action might reveal the 'false generosity' of the oppressor...as a dimension of the latter's sense of guilt. With this false generosity, he attempts not only to preserve an unjust and necrophilic order, but the 'buy' peace for himself. It happens that peace cannot be bought; peace is experienced in solidarity and loving acts, which cannot be incarnated in oppression.
"Since it is necessary to divide the people in order to preserve the status quo and (thereby) the power of the dominators, it is essential for the oppressors to keep the oppressed from perceiving their strategy. So the former must convince the latter that they are being 'defended' against the demonic action of 'marginals, rowdies, and enemies of God' (for these are the epithets directed at men who lived and are living the brave pursuit of mans humanization). In order to divide and confuse the people, the destroyers call themselves builders, and accuse the true builders of being destructive. History, however, always takes it upon itself to modify these designations."
History will not be kind to Donald Trump, or to us as Americans for electing him. We have a lot of work to do, and a major reckoning with ourselves. But Freire also has some cautionary words for Democrats dreaming of quick fixes at the midterms:
"In a situation of manipulation, the Left is almost always tempted by a 'quick return to power,' forgets the necessity of joining with the oppressed to forge an organization, and strays into an impossible 'dialogue' with the dominant elites. It ends by being manipulated by these elites, and not infrequently itself falls into an elitist game, which it calls 'realism.'"