The Means of Production: Introduction

I’m going to take a break from my reminiscing about my personal past. Instead, I’m going to return to a subject near and dear to my heart: politics. Contrary to what the common usage of that word is, for me politics is much more than the official business of the legitimate governing institutions of this world. I use politics more in the Aristotlean sense; that is, everything and anything that has to do with human interaction. Politics is about how we humans relate to each other, both formally and informally(for a detailed discussion of what I am talking about here, I suggest you read Pierre Bourdieu’s Outline of a Theory of Practice).

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time will find what I’m about to say a bit repetitious. Sorry about that, but I need to make we are all on the same page. When it comes to politics as I define it, I am a Marxist, but not a vulgar Marxist. What I mean by that is that I do agree that whoever controls the means of production, controls that particular society.

The mans of production is not just the purely economic means, such as factories, corporations, etc… Rather, the menas of productions includes the means of symbolic production, that is who controls the things like education, theater, music, religion: all those things that shape how we think and how we see the world. (My thanks to Marshall Sahlins’ Culture and Practical Reason for this concept). One of the major producers of symbolic products in Western culture is the media. The media, in it’s attempts to be profitable, sells advertising for products that we really don’t have a need for, at first. However, the advertising creates a false need in consumers. The most glaring and most troubling example, for me, is the advertising done by pharmaceutical companies, a subject I have discussed many times here. Feel free to search this blog for more specific details about my feelings about the drug companies. Suffice it to say, their advertising creates a false sense of need and we wonder why we have so many people in this country addicted to prescription medications. The sad thing is that too often the side effects are worse than the disease being treated. Personally, I’d be more than happy to live with a bad case of acne rather than the more serious side effects that some of the prescription medications for acne bring. In this series of posts, I am going to touch on a number of issues about control of the means of production that trouble me in Western society, especially here in the U.S. The first one, which we will cover next time, is the total misrepresentation in American politics(the institutional kind) and the media about what Socialism is, and who is or isn’t a Socialist. Let me tell you upfront; I am a Socialist, and Barack Obama is so far from being a Socialist, it’s not even funny. I only wish he was one.

Confronting the Past Part Twelve

What I want to talk about today is directly related to some of the stuff I’ve been talking about on my Christian Heresiology blog, especially the Digging Deeper articles(See right sidebar on homepage). It is my contention that we humans collectively shape our reality; that there is no reality outside of our collective consciousness. On an individual level, depending on the strength of our psyche, we can shape, to some extent, our own realities. If you have ever done any motivational training, or sale training, you have been exposed to a mundane form of this theory of mine. Not that this theory is original to me other than perhaps in the breadth that I use it.

Many religions, including Christianity, have mystic forms. In almost every form of mysticism, there is some variation of this idea of there being no reality beyond what we humans create for ourselves. One of the most ancient forms is in Hinduism that sees the world of reality as illusion. Buddhism also believes this to be true and that enlightenment for a Buddhist is to escape from this reality of illusion to a state of true reality. In some ways, this is what Christ was talking about in his kerygma. In my journey through my looking glass of religion, I have come to the conclusion that this escape to enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it, is what Christians call the Resurrection. Death is not the end of existence, neither spiritual or physical. It is only a doorway into a new level of perception(thanks to Aldous Huxley for that one).

In my trip through the looking glass I have explored, to some level or another, most of the major forms of what we term religion. That includes, of course, the five major religions as well as various forms of “paganism” and “witchcraft.” Looking back at all those religious experiences these past few years is what led to where I am now. I do not deny the existence of God; I do deny the existence of the Fundamentalist Judao/Christian/Islamic concept of God. That concept has led to the oppression of both ethnic and sexual minorities, all kinds of stupid wars and other rediculous acts of violence and a general oppression of intellectual freedom. Religious fundamentalists, of which at one time I was one, feel they have the monopoly on truth, which is hysterical, since truth changes over time. Contrary to what these people argue, there is no absolute truth, and there never has been. This belief in absolute truth and it’s corollary of a monopoly on truth is what Karl Marx was talking about when he said that religion is the opiate of the masses.