Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Hegemony of Authoritarian Ideology and the Vancouver Hockey Riot


The immediate response of both the authorities and most of the public was to find a subject to blame for the riot and demand swift vengeance. The riot was the work of “anarchists”, or “thugs” and at the most analytical level, dragged out the old and dog-eared, “society is too permissive” bromide.

We expect the authorities – as group forever mired in a LaBrea Tar Pit state of denial, to do this. But for all the ordinary people who engaged in this blame fest, it only goes to show the hegemony of authoritarian ideology. Such hegemony means that most people are incapable of a structural or systemic analysis of an event. All they can do is conjure up demons, scapegoats and conspiracy theories. Thus, the causes of an unpleasant event, like the hockey riot, are shoved onto individuals or despised minorities.

The inability to think in structural terms is an immense help to the dominator class, by taking the heat off the system of domination, which in this era is corporate capitalism. Furthermore, analyzing an event systemically or structurally leads one to seek rectification of the problem in structural and systemic changes, ie, social change not vigilantism. Of course, it is easier to yell for revenge than get up off your lazy butt and eliminate the root causes of a problem. That requires action and thought, not to mention it automatically leads one to a critical evaluation of the status quo.

Socialists and anarchists have struggled for almost two centuries to acquaint the masses with systemic thinking. That we still have to do this shows the immense strength that authoritarian ideology has. Blaming, vengeance and punishment all have their roots in religion. Authoritarian religions claim that humans are innately evil and that when they do bad things it is because they chose to do so – the doctrine of free will - being too weak or vicious to restrain themselves. People need to be terrorized into obedience and punished severely if they fall by the way side. But terror is not enough to maintain a system, it is much better when the masses sincerely believe this clap trap and engage in a virtual knee jerk reaction, applying it to all situations. Truly a wonderful tool for protecting the system of domination.

It comes as no surprise that such doctrines have their origins in a slave-based society. Hunting and gathering and pre-dominator class agricultural societies sought harmony among their members not punishment, nor did they believe in humanity's supposedly innate evil nature.

That a supposed progressive mayor would seek to scape goat anarchists only goes to show how deeply ingrained this ideology is. Part of the problem lies with social democracy which ceased its educational role back in the 1950's when they adopted the foolish belief that class struggle was over. The only “education” most people get is from the schools and the mass media which naturally indoctrinate them in dominator ideology.

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