Subduing by colonizing the minds

The colonization of the minds is a subduing instrument of societies that are forced to support, or at least ignore, policies that infringe upon their own interests and needs. These policies, promoted by privileged minorities, preserve and reproduce subduing situations.

Small but powerful minorities manage to impose their privileges over large majorities of population through establishing a diversity of subduing mechanisms. All these mechanisms come from the economic and political power they have accumulated over time. This power is preserved by a legal and economic order that secures its reproduction.

In autocratic regimes, power concentrated in few hands counts on repressive mechanisms to confront any transforming attempt. These include security forces fiercely controlled, confinement or elimination of real or eventual opponents, maximum economic concentration in few families that conform the dominant class, an ideological fundamentalism that justifies and ennobles autocratic domination.

In democratic regimes, the concentrated power saves repressive force for situations where initiatives that threaten their privileges get overboard. To avoid reaching those situations, they have a wide variety of subduing mechanisms that are used in different combinations and proportions according to the circumstances they need to confront. These include economic mechanisms for appropriation of value that allow them keep accumulating wealth and with it co-opt or buy complicities; mechanisms for manipulation of public opinion and its expectations that let them condition the political and economic course, impose agendas, values, attitudes that are attuned with their interests and get through elections significant political backing; mechanisms for institutional configuration that let them have a legal order and judiciary (good part of judges and prosecutors) that favor them so they can block or entangle transformational attempts;  mechanisms for destabilizing or destitution of popular-base governments that stop any advancement of political forces that threatens to affect their privileges. The combination of these mechanisms produces tremendous effects that distort the essence of a democracy and generate as result an increasingly widespread phenomenon: captured democracies.

The colonization of minds is a dimension present in every subduing mechanism. It imposes upon minds ways of thinking and perceiving reality that favors hegemonic interests in detriment of general wellbeing and the own interests of the colonized. To accomplish that it is necessary to control the proceedings and instruments by which public opinion is formed and values, attitudes, and agendas are imposed. This implies aligning in support of concentrated power actors with the larger ability to generate information and make sense of certain dimensions of reality, presented as the most significant ones in detriment of other dimensions, perspectives, and interpretations.

These actors include mass media (newspapers, TV channels, radio stations, internet sites, magazines) that tend to be very concentrated; cultural industry (publishing houses, cultural and entertainment producers, museums and galleries, musical and sport events, tourism) also with some sort of concentration though creativity and freewill find ways of slipping through the fences; the formal educational system (universities, high schools, and grammar schools) with common denominators but also with significant biases in terms of content and educational methodologies between public and private schools; think-tanks that act as generators or diffusers of ideologies and proposals with large differences in equipment and financing in favor of those who are akin with the concentrated power whom they provide support.

Formative and communicational lock

Therefore, concentrated power has at its disposal two powerful platforms for colonizing minds: one formative and another communicational. This formative and communicational power allows them to impose their perspectives and interpretations that are presented as the only credible truth. They repeat a thousand times in hundreds of sources their messages until they establish them above many other voices that are not heard with the same amplitude and permanence.

Quite some other examples of formative and communicational biases that overwhelm our societies can be mentioned. A hot one nowadays is how corruption is conceptualized, explained, and denounced.

Formative and communicational platforms akin with the concentrated powers focus the phenomenon of corruption on the behavior of politicians and public officials. They illegally profit from managing public resources that have been trusted to them in conjunction with certain entrepreneurs that bribe to obtain juicy public-works contracts. This occurs today and has happened with governments of every political sign in practically every country of the world (whether central or from the periphery, affluent or in situations of acute poverty).

A first bias is made on what is denounced as corruption. Corruption related with public works is highlighted while large corruption of billions of dollars committed by big banks and corporations (international or domestic) are ignored, disguised, or get poor coverage. Both types of corruption are reprehensible but the impact on peoples is blatantly different. Estimates on hidden resources in fiscal heaven/havens show that 3% of those resources come from corruption related with politics, while 66% belongs to large economic actors that flight capitals and evade taxes from the countries where their incomes are generated.

A second bias refers to the different informational treatment given to the corruption of officials from popular-base governments vis-à-vis both the one of leading figures of neoliberal governments that have hidden, undeclared offshore companies and accounts, as well as the corruption practiced by large financial entities (see articles They have stolen even Spring from us and Financial greed: Ensured impunity and ignoring the victims)

What is hidden is often of greater significance and scope than what the formative and communicational platforms akin with the concentrated power chose to present as main problems. It is a formative and communicational lock, useful to certain interests, that blocks or confuses the social and individual understanding of what is happening and why it is happening, which is a critical element for building full not captured democracies.

Other examples can be found in the prevailing orientation of the mostly renowned Business Schools that train graduates to manage economic entities guided by the pursuit of maximizing profits, almost without considering the undesired (but foreseeable) “externalities” they inflict upon countries and individuals. This approach became the hegemonic creed in the business world ignoring other conceptions and ways of functioning that integrate corporate results with general wellbeing.

Clarifying us and all

In summary, the colonization of minds hinders and distorts the ability of perceiving reality at its fullness and complexity; it conditions the ability to discern between facts and interpretations casting doubts on our own judgments and perspectives; it blocks or sterilizes transformational efforts. Through a permanent repetition of dogmas and the biased selection of certain reality features, the media and communicational lock is able to impose its interpretations and certainties. Voices akin with the economic power are highlighted and supported through financing and media exposure, while those who stand up for their own perspectives and defend different interests are silenced or ignored.

It is not easy to unmask the faked credibility of those who express their perspectives through media loudspeakers financed by the economic power; nevertheless, it is essential to address this challenge. We will need to grow in organization, determination, creativity and communicational ability to compensate for the shortage of available resources.

What we will have to uphold is a continuous not occasional cultural battle to clarify us and help clarifying others. A promissory feature is that the ways and methods chosen by each community to intervene will have to be diverse based on the specific circumstances of their socio-economic environment. This opens up various possibilities at the local as well as national levels.

At the local level, due to their nearness the interests that come into play can be identified with precision what allows to figure out essential issues, among them (i) how value is produced in that territory and how it is distributed among those who generate it; (ii) how the community is informed (who informs what and their orientation); (iii) in which way local institutions facilitate or block the transformations that the community proposes; (iv) which is the local correlation of forces and if their composition and dynamic allows for or impedes local democracy to be captured by some minority. Analysis of prevailing structures and dynamics of functioning constitute the foundation for identifying options and designing transformational initiatives.

At the national level, universities and research centers sponsored by unions, corporations or community organizations analyze macro mechanisms for appropriation of value, including the degree of regressivity/progressivity of the taxing system, the structure of public spending, the huge capital flight and tax evasion, the nature and dynamic of the productive matrix, the functioning of main value chains, the level of concentration of markets and its impacts on the formation of prices, the recurrent restrictions on the external sector, the competitiveness and integration of our economies to the international concert.

Other groups and circles analyze political processes, social movements, institutional functioning, media structure, how public opinion and social and economic expectations get shaped, the electoral dynamic, the judicial system, and so many others aspects that make the social collective work.

These knowledge and interpretations get strengthened reinforcing the connectivity and collaboration among groups focused on local issues and those dealing with national dynamics. From these connections, methodologies will emerge allowing the inclusion in comprehensive synthesis of the implications and significance coming from the various analysis and proposals.

A final comment refers to the language needed to confront the colonization of minds. To be effective, the clarification process regarding which are the diverse subduing mechanisms that overwhelm our countries and how they function must reach the great majority of our people. Therefore, findings and proposals must be expressed in a language understandable for all and not just for specialists or a reduced circle of connoisseurs. No social progress towards a better course and way of functioning has ever been lead and even less sustained by specialists, but rather by mobilized leaderships and majorities in accordance with their level of clarification, determination, and organization.

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