The Black Commentator: An independent weekly internet magazine dedicated to the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace - Providing commentary, analysis and investigations on issues affecting African Americans and the African world.
Dec 9, 2010 - Issue 405

Just Doing Our Jobs
Represent Our Resistance
By Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, PhD
B Editorial Board


I think it’s not clear to me that we as a culture are teaching our children what we are going to say no to or yes to.
-David Foster Wallace
…relations of domination function through their denial: in order to be operative, they have to be ignored.

The master remains master. In our current social context, philosopher Slavoj Zizek writes, the “boss” is friendly. We call him or her by first name, and “he [or her] shares a dirty joke with us,” In Defense of Lost Causes. Nonetheless, he or she “remains our master.” Domination operates when we are in a state of denial:

We are not only obliged to obey our masters, we are also obliged to act as if we were free and equal, as if there was no domination - which, of course, makes the situation even more humiliating.

The rise of capitalism itself, Zizek explains, accounts for this “paradox” in social relations. Domination denies itself as domination. Capitalism, as an ideology, is effective in that we cannot even name The Master, that is, capitalism, itself. Our function as cogs propelling the furthering of capitalism’s success is ignored. We maintain the appearance of “freedom and dignity” when, in fact, things exchanged on the market are superior to us, people.

What are we going to teach our children to say no or yes to?

There is a videogame now called the Call of Duty, a product of the U.S. Activision company in which the player is encouraged to assassinate former Cuban President Fidel Castro during the Missile Crisis in 1962 (Havana According to the IPS (Inter Press Service), the videogame “encourages sociopathic attitudes in U.S. children and adolescents, the main consumers of the games.” What could not be accomplished some 200 times (that is, the assassination of Castro) in reality is sold as a commodity for U.S. children to absorb as play.

What is in play?

Chris Hedges, refusing to shirk reality and serve a neo-liberal agenda, has not been “excluded and prohibited” altogether, is one of the few voices we are able to see and hear - at least on YouTube. In his lecture promoting his new book Death of the Liberal Class, he establishes how the liberal class has offered itself in the rise of capitalism starting with their silence as Reagan’s gift of deregulation to corporations opened the door for a corporate coup.

The liberal Clinton followed, attracting, Hedges says, corporate money while he carried out draconian legislation that effectively “decapitated” Black Americans and stifled the working class and poor. In the meantime, corporations began giving money to the Democrats in parity with the Republicans, Hedges adds. Thanks to the liberal administration Wall Street took the power making a mockery of the so-called “power of the people.”

With the rise of the Tea Party, anger of “the people” is deflected from Wall Street to the government, Hedges argues. Along with their anger at government, the Tea Party point to the liberal and progressive class, whom they rightly register as the party responsible for selling workers out to corporate money.

What is at play - but the death of the liberal class? I concur with Hedges.

The liberals are in denial about everything - including their own demise! I am reminded of the sheriff (Ed Tom Bell) in No Country for Old Men played by Tommy Lee Jones who, after understanding that the hunter of capital had a peculiar way of sending humans to their death, asks the rhetorical question, “Who are these people?”

Killing, death, destruction is a matter-of-fact, indeed, joyful venture with its own logic. “The crime you see now,” Sheriff Bell recognizes, is “hard to even take its measure.”

It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, ‘O.K., I’ll be part of this world.’

Call it! Heads or tails?

The hunter, disturbed by having to work, even ever so little, to make the store owner succumb to his logic, grows impatient. He is just doing his job!

Call it, please! Just call it!! Heads or tails?

What’s at play, asked the storeowner. I need to know what’s at stake.

Everything! Call it!

…And later the wife of the already pursued and dead, who could not himself hold onto the money to lift his family from poverty, realizes it is hopeless to play this game and questions its logic. It makes no sense, she said. I don’t have the money. You don’t have to kill me, but I know you will kill me anyway and, besides, I knew you were here - even in the bedroom.

Call it!

The Sheriff Bell resigns to a state of resignation. Defeated. Maybe another younger generation will come along and maybe…

He, in retirement, recalls to his wife “dreams” - in which he, a child again, sees his father in the dark but carrying a horn of fire. He, the Sheriff knew that when he reached this darkness, the father would be there - with the fire, casting the light like that of moonlight into the darkness. But then the sheriff woke up!

Do we have anyone left to teach our children what to say no or yes to?

As primary functionaries at these institutions, the liberal class refuses to question their connection and function, their lives as lived in the capitalist system that excludes and prohibits even them from pursuing justice. The liberal class today are just doing its job - assisting an unjust ordering of people. As functionaries, the liberal class continues just doing their job of producing cogs for the Master, excluding and prohibiting anything that has to do with the promotion of life.

Denial is pervasive, and in this environment of denial at so-called educational institutions, fear of reality ensures that no education takes place because the goal is not to have sites of where free inquiry into reality can happen. Resignation and hypocrisy is the solution.

Take for example the post-racial union policies in which the idea of “seniority” is meant to represent a democratic, non-racial, non-discrimination model for the hiring and firing of college teachers. The largest city college in Philadelphia is proud of this system. It represents fairness. Take a look around the auditorium at a meeting of English faculty. The majority in the room are white and male. Look a little harder. See a few Black or Latino or Asian faculty. A handful. Over 300 faculty, however, are seated in this auditorium.

Who are the leaders of the AFT local union? Do you need to ask?

Come in with over 20 years of teaching experience and a PH.D and watch how younger, fresh-from-grad-school teachers become full-time.

Oh, but seniority! Everyone starts at the bottom!

What racial demographic does the hiring?

This is a question that cannot be asked. It makes the liberals feel uncomfortable with you. It suggests you are trouble. It suggests you refuse to be in a state of denial. You refuse to define freedom as the privilege, thanks to liberal class, to be a consumer of goods, a holder of plastic and debt.

(You refuse to play! - they mumble under their breath). Oh, but seniority! Everyone starts at the bottom! (Smile). There, you can be harnessed and subjected to surveillance, if you should attempt to bring reality into our environment. (Smile, again). We are just doing our job!

And better like it - or else! Because not only, as Zizek writes, is it expected that the Master is ignored, but we are “obligated to obey” the Master by responding without question to the functionaries. “We are…obligated to act as if we were free and equal, as if there were no domination - which, of course, makes the situation even more humiliating.”

This is the logic of the capitalist market in control of thought.

Who will teach our children what to say no or yes to? Certainly not the cowards at these so-called educational institutions who kill resistance! Resistance is made powerless! While the liberal class of educators and college/university administrators do their jobs, the corporations and increasingly the U.S. Defense Department ultimately dictate to our children what to say no or yes to.

Call it! Heads or tails? Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Click here to contact Dr. Daniels.