Oppression and Division

The targeting of any particular group by an oppression is almost never what the oppression is really about.

This has been very confusing for many people, especially the people who are targeted: of course they feel like it’s about them! But it’s not. To understand issues of oppression we have to follow our minds, not our feelings.

Irrespective of how they originally got started, all oppressions now serve a higher function: to keep the vast majority of people divided from each other, to make it impossible to organise a movement large enough, united enough, or with broad enough aims to simply require a fair, non-exploitative society. The hurt dealt out by oppression is almost incidental – it’s simply that arranging for one group to systematically hurt or exploit another has proven to be the most effective way to keep people divided and confused.

There was often no need to invent oppressions to carry out this function – they simply evolved within the inhuman environment of past societies. Some, however, were invented.

For example:

The racism we see today was originally invented in order to divide white working class people from the native peoples in Europe’s colonies. In the absence of racism, too many white working class men in the colonising armies ‘went native’ and refused to kill.

Today, within ‘developed’ nations, the main function of racism is to divide the majority white working class people from various others, in order to keep them preoccupied with a false sense of danger or competition from others.

The main function of sexism is to prevent very close relationships between males and females, so one half of humanity can’t fully trust or respect the other half. Gay oppression and homophobia then block the other door – the one leading to very close friendships between heterosexual men or (to a lesser extent) between heterosexual women.

The main function of anti-Semitism is to set up some Jews as the immediate oppressors of the (non-Jewish) working class (or other oppressed groups), so that oppressed peoples become preoccupied with ‘the Jews’ rather than accurately understanding the whole exploitative structure. This is currently working very well: for example, many people on the Left find it more comfortable to focus on the latest wrong-doing of Israel than to face our own nation’s deep role in exploiting the Middle East – using Israel (and several Arab states) as our proxies.

When you see oppression it’s important to care about the people being hurt – but it’s far more important to care about the division being maintained, because it’s the division that prevents us working together, to bring about societies that don’t use oppression and division as their main organising tools.

Other articles detailing how anti-Semitism works:

The Visible Face of Oppression

A framework for understanding exploitative societies

Central Ideas

Human beings are capable of high levels of cooperation, love and caring. However, for thousands of years most of us have been living in societies that systematically suppress these human qualities. These inhuman social systems now function to sustain themselves, the systems, not the people within them...

Divide and rule has been used to control populations for thousands of years... This division is not natural or inevitable – we can understand it and undo it; we can build a society organised for the benefit of all people and all life...

When we humans are very young, our fragile minds are sometimes overwhelmed by experiences they can’t yet handle...

Human minds seem to be vulnerable to being hurt emotionally, but also equipped with emotional healing processes...

Other Articles