Karl Mannheim / Ideology and Utopia

“ The concept ‘ideology’ reflects the one discovery which emerged from political conflict, namely, that ruling groups can in their thinking be come so intensively interest-bound to a situation that they are simply no longer able to see certain facts which would undermine their sense of domination. There is implicit in the word ‘ideology’ the insight that in certain situations the collective unconscious of certain groups obscures the real condition of society both to itself and to others and thereby stabilizes it. Continue reading “Karl Mannheim / Ideology and Utopia”

Civilizations vs. Barbarians

“… even when the great civilizations developed, they set their bound aries somewhere.

…. the Chinese Empire had no Foreign Affairs Department, since it was civilization, and all else barbarism – they recognized the existence of life beyond the lines, but only barbarian life.

The line where civilization ended was patrolled by armed men, guarded by Roman and Chinese walls. As to what lay beyond, they were not too interested…”

— Worsley, Peter. (1967). The Third World.

Fascism as a state of mind

Shahzeb Khanzada presented a cogent and historically informed analysis of fascism in his program on April 22, 2022, which provoked an immediate reaction. Interestingly, he did not name any (Pakistani) names, but it was immediately understood on both sides to whom he was referring. There is one man whose politics fits the bill – and we all know who he is. Some folk protested Khanzada’s mordant analogy citing their leader never committed the mass atrocities fascists did in the past. They are wrong. Fascism should not be reduced to Nazism. Fascism is far broader than a single historical case; fascism is a state of mind

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On Baudrillard and “Impossible Burgers”

“The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth – it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.” – Ecclesiastes*

* (this is not a direct quote from Ecclesiastes but something invented by Baudrillard to stands as a strong metaphor to idea of simulation – that it is not real!)

“Burger” is a pejorative term that entered Pakistani popular discourse in the recent decade to denote young, westernized, affluent, urban elite, who study at expensive private schools, speak English rather than Urdu in their social circle, and prefer eating burgers over the local cuisine. They are constantly derided for being out of touch with mainstream Pakistani politics and society. “Impossible Burgers” are the vegetarian substitute for beef-based hamburgers created by Impossible Foods and introduced by the fast-food chain, Burger King, that became immensely popular with the ‘conscious’ consumers for being an environmentally friendly product, which not only simulates the real meat but also tastes better than it. Burger King even offers a promotion to try both products out and find any difference. To make it real – or surreal or in Baudrillard’s definition of the situation, hyperreal – the Impossible Burger patties ‘drip blood’, which happen to be just beetroot juice. Impossible Burgers, hence for the sake of thought experiment, are a milestone simulacrum in our journey towards a total simulated reality in which the sovereign difference between the simulated and the real will gradually disappear – turning us into “burgers” who will no longer be able to distinguish between the real and the simulated. 

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Consuming Therapy

We have become active consumers of therapy!

 

This notion raises immediate alarm in the humanist and learned community for such notions stand to trivialize the suffering of many (as much as a quarter of Americans (Terlizzi & Zablotsky, 2020)) and feed the paternalistic stereotypes (e.g., weakness) around seeking help for mental issues. However, my intent is the archeology of mental health problems on the one hand, and a critique of the commodification of mental health and an uncanny attitude towards active consumption of psychotherapy in contemporary capitalist societies.

 

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Kuhn (1962), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Kuhn proposed, knowledge within any discipline depends on a communally shared commitment to a paradigm.

A paradigm roughly consists of:

  1. an array of assumptions about what exists (ontology)
  2. how it may be known (epistemology)
  3. how scientific work ‘ought’ to proceed (ethics).
  4. a pattern of activities held to be consistent with these assumptions.

Two conclusions follow from these assertions:

  1. A commitment to a paradigm must precede the generation of knowledge. Thus it is the commitment to an a priori set of assumptions and practices that makes knowledge possible. In effect, different paradigms will create different scientific realities, and there is no means of standing outside a paradigm of some kind to adjudicate among them.

    Truth exists only within a paradigm.

  2. Individual minds are not the source of knowledge, but communities. Individual knowledge, hence, is not a private achievement but owes its origins to community participation.

Source: Gergen & Gergen. (Eds.). (2003). Social construction: A reader. Sage.