Qui Bono?

The ideas of Hegemony, False-Consciousness reinforced by the culture it generates: these are wonderful analytical tools. They allow us to explore and explain our world more perceptively and more articulately. 

Theories are useful models of thinking, but they aren’t real things. They are prefaced by an assumed “it’s as if…” They draw us in certain directions; they favour coming to certain sorts of value-derived conclusions, so they must be approached critically. All thought processes should be constantly monitored: there are alternatives. 

Once we have arrived at a successful way of thinking, though, we start to use it all the time and see evidence for it everywhere. This is confirmation bias. We are bedding in and reinforcing particular neural pathways, so that our brain can jump to those conclusions without wasting time. 

Then the theory has become a habit of thought: an assumption: a truth[1].

But truths are undeniable laws, strictures. Only the most specific and verifiable facts should fit these criteria. When a complex, totalising theory about society begins to be regarded, uncritically, as a given, it becomes a hegemony itself, at least within the realm where it holds sway. It restricts and channels thinking towards one way of structuring the world, and therefore one hierarchy and power system; it becomes a source of authority. 

When such orthodoxies start to be imposed on our debates, we ought to ask ourselves (as we should ask of all assertions) Qui Bono? Who benefits from this interpretation? Why are they so keen on it?

[1] Babies enter the realms of thought with little other than an innate capacity to theorise from first-hand experience. That’s how they learn to differentiate between the phenomena they encounter, between people, day and night, waking and sleeping, predict what might happen next and thus learn to navigate the world independently. They are amazing at it, superhuman geniuses. Unfortunately, by the time they are ready to theorise about society and human nature, more abstract notions, they are approaching adulthood, when their brains are beginning to atrophy, get set in their ways, take shortcuts. It happens to us all.

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