Psychic Exploitation, Language and Media

Colonialism: An incredible lust for gold, silver, land and other riches propelled the Spanish and Portuguese to invade virtually every part of South and Central America. With superior weapons, they enslaved and massacred the native populations. The English, French and Dutch followed this example on other continents. In addition to violence, the colonialists imposed inferiority complex. They told the defeated people, “Your culture is primitive, your religion is defective, your language is unsophisticated.” This weakened the people’s will to resist. When countries gained political independence, capitalists then developed clever techniques to continue their exploitation of newly independent countries. One of their most powerful techniques has been to impose pseudo-culture. Pseudo-culture means that which is fake, imposed, which does not uplift a people. Pseudo-culture refers to ideas and products that paralyse society and prepare the people for economic exploitation. They offer to make life more pleasurable than was the case under their own culture, but in fact they undermine the resolve of the people. The widespread dissemination of “consumer culture”, with its appeal to material pleasures, ultimately has a debilitating effect psychologically and spiritually. It also lowers the resistance of those who try to maintain their cultural heritage. Many of the television programs broadcast around the world promote a US-based materialistic pseudo-culture. The powerful impact that this has was demonstrated in a recent study done at the University of the Philippines by Professor Maria Doronilla. She interviewed several hundred Filipino elementary students from different schools. One question that she asked them was: What nationality would you like to be? The majority of the children answered American, while others wanted to be Japanese or European. Less than 15 percent wanted to be Filipino. Psychologically, this has a damaging effect on one’s personality. Advertisements portray a life that is seemingly more pleasurable than one’s real life. Such ads make people want to be rich – to enjoy the glamorous clothes, cars and houses that everyone in Hollywood TV shows and films seems to have. For example, many Venezuelan children see their parents struggling, living with much less income and fewer material goods, and so start to feel that they are backward and primitive. So it also makes people want to be white! If children want to be someone else, it means they don’t want to be themselves. Even young children begin to develop a low self-image and inferiority complex because of pseudo-culture. The corporate-owned mass media continually promotes the desire to get rich quick; it does not broadcast revolutionary music, theatre or news. Pseudo-culture paralyses people and breaks their will to resist exploitation. The Exploitation of Women:

Prout views the domination of women as a historical process, linked to the larger problem of imperialism. With the end of matriarchy and the development of family structures, women became partially dependent on men, especially during pregnancy and immediately after childbirth. Warrior societies generally prohibited the killing of women, and for the most part respected the rights of both women and men. However, when the intellectuals, particularly the priestly class, gained control of society, to maintain their power they created religious edicts and so-called “divine” commandments to cripple women in every sphere and turn them into wageless slaves. The economic exploitation of women has intensified during the capitalist era. Studies in most countries show that men continue to earn more than women at every level of education. In the US, on average, for every dollar that a man earns, a woman earns 73 cents for the same work per hour. In Brazil, women earn only 65 cents for the same hour a man works, and in Japan, a woman earns less than 50 cents for every dollar that a man earns. TV, films and magazines use women’s faces and bodies to advertise everything from cigarettes to car parts, turning women into commodities valued only for their sex appeal. Prostitution and pornography have become hugely profitable businesses for some capitalists. The Awakening of Women: Prout advocates the abolition of dogmas and the end of patriarchal exploitation and discrimination against women, through the following means: - Free education for all: Lack of quality education leads to dogmatic outlook and is the main reason why some women participate in or accept their own exploitation. Every child should learn to value diversity and to view gender, racial and cultural differences among people as enhancements of our human family, like different colored flowers growing together in one beautiful garden. - No social or religious discrimination: On the spiritual level, there is no difference at all between men and women. Yet the vast majority of religious leaders around the world are men, even though the majority of followers are women, whom the leaders call “the upholders of the faith.” - Economic self-reliance for women: In order for women to have social freedom, they must be economically independent from, or beside, men. Prout encourages women who choose to live at home with their children to start cottage industries, e.g. home services, handicrafts, arts, food services, computer businesses, intellectual services and consultancies. - Social justice: A healthy society demands justice for women. Society must protect women from both physical and psychic abuse. Media: In 1981, a cable television network was created in the US for pop music. Called MTV; today it beams its programs to more than 250 million households in 71 countries. The owner is Sumner Redstone, one of the ten wealthiest men in the world, with assets of over US$10 billion. In this way, he is also the most influential educator in the world. However, his only message to

hundreds of millions of young people on every continent is to consume. The global entertainment industry creates superstars who only ask their fans to enjoy themselves and continue buying. Parents and teachers have a hard time competing with this for the attention of their children! Language: People express their thoughts and feelings through language. Most people feel more comfortable and communicate more clearly when they use their mother tongue, rather than languages learned later in life. Those who were colonized in the past and immigrants by necessity, were forced to speak in an unfamiliar language, often develop shyness or an inferiority complex. In Venezuela there are 40 indigenous languages spoken. Of those, the largest number of speakers is 170,000 people who live along the Colombian border and they speak Wayuu. Next is Yanomami, spoken by 12,000 speakers in Venezuela. All the other indigenous languages are in danger of extinction, and some have as few as 5 speakers. See the complete list at: http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=Venezuela Prout asserts that every language should be given equal rights and recognition. All people should be encouraged to learn and speak their mother tongue, as well as other languages. Prout asserts that the local language should be taught in schools and used in the workplace and government offices of every community, thus encouraging full employment of the local people and a sense of community pride. All schools should also teach the lingua franca, Spanish for Latin America and English for the world, so that students develop the feeling that they are citizens of the world, able to communicate with any other citizen. Sarkar’s strategy to end capitalist exploitation centres on the creation of popular movements against social and economic exploitation. He called this kind of movement “samaj”, a Sanskrit term which means “society” or, more literally, a group of people working together for the common goal of all-round development. Proutists use this term to indicate a self-sufficient economic region, formed on the basis of common economic and social problems, common geographic potentialities, and common cultural legacy and language. A samaj is a socio-economic community with a natural cultural vibrancy and cohesiveness. Samaj movements, led by moral leaders, struggle to achieve economic democracy. They are social, economic and cultural movements for the all-round welfare of the people. Prout places great importance on indigenous cultural expression and on promoting pride in one’s heritage and way of life. Virtually every successful revolutionary movement throughout history has had a cultural component. Music, art, theatre and literature can stir people’s spirits to struggle and sacrifice for the welfare of their country or region.

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