Silent Violence

We begin with the children. It is imperative to catch them in time. Without the most thorough and rapid brain-washing their dirty minds would see through our dirty tricks. Children are not yet fools, but we shall turn them into imbeciles like ourselves, with high I.Q.s if possible.

From the moment of birth, when the stone-age baby confronts the twentieth-century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence, called love, as its mother and father have been, and their parents and their parents before them. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of its potentialities.

This enterprise is on the whole successful. By the time the new human being is fifteen or so, we are left with a being like ourselves. A half-crazed creature, more or less adjusted to a mad world. This is normality in our present age.

We act on our experience at the behest of others, just as we learn how to behave in compliance to them. We are taught what to experience and what not to experience, as we are taught what movements to make and what sounds to emit. A child of two is already a moral mover and moral talker and moral experiencer. He already moves the 'right' way, makes the 'right' noises, and knows what he should feel and what he should not feel.

As he is taught to move in specific ways, out of the whole range of possible movements, so he is taught to experience, out of the whole range of possible experience.

The Family's function is to repress Eros: to induce a false consciousness of security: to dent death by avoiding life : to cut off transcendence: to believe in God, not to experience the Void: to create, in short, one-dimensional man: to promote respect, conformity, obedience: to con children out of play: to induce fear of failure: to promote a respect for work: to promote a respect for 'respectibility'.

The family is, in the first place, the usual instrument for what is called socialization, that is, getting each new recruit to the human race to behave and experience in substantially the same way as those who have already got here.

Children do not give up their innate imagination, curiosity, dreaminess easily. You have to love them to get them to do that. Love is the path through permissiveness to discipline: and through discipline, only too often, to betrayal of self.

[In adjusting to society we have been] tricked and [have] tricked ourselves out of our minds, that is to say, out of our own personal world of experience, out of that unique meaning with which potentially we may endow the external world ...

[R.D. Laing]
The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, p.49, 50, 51, 55, 57, 60, 61

Image: 'Silent Violence' by Yoshitomo Nara

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  1. Look out the window. Go here, don't go there. Work for this long, and then rest, and play (for this long). Think this, don't think that.

    What are our myths, and do they fit us?

  2. Let us take an illustration. Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Someone makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins: pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price. In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacturing of pins would take to working four hours instead of eight, and everything else would go on as before. But in the actual world this would be thought demoralizing. The men still work eight hours, there are too many pins, some employers go bankrupt, and half the men previously concerned in making pins are thrown out of work. There is, in the end, just as much leisure as on the other plan, but half the men are totally idle while half are still overworked. In this way, it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all round instead of being a universal source of happiness. Can anything more insane be imagined?

    [Betrand Russell]
    In Praise of Idleness

  3. Adaptation to what? To society? To a world gone mad?

    [R.D. Laing]
    The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, p.55

  4. Of Miller's many and complex contributions, I want to single out his method. For it is less his assiduous scholarship, the research and ideas drawn from it, but the simultaneous deliteralizing of the scholarship and ideas by means of Adler's "junktim," the metaphor, the verbal juxtaposition, off-reversals and odd-combinations of thoughts, fields, and periods, especially through humour, that allows a sense of fiction to shine through every sentence.

    His style opens into a psychotherapeutic method of intellect because it is a seriousness that prevents the ego's literal earnestness. He attempts a poiesis of the borderline trying to keep the mind from breaking into divisions called sane and insane.

    [James Hillman]
    Healing Fiction, p.116

  5. What do children learn at school?

    They go varying distances in their studies, but at any rate they learn to read, to write and to add - i.e. a number of techniques, and a number of other things as well, including elements (which may be rudimentary or on the contrary thoroughgoing) of 'scientific’ or 'literary culture’, which are directly useful in the different jobs in production (one instruction for manual workers, another for technicians, a third for engineers, a final one for higher management, etc.).

    Thus they learn 'know-how’.

    But besides these techniques and knowledges, and in learning them, children at school also learn the 'rules’ of good behavior, i.e. the attitude that should be observed by every agent in the division of labour, according to the job he is 'destined’ for: rules of morality, civic and professional conscience, which actually means rules of respect for the socio-technical division of labour and ultimately the rules of the order established by class domination.

    They also learn to 'speak proper French’, to 'handle’ the workers correctly, i.e. actually (for the future capitalists and their servants) to 'order them about’ properly, i.e. (ideally) to 'speak to them’ in the right way, etc.

    In other words, the school (but also other State institutions like the Church, or other apparatuses like the Army) teaches 'know-how’, but in forms which ensure subjection to the ruling ideology or the mastery of its 'practice’.

    All the agents of production, exploitation and repression, not to speak of the 'professionals of ideology' (Marx), must in one way or another be 'steeped' in this ideology in order to perform their tasks 'conscientiously' -

    the tasks of the exploited (proletarians),
    of the exploiters (the capitalists),
    of the exploiters' auxiliaries (the managers),
    or of the high priests of the ruling ideology (its 'functionaries'),etc.

    [Louis Althusser]
    'Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus', excerpted in The Norton Anthology: Theory and Criticism, p.1485