Note: Much longer than usual quote from Freire today. It’s more important than ever to understand the oppressor mindset that Freire illuminates for us in the discourse below. While I could have shared bits of the following discourse over a few posts, I felt it important to keep this part of the analysis whole.
The oppressor consciousness tends to transform everything surrounding it into an object of its domination. The earth, property, production, the creations of people, people themselves, time—everything is reduced to the status of objects at its disposal.
In their unrestrained eagerness to possess, the oppressors develop a conviction that it is possible for them to transform everything into objects of their purchasing power; hence they’re strictly materialistic concept of existence. Money is a measure of all things, and profit the primary goal. For the oppressors, what is worthwhile is to have more—always more—even at the cost of the oppressed having less or having nothing. For them, to be is to have and to be the class of the “haves.”
As beneficiaries of a situation of oppression, the oppressors cannot perceive that if having as a condition of being, it is necessary condition for all women and men. This is why their generosity is false. Humanity is a “thing,” and they possess it as an exclusive right, as inherited property. To the oppressor consciousness, humanization of the “others,” of the people, appears not as the pursuit of full humanity, but as subversion.
The oppressors do not perceive the monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They cannot see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an unalienable right, a right they acquired through their own “effort,” with their “courage to take risks.” If others do not have more, it is because they’re incompetent and lazy, and worst of all it is their unjustifiable in gratitude towards the “generous gestures” of the dominant class. Precisely because they are “ungrateful” and “envious,” the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched.
— Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Amazon, Goodreads)
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