Lust and fear
There are two main origins of oppression, the deliberate pushing down or keeping down of another person or persons or entire peoples.
On the one hand, the powerful feel a need to oppress the less powerful out of lust. Lust for the erotic thrill of conquest, of dominating another human being or peoples. Lust for power (which in itself is one of the most potent aphrodisiacs). Lust for the property or belongings of another person or peoples. Lust for the thrilling risk of doing something that the oppressor knows to their finger-tips is wrong and unquestionably against the Laws of Creation.
On the other hand, oppression springs from fear. Fear that the oppressed might not be favourably disposed to sharing their belongings on equal and reciprocal terms with the oppressor. Fear that the oppressor might lose face if they entered into equitable negotiations with the oppressed. Fear that the deep-seated vanity of the oppressor, rooted so firmly in his conceit and arrogance, might be exposed to the cold light of day, thereby compelling an honest acknowledgement by the oppressor of his own crass inadequacies. And therefore of the need for repentance and restitution.
Although human behaviour and misbehaviour are extremely complex occurrences, governed by intricate biochemical pathways and reciprocal interactions between the inner man and his physical body, a couple of these chemicals deserve special mention in connection with oppression and exploitation.
Like all cravings, the lust of oppression depends on and is perpetuated by dopamine, the pleasure hormone. This is one of the main reasons why oppression is so addictive and so difficult to put a stop to.
Fear is also an emotion felt by the inner man, but the response of the physical body to that fear is dependent on hormones, the ones that help humans manage the uncertainties of living on this wild planet. These hormones, primarily nor-epinephrine and cortisol, are called the stress hormones. They help ensure human survival by preparing us for “fight or flight” in the face of existential threats.
What seems to happen with the fear that begets oppression is that the body’s response to fear is mixed up with the fear itself in a distorted way, feeding into a tightening bio-feedback loop, to the point that the individual or group that is oppressing starts to “believe their own propaganda”.
Their handle on reality becomes so defective that they become unwilling to countenance logical alternatives to their own belief systems.
To sustain oppression for long periods of time and to extract suitable “return on investment” from it, a system of ruthless conditioning of the oppressed is also required. The best example of this conditioning method and outcome is how a circus elephant is generally kept in check. From birth, it is so maltreated that it becomes conditioned to the idea that “resistance is futile”. This is so ingrained in its psyche that even after its growth into a two-ton beast, capable of flattening just about everything in its path, this poor animal simply stays compliant and does not realise that it could more or less walk out of the circus into freedom!
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Exploitation of the common wealth
Regardless of how and why oppression arises, or how it is maintained, the main side effect and the primary reason it even occurs, is exploitation. Exploitation of the humanity of the oppressed. Exploitation of their common wealth. Of their natural resources. Of the fruit of the sweat of their brows.
In order to exploit a people long term, the oppressor is compelled to degrade, even dehumanise the oppressed. The dispossessed must be cast in a light clearly demonstrative of lower or even zero humanity. In this zero-sum game scenario, the oppressor must be the only one that is human and the oppressed must not be worthy of being called human.
This in turn makes it so much easier to gain the buy-in of more ideologically neutral individuals in the oppressors’ camps, to enlist them as foot soldiers in the required conquest of the oppressed.
In the zero-sum game of oppression and exploitation, it initially appears to observers that the only winners are the oppressors and the only losers are the oppressed. The more the oppressor feels tinges of loss, the more they feel the need to oppress and exploit even more!
Things finally get to the point where both oppressed and oppressor lose their humanity and become base, primitive animals. This is because early on, the oppressed had been stripped of their humanity and relegated to near-animal existence. And by the end of the process, the oppressor loses all moral compass, the highest of the things that defines and protects humanity on earth.
“The sword wounds the body, but words wound the soul.”
But as always happens in nature, balance and harmony are enforced in the end, and that is why the oppressor is on notice to reform or risk being crushed by the inflexible mills of the universe.
Having fingered some chemicals complicit in the working of the oppressive mind, there might be a temptation to blame the whole sad occurrence on a person’s biochemistry. This is as meaningless as blaming a car crash arising from bad driving on the car itself. Put bluntly, the oppressor has a lot to answer for.
Have specific tales of oppression? Share them in the comments below!
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