False consciousness is a Marxist idea which means the place the person sees themselves in as part of an oppressive structure where they are individual not part of a group. They have no power or do not realise that they are being oppressed. The ideology and institutions that support a capitalist society trick or mislead members of the society. The true exploitative relationships are hidden from those who are exploited.
The worker thinks that “I am being exploited by my boss”. Rather than “we are being exploited by our boss”. The idea is that the group en masse has a lot of power. The power to strike for example.
Yet our ideology and institutions drip feed the idea that the group is bad and the individual is good.
From a certain perspective you could argue Brexit and Trump succeeded due to False Consciousness. People who voted to leave Europe or for Trump believe they are voting for someone or something who will stand up and support them. In the theory of False Consciousness people have voted for an oppressor believing that they are going to benefit from the oppressor. As they do not understand the system of oppression that they are in.
The Brexit and Trump supporter would also argue that the status quo is oppressive and has exploited them for decades widening the gap between rich and poor. So anything else must be better.
Exploitation is a part of being human. We all have relationships where we gain an advantage without the other person realising it. If that person knew our advantage they might try to take it away from us.
This can be benign or not!
Whatever your political persuasion we all exploited. But are we aware of it?
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2016
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Disclaimer:This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique