One cannot be free unless one has the power to change one’s circumstances in a positive way. One cannot change one’s circumstances unless one can see what needs to be changed. Consciousness is therefore an a priori necessity for freedom. Dictatorship can be achieved by simply making the people it oppresses unconscious of the reality that really dominates them.

Consciousness has to be an alert force, if it is not alert it cannot be consciousness. Its power lies in its ability to see through the veil of systemic mystification. Consciousness allows us the right to be critical, sceptical, or even cynical.

Of course consciousness can also be false. False consciousness lacks clarity as it is muddied by its own ideologies: ideologies that stem from identities. For consciousness to be clear it needs to transcend all ideology-mask identities.

False consciousness could also be called misguided consciousness – a consciousness looking for a reality which is simply just not there, and probably never will be, is a misguided one. Consciousness needs to see through the masks, but that does not mean it must cut through all still surfaces. The cutting open can have negative results if the process itself does nothing but churn already clear waters and makes them no longer transparent.

Can we say that reality should be that which needs to be? What about want it to be? If we accept the validity of both possibilities, which is stronger: want or needs? Desires must be subject to needs. Desires can only be gained when needs are satisfied. Likewise, in order to uncover reality and therefore find truth, consciousness must be guided by needs at first and desires only when those needs are satisfied or safeguarded. The first thing consciousness must look for is necessity.



  1. Thanks for posting. Interesting discussion.

    Regarding the fourth paragraph, are you suggesting that a clear but misguided view can be better than a churned and muddy view? If someone is trying to cut through and see though their own mask, I would agree a certain muddying can occur. However, when the mud settles, wouldn’t the new view be more beneficial than the previous masked view?

  2. Thanks for your interest Charles. Yes, you’re right to be confused, the metaphor in the fourth paragraph is not one of the best I’m afraid, I’m pointing there (or trying to) to the danger of seeing masks when they are not really there. To give perhaps the clearest example, this happens with the so-called conspiracy theories. In a world that loves to lie, we can become so obsessed with trying to uncover truth that we might easily start to look for it in places that don’t need unmasking at all. My intention is to give a warning: so much time time can be wasted looking for irrelevancies when there is so much necessity around us. My belief is that we must channel our consciousness towards that necessity, which would be a kind of positive thinking. Ideologies and cultural “common-sense” based on nationalistic and sometimes racist beliefs turn our conscience away from the human. That is what I mean by the muddying. In order to see what is true and what is false from the point of view of a non-ideological consciousness, we need to anchor our own muddy consciousness in the idea of what is necessary for humanity.

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