On Cultural Privilege

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Mon Jan 10 08:23:35 PST 2000

Yoshie wrote:

> The fantasy that you can construct
>anything resembling a just society that won't have any of the residual
>of the "old order" seems ridiculous to me--rejecting psychology and
>out of hand seems like a gesture of incredible privilege--or epistemic
>violence, whathaveyou.

What is "epistemic violence"? There is nothing "incredibly privileged" about being non-believers in religion and psychoanalysis. My parents didn't go to college -- my father was a steelworker, my mother has done a variety of low-wage service jobs -- but neither believes in any religion, for instance.


In reference to the incredible privilege of rejecting religion out of hand, it is true that residents of the United States are seriously underprivileged. It is indeed a privilege (most enjoyed in Japan I believe) to be an atheist by. Anyone is much better off (privileged) if he/or she never had a religion to escape. That process of escaping superstition does tend to scar people intellectually. It seems to me that Zizek, Doug, and Christian all show this scar in that their assumption is that religious thought is important until demonstrated otherwise, while for us more privileged religion is a radical proposal, not worth, prima facie, exploring. The burden of proof lies with those that think we should.

In reference to psychoanalysis, residents of the United States are more privileged than (for example) Latin Americans. Here on the whole it is only in English departments that psychoanalysis is taken seriously, and in any disccussion not dominated by those with literary training one need not even explicitly dismiss psychoanalysis because it does not enter the

discussion even as a possibility to be rejected.

However, while formal psychoanalysis is not taken seriously here, in the

last century it and other forms of psychologizing has penetrated the popular culture sufficiently that the desire to know the "whys" of this or that human behavior is as serious a part of spontaneous ideology as is the (more specifically christian) desire to know "the meaning of life." Both questions are a barrier to asking serious questions.


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