Where you stand decides what you can see…
Mao Tse-Tung famously said that for the frog in the bottom of the well the world is a blue circle.
For example, there is this famous argument about torture. Some people say it is a necessity. In case you interrogate a prisoner it may be the only way to extract important information… Others say it is immoral. Still others say it is counter productive, as you may extract false confessions and fill the prisons with innocent people, letting the real villains roam at large.
Still all this argument, even its humanistic and pious side, is all from the point of view of the torturers. Try to think how this argument is held on the receiving end. “Well, I’m bored of the bullshit questions… when will they bring the electrodes?”
The problem with false consciousness is that most oppressed people often think in the terms of their oppressors. Just see the anti-tax fervor in the United States, where so many people believe that giving free medical care is succumbing to the Socialist Satan. They feel too well the hole in their pocket, and they escape the much more depressing feeling how it may be when you are homeless and/or can’t afford to treat the failings of your body.
The natural curiosity to understand how people think, and why they think so, becomes an urgent need as we all engage in this twisted argument about the Syrian revolution. How could so many decent people support such a nasty dictatorship? How come so many people deafen their ears to the screams coming from the bombarded cities?
The malaise is more prevalent with the political elite. Many, from Russia’s oligarch’s master Putin to hard struggling devoted freedom fighters, see the global game more than they think of the people in the receiving end. If you were ruling your country and you had some trouble with your people, would you like anybody to interfere?
When you see me running, and three policemen running after me, will you shout “stop that thief!” and join the hunt, or will you try to make a mess to let me reach a safe hideout?