Faux Consciousness

November 2, 2007
Posted by Jay Livingston

“False consciousness.” It’s the escape valve in Marxian theory that explains why the workers, the exploited, the oppressed, so often act, vote, and think against their own interests. They fail to see the reality of the system that exploits them. The Marxists try to enlighten the workers as to that realty, but too often, the Marxists’s target audience seems to be tuned into the Fox network. (Or is that the Faux network?)

Many years ago, I was riding the bus to work with my colleague Peter Freund. As we passed a Chicken Delight, he pointed out the window to its large iconic sign. “The perfect representation of false consciousness,” he said.

I haven’t seen that type of sign for a while, but I was reminded of it when I saw this French version of fausse conscience, posted by Polly in her expat blog.

“Members of a subordinate class (workers, peasants, serfs) suffer from false consciousness in that their mental representations of the social relations around them systematically conceal or obscure the realities of subordination, exploitation, and domination those relations embody.” (Daniel Little)

The chicken happily serving itself up on a platter to be devoured by its exploiters.

1 comment:

Polly said...

It could also be a more troubling sign of domestic violence. The big bird is, of course, le coq gaulois (Gallic Rooster) serving up a tasty hen, eager to go play soccer as soon as he's done. Mon dieu!