Infibulation,Value and Choice

douglass st.christian (stchri@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Tue, 10 May 1994 09:02:28 -0400


all this talk about oppression and hegemony and false consciousness and
coercion reminds me of Harold Garfinkle's observation that social
scientists of whatever stripe tend to treat the 'subjects' of their study
as 'judgemental dopes'.

i recall watching a film on a christian snake handler group in the U.S.
After the film, a long discussion evolved over what all this snake
handling told us about their 'psychology'. through all this, the
consensus was that a very crude fundamentalist ideology had duped them -
the snake handling christians - into beleiving a patent lie.

i think dwight reads comment about socialization 'coercing us' into doing
things we would otherwise not do is interesting because i think it goes
down the same road. that is, there is a will inherent in individual X
which is channeled, deceived, forced into beleifs and choices which are a
violation of that inherent will, a kind of culture as manipulation and
deception model of the world and of sociality. its an interesting
opposition - between the encultured and the capacity to choose - which
proposes a will to choice and judgement prior to socialization and
enculturation. if i follow this, then i arrive at the point where
everything we know and every explication we have for what we do is
fundamentally a lie because it was imposed upon us, it is an artefact of

i think this notion - of the inherent violence culture enacts on the
individual - is fascinating and speaks to issues of why culture is never
stable and of why knowledge of any sort is always and only provisional.