I, like political theorist Herbert Marcuse before me, want to understand how societies could go through periods of social liberation like Egypt, Tunis, and let’s not forget Lebanon which is in a vicious cycle when it comes to upheavals, and yet still remain under the (often strict) control of governments in an economical and social way: nothing or little changes ever happen, you have to wait and see it for yourself with the Arab countries.
This is because the philosophy of governments in today’s corrupt world doesn’t change even if the players change. An early example was in the 1960’s United states of America: Political theorist Herbert Marcuse was a big fan of Freud and lived through the social upheavals of the 1960s. How could the U.S. have gone through all those protests in the 60s but never actually overthrown the government? The answer, to him, was a peculiar emotional state known as “repressive desublimation.”
Freud said sublimation is when you route your sexual energies into something non-sexual. But Marcuse lived during a time when people were very much routing their sexual emotions into sex — it was the sexual liberation era, when free love reigned. People were desublimating. And yet they continued to be repressed by many other social structures, coming from corporate life, the military, and the government. Marcuse suggested that desublimation can actually help to solidify repression. It acts as an escape valve for our desires so that we don’t attempt to liberate ourselves from other social restrictions. A good example of repressive desublimation is the intense partying that takes place in college. Often, people in college do a lot of drinking, drugging and hooking up — while at the same time studying very hard and trying to get ready for jobs. Instead of questioning why we have to pay tons of money to engage in rote learning and get corporate jobs, we just obey the rules and have crazy drunken sex every weekend. Repressive desublimation!
Now, the idea of socially experimenting, engineering and channeling mass states of emotional and somewhat neutral upheavals, through the distribution and creation of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD by governments (USA in 1960s all the way up to the early 1970s) and corporations for a period when they see themselves in danger, is a repressive tool which the people in power use to keep the hoards deluded and busy. But this is not the case in our region, is it? There are no drugs, no naked hippies on the streets of “Koubri October” asking for a change from repression and poverty… to permitting sex…publically…or with John Lennon…or not…
My point is if these upheavals exist and governments (or the system) wants to channel it, or even more sinister, use it (piggy back on it), it will need the “drug of the time” tailored for the people of the time and place;
So, in a time when people, either consciously or unconsciously, want upheaval and change, in the Arab world, what are these governments, these structures and systems using to dissuade their true cause of upheaval, channel their emotions and delete their memory of why they were there in the first place. So as to remain in power.
Why is it that in Tunis and Egypt, the situation is getting to a worse place than it ever was under previous leadership. Why is it that the things people asked for have not been achieved but even more, forgotten.
Because of repressive desublimation:
They gave Egypt Morsi so that people channel their urges towards him, and the constitution (they will have many more things to use)
They gave Tunis an Alzheimer stricken old face smitten by himself.
They gave Lebanon fear and helplessness and of course religious sects
They gave Jordan a decoy too…
The lesson in this is that it is easy to manipulate structures (like societies, governments…) and it is a cycle in by itself… since maybe, we, as humans, are the manipulators… or maybe humanity has been hijacked and it’s been a while….