Casey Kitchel


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When fighting for rights, which is tougher: a battle against an oppressive government, or a battle against an oppressive society?

Manal al-Sharif opens her TED talk by asking the audience a question.

“You know that people all over the world fight for their freedom, fight for their rights. Some battle oppressive governments. Others battle oppressive societies.” And then she asks, “which battle do you think is harder?”

Fellow TEDers, which do you think is a tougher battle? And why?

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    Jun 28 2013: Repressive regimes come and go, as tyrants rise and fall. On the whole, societies either revolt against their repressive governments or they empower them. But when a repressive regime is overthrown, the replacement may be just as ruthless (e.g., Louis XVI vs. Robespierre, Nicholas II vs. Lenin, Batista vs. Castro, the Shah vs. the Ayotollah, etc.). The governments of post-Hussein Iraq and post-Gaddafi Libya, among others, have their work cut out for them, if they don’t wish to repeat history. And what will become of Saudi Arabia if the House of Saud ever loses its grip, or of North Korea when that bizarre dynastic Communist dictatorship finally falls?

    Repressive societies, on the other hand, don’t need the support of their governments for their intolerance and injustices. Here we find the usual culprits of religion and ethnicity, as well as class distinction being at the center of the repression. And in many cases, those who hold power do not see themselves as repressing the powerless. Where a despot no doubt realizes how tenuous his control may be, societies are often indifferent, if not completely apathetic to the inequities felt, and sometimes voiced by minorities within their ranks. And it is this attitude of denial that makes societal change so daunting.
  • Jun 29 2013: It's easier to battle "them" than it is to battle "us".
  • Jun 27 2013: I think that one is not tougher than the other, if and only because, the two are inherently intertwined. Is there ever an oppressive society that does not so some degree have an oppressive government. Equally does not an oppressive government create through enforcement and selective authoritarian institutions / people propaganda and thus create oppressive societies.

    What I think is hardest, is not what most people would see as hard. That being, that a right that is taken away after years of having it, is probably the hardest to regain, if ever at all. And there recently have been many examples of that in in recent years in many a democracy.

    An example. The UK used, note, I say used, to have the law that it seeded to many other places, that if you were tried and acquitted, you could not be tried for the same crime twice. A law that had been around for about 1000 years. The removal of that law went hardly unnoticed in the UK, how hard will people have to fight to get it back...

    As for America and many of it's laws that have been removed / superseded due to certain wonderfully ironic titled 'patriot' act(s). Will those freedoms ever come back?
  • Jul 1 2013: To put it simply, society. Because as social creatures our society helps define us and forms a network within which we are comfortable, and to start shaking that up divides the population. Whereas a oppressive government often vitalizes reformation movements to turn them into popular movements.
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    Jun 29 2013: I'd say it's tougher to fight a Koch funded shadow government(ALEC) supported by a judicial Junta (SCOTUS).
  • Jun 29 2013: I think the difference between fighting an oppressive government and an oppressive society is mainly down to how long it takes to achieve victory over them. Oppressive governments can be defeated within a person's lifetime, or the frame of a few lifetimes. Oppressive societies take generations to overcome, and can defy even the most highly organized forms of opposition because of that.

    Also, the period during which old behaviors still have power is greater under an oppressive society than an oppressive government. New ways of thinking have to be taught, they don't just arrive out of thin air. Unfortunately, we tend to fall back easily onto the readily perceived points of bias, which form the basis of oppressive society. The kind of universal education required to prevent that doesn't just arrive upon the defeat of an oppressive society. Until it can be developed many amongst the new generations are likely, ironically, to embrace the old instead of the new.

    Oddly, oppressive societies probably suffer the fatal aspects of their fall, relative to their lifetimes in comparison to those of oppressive governments, about as quickly as oppressive governments do. It's just that oppressive governments fall with the work of a shorter history of defiance, fewer generations of nameless people are ground under opposing them. To fight an oppressive society it takes many more people who stand up and are willing to watch their work seemingly go nowhere.
  • Jun 27 2013: I think it's easy to become rebellious against an oppressive government than it is to become defiant against the pressure of society.
    The former makes you a person who tries to retrieve the sense of justice, the latter makes you an 'idiot' or an official ‘outsider’—quite often, if you ask me.

    'God, peer pressure….!'

    Although the context of it is slightly different from what we’re talking about here, even among our peers, we get careful about challenging their pressure.

    Surely not an easy task with loneliness.
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    Jun 23 2013: It does not matter who is the oppressor.

    What prevents us from standing against the oppressor ....FEAR

    Fear to loose...

    When one is fearless, oppressor has no purcahse on you, you are their toughest opponent.

    They have the power to destroy you , you have the power to show them and the world and make them understand that they are wrong and unjust.

    Battle is won and that too permanently if that brings change of heart in oppressor whether its a governement or a society , it does not matter who is the oppressor.
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      Jun 23 2013: Nice comment Adesh. Have you ever had to fight for your beliefs or your rights? If so, please share.
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        Jun 24 2013: In country like India we always have to fight for our beliefs as well as for our right
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    Jul 6 2013: The battle against oppressive societies are tougher; in oppressive societies the victims are usually a part or group that is weak. The oppression may not even be seen as oppression because of the tyranny of the majority. In nations where women are oppressed for example, a change of government offers no hope if it is just a transfer of power to a custodian of the old order.
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    Jul 2 2013: In my opinion a battle against oppressive society is more tougher than fighting against government for your rights because It is the society that is more closer to you, It can either encourage or discourage your fight.
    Continuous motivation and a strong inspiration are two essential things before you start your fight for your rights, which you can get them easily from your nearby society.

    If your society is cooperative you may finally win your battle, but if it doesn't promotes you you will feel tired soon and that's all it takes to lose a battle.
  • Jun 30 2013: The short answer from me is: Oppressive society. The argument is that if we did not have the multitude of tendencies and actions that could collectively be called oppressive, we would probably not have as many people in governmental leadership positions exhibiting these same attributes.
  • Jun 29 2013: I think you have your answer Casey. Most societies are formed around religion, and as such have the ability to become very oppresive. Governments have been formed around common sense, and the rights of the people, but can easily become corrupted and the history rewritten so that it looks like the religion was always in charge. This is the case for the U.S. The moral majority has taken control of the republican party, and Barry Goldwaters nightmare has come true.
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      Jun 29 2013: Just remember Tim, they, (The moral majority) (???) are, first of all (not moral ) as i'm sure you've noticed. Secondly they are simply the "pigeons", (water boys) who will be crushed and discarded by the real power brokers when they have outlived their usefulness. The entire facade of "conservatism" is a (racket), Want proof? Look at the "denotation" in the dictionary, and a few "academic" descriptions of the meaning, then ask someone who identifies themselves as a conservative. You will find that most have no idea what they even stand for. It's true for the reality of "Capitalism" most conservatives have no idea what that means, no clue about the reality, and mechanisms of capitalism. If they actually understood the realities of rampant, predatory unrestrained capitalism, they would probably jump off a cliff in horror. These people have been brainwashed. and the rest are simply creatures of self indulgence who have lost whatever humanity, or compassion they may once have had. It doesn't mean that millions are not sincere, or even wonderful people, They're just really messed up, and confused. The real liars, thieves, torturers, murders, are a different kettle of fish all together.
      • Jun 30 2013: I agree Peter, I come from a very conservative democratic family, old time conservative, not new. I always found myself siding with the old time republicans on business but I was very liberal when it came to erring on the side of helping my fellow man. I am apalled that the new republicans would rather force someone to have a child, then refuse to help them out. Just doesn't make sense to hurt those really in need to weed out the bad.
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    Jun 27 2013: Uniqea stated: "...I dont believe everyone who doesnt believe in religion is bad or immoral. But I do have the morals, values, and ethics that I learned while studying religions, and I do believe in a higher power which keeps me in line and it helps me keep those morals..."

    This is good for you Uniqea. If you need this higher power to keep yourself in line it is good for you to remain attached to it. It works for you.

    However. I am a distinctly moral person and do it without any help from any higher power. To me this is proof the real action necessary to be moral and upright in the world is somehow innate within all healthy human beings. No higher power is necessary. If you remove all the writings relating to a higher power from many of the religious books, what you are left with is a fine, secular description of what is required for all human beings to live together in harmony. Further: it is good guidance for being a moral human being. A higher power is not necessary to enforce this upon humanity. Those who turn away from such religious influence discover this fact as they grow and become decent secular human beings.

    Many of the laws we follow in the US and many other modern countries were, in fact, the Laws developed and instituted in the Nation of Babylon, many centuries ago. Their laws, for the most part, were alienated from their religious beliefs.

    "Hammurabi was a king of Babylon and was best known for his 282 laws some of which we still use today. The oldest-known legal code, even older than the Ten Commandments, is credited to Hammurabi.
    He lived from 1818 B.C. to 1750 B.C. "

    Many of the ten commandments are based on these laws. Isn't that interesting?
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      Jun 29 2013: Great comment John. People who do not believe in god, are not necessarily anti god , or bad people, in fact many agnostics I've met were "some" of the most moral people I know. I would say to all my brothers and sisters who are believers in some god. Look at (your concept of god). Think of that entity as a friend. (theoretically) Understand that entity may be your friend, but at the same time wouldn't that god also have a relationship with all other human beings from a different angle, and perspective? It's not simply 2 sides to a coin but 7,000,000,000 sides 1 for every human on the planet. One person's infidel, is another's saint. Jihad, is a concept, "NOT A PHYSICAL BATTLE PLAN". Cristian's have the same concept from a different perspective. When you grow older as I have, if you've read and studied and had lots of great cups of coffee or tea with intelligent people, an amazing thing happens. "WISDOM" it teaches you that onward christian soldier doesn't mean killing infidels, it means go within yourself, inside your deepest darkest parts of your soul and rid yourself of all that is impure and against health, piety, and compassion. "That is Jihad" it happens inside your mind, inside your being, your soul, if you wish. He that kills, kills all of humanity, he that saves a life saves all humanity. Everybody just mellow out for Pete's sake. "Have a cup of tea."
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        Jun 30 2013: Thank you Peter.

        I'm 62. While I have not dined with billionaires I have with Millionaires.I've had no knowledge imparted my way that was new or insightful. I have shared thoughts with Priests and Rabbi's. I have read every religious book that is considered meaningful. And yes, I do drink tea.

        If the life you save is that of an evil person you have allowed evil to endure, along with it's impact on humanity.

        Any form of Jihad, or righteous action of God, in my opinion is nothing more but the workings of the minds of men. There is nothing saintly nor holy about it. There are two paths towards peace for mankind to take on this planet:
        1. Peace through Communication
        2. Peace through superior fire power.

        Given man's record, I'm putting my money on option two. When we have rid our minds of the fantasy's of men, perhaps we may find peace. Until then, piety, compassion and impure thoughts will be with us for a long time. We can regulate them and corral them to some degree, not necessarily all.

        The world is partitioned into separate social and cultural divisions. When we have eradicated these barriers, we may enjoin with one another to create a one world, Class I civilization. Right now we are Class zero and stand on the threshold of extinction by way of our technologies. We've loads of work ahead of us.

        We can follow the ways of ancient people who never shared our body of Knowledge and wisdom or we can put it aside and trust in the wisdom and Knowledge we have at our disposal.

        Everyone appears mellow to me. Did I miss something?
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          Jun 30 2013: You're absolutely right John. I get really pissed when someone starts to force their religious opinion on me, particularly when, someone has been told politely on many occasions that i'm not interested. What I meant in my last reply was that the concept of Jihad isn't exclusive to islam. It goes way back in human history. It's a concept that began long before so called modern religious practices, before Mohamed, Jesus, Buddha or Solomon. It's much the same process a world class athlete goes through, before they climb Everest, or win the decathlon. What I mean is that these guys running around talking about killing infidels,don't know the first thing about the concept. They just pervert it to suit their own fantasie of hate and revenge or what ever else makes them think it's allright to murder people. I'm not one to pussy foot around with thugs, and murderers. I say drop em where they stand when it's perfectly obvious they're trying to kill you. I simply feel Americans, and these fundamentalist wackos are way to trigger happy. There are so many ways to disarm these nut jobs, without starting wars, and dropping bombs. I have never had a problem with a Spiritually /Religiously oriented person as long as they respect my personal space and my view. Live and let live. I've know many a deeply spiritual person who lived dignified pious lives without ever advocating hate, violence, or anti agnostic, anti social behavior. We used to call it wisdom, dignity compassion and being civilized , being and adult.
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    Jun 24 2013: I would like to add,
    that it depends in which country we live in ....... but i think that it would be tough to fight against society in country like SAUDI ARABIA , INDIA, CHINA and many more .................. but in country like America it would be tough to fight with Government .... hope you all will understand what i said.
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      Jun 26 2013: Which situation would you prefer? Strong government, *relatively* free of corruption and oppression or a weaker government, with more corruption and oppression in the government and society? There used to be another aphorism in Russia: "severity of Russian laws is compensated by the lack of their enforcement."
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    Jun 23 2013: Is one really worse than the other? I also listened to this talk and pondered over this question. Trying to imagine myself fighting for my beliefs seems like it would be hard whether my battle was against government or society, especially government and society. It must especially be hard when you are lacking support from others. Or when your family is at risk for your beliefs. I've never been put in this type of situation yet but I can only imagine that either battle is hard regardless of who it is against.
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    Jun 19 2013: Oppressive society. Because you have no clue who is your enemy.
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      Jun 23 2013: In order to be oppressive, wouldn't members of the oppressive society have to interact with us in some fashion, revealing their identity?
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        Jun 23 2013: Yes they have to and they do. But these oppressions come veiled as ideas of family/social honor, a stereotypical role model, political ideologies like nationalism, peer pressure to conform and social memes. In such a society a parent, partner, religious leader can be the oppressor.
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          Jun 23 2013: Indeed.

          I wonder if there is some manner to measure the distinctive influences within these societies? We can perceive the incidental affects by merely observing. How could we develop a scale of measure and compare the Government vs. society, Oppressiveness variable?

          Could the number of citizens in the Prison system be an indicator? Government controls the prisons but not all prisoners are there due to collisions with the government. Most are there due to social trespasses.

          Another question: Are a countries Laws a true indicator of the wishes of a Society?
  • Jun 18 2013: Definitely an oppressive society. As a Pakistani, I usually have to deal with this. Fortunately, my family and friends are very supporting and allow me to drive, be educated and even be friends with boys, but I know that there are people who aren't so lucky.
    Fighting against the government is easy. They don't watch you all the time. A society is around you all the time and judge you all the time.
  • Jun 18 2013: A oppressive society is much harder. To be in a society where everyone is screaming freedom, but only certain groups of beliefs are able to publicly share their opinions and beliefs is sickening. Once that other group of people try to speak their beliefs they are sued or told to be quiet or immediately accused of being the oppressor.
    Its a larger crowd to fight against, its a crowd who doesn't care about professionalism because they aren't under that kind of spot light.
    I would say a oppressed society is harder to speak to. Americans are so swooped up in their own personal crap that they don't want to believe the truths, they want to keep being fed lies as long as it will keep them happy and care free.
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      Jun 23 2013: Is it just "Americans" who are full of crap? Why not other countries and societies? Why just Americans?
      • Jun 24 2013: No, its other countries. But America is the only one I know of personally because I live here, I dont or have never lived in another country to know how the people are over there, so that was my example.
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          Jun 24 2013: So, how can you attempt to compare us to others? Most people I know abhor lies and earnestly desire to know the truth. It's the "fool me once; shame on me: fool me twice: shame on you" way of looking at life that give rise to the idea we like being fooled.

          The whole idea of "Oppression" is to force people to live and behave in a certain way. We could all stand up and protest but the blunt truth is: we will be arrested and go to jail. What mother or father can afford to be separated from their children in such a way?

          Yes. American are oppressed, but it doesn't necessarily follow that we enjoy it or are content with the situation.
      • Jun 24 2013: I don't see how i was making a comparison, I was just using Americans as an example. But an example on how the american society oppress people would be Christianity. Christians are ridiculed and oppressed, their religion calls them to spread the word of God, not to influence but to inform. Society is always trying to sue other parents and schools for providing info or even speaking of God, around the holidays it is no longer appropriate to say merry Christmas, and laws are being passed that demean christian values, traditions, and practices i.e. marriage.

        I dont see where you thought I was comparing America to any other country, I was simply answering the question of is the battle tougher against an oppressive society or government and america was my example. But my honest opinion, compared to other countries, we're a few amended rights from being no different.

        Just because you and the few like minded people you surround yourself with feel oppressed doesn't mean everyone in america feels that way. There are some people who are happy rights are being taken away, they feel safe, some people want more rights taken away from other groups of people, we still have racism here, we have people who are pro abortion and others who are pro life, we have people that believe certain classes in society should have more rights than others, we have people who believe gays should be brainwashed straight, its some people who want all immigrants to go back to their countries. And some people are just indifferent to it all. To say our society can't be oppressive is absurd, I mean, if that's what you're saying...
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          Jun 24 2013: I was in a bad situation in Virginia one day in my life. It was Christians who helped me out. I didn't see anyone else trying to help.

          I've been in many bad situations in my life, always, it was Christians who were willing to help. No one else was willing. Now, we have Atheist churches. At last there is some competition for doing good in the world.

          I hear how Christians are brutalizing all of society everyday, yet, I never see it myself. I sometimes wonder if I'm blind? I'm not a Christian and doubt I could ever be one.

          I know some of them can be a pain in the behind but why throw the dog out with the wash-water?

          I understand that you don't see the comparison I was alluding to Ms. Monie. It is more of an inference in your writing, rather than an outright testament in what you said.

          Think of it this way. How do you know that sugar is sweet unless you have bitter to compare it to?

          You said: "Americans are so swooped up in their own personal crap that they don't want to believe the truths, they want to keep being fed lies as long as it will keep them happy and care free."

          I noticed that the word Americans was plural, indicating all Americans or at least a whole bunch of them. I also notice that the mental attribute you were attaching to them was not good one:

          "...swooped up in their own personal crap...", "they don't want to believe the truths, they want to keep being fed lies as long as it will keep them happy and care free..."

          It's not a good description of a harmonic society. The comparison appears almost immediately as you compare good to bad. "Good" was not necessarily mentioned but, "inferred" by contrast.

          It just kinda jumped out at me as I read your comment. So that is how it appeared to me that you were making a comparison. :)
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          Jun 26 2013: Re: "Americans are so swooped up in their own personal crap that they don't want to believe the truths, they want to keep being fed lies as long as it will keep them happy and care free."

          Does it apply to "other Americans" or to you as well? How do you know that information on which you base your statement is not a lie? You speak of "society" as of "them". Aren't you a part of "society"?

          Re: "laws are being passed that demean christian values, traditions, and practices i.e. marriage." Marriage is not exclusively Christian practice. Non-Christians marry as well. Every culture has its own traditions around marriage. It would be absurd to force everyone marry "Christian way". Nobody forces Christians to marry same-sex partners or force the Church to conduct same-sex weddings. So, why do Christians feel compelled to dictate how and whom to marry to non-Christians?

          How do you interpret the following quote from New Testament:
          "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."
          Do you think, this Christian tradition needs to be kept (even within the Church)?

          To whom does this passage apply - to others or to ourselves?
          "“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

          Well, actually, to say "you hypocrite" to another person is hypocrisy and judging. Something to think about.
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          Jun 26 2013: Arkady, are these sorts of assumptions/claims not practically always about "the (unenlightened) Other?"
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          Jun 27 2013: Uniqea, I understand the utter despair of seeing a world you grew up in desegregate around you, being ridiculed for enjoying things you were brought up to believe. It's a form of heartbreak, especially if that world appeared full of love, affection and joy.

          It was the society I was raised up in when I was a child. During a few brief years as a young man, not long returned the War in Vietnam, there was a time of great salvation in the whole country of the United States of America. It was a time when it appeared the whole country was turning back towards it's religious, christian roots. The Out-Law-moteorcycle gangs were converted to Christianity. It was a time when John Leneon was singing spirituous songs and the whole word appeared long for peace on earth.

          It all fell apart in the 80's. Religion in schools was questioned heavily and the secular movement came in full force. It was the beginning of the decline for religious zealotry.

          I understand it is only natural for someone to want to preserve that which felt good in their lives. But, times change. We live in progressive times and we are looking for solutions that are not so sacredly defined. We don't wont to wait for a solution we want to build one ourselves. It is only natural to want these things also. To those of us who see a increase in secularism, it is just as joyful and comfortable as it is for those who live a different way.

          Living without a faith in the hereafter or a godlike being is not something to be afraid of. It just taking responsibility for your own actions. We are still human with human emotions like love and affection and an Ernest desire to help others.

          Yes, I miss Christmas, not the sacredness of that day; I miss the joy and family gatherings associated with that day. We still practice Christmas but we don't use the religious trappings. It has no religious meaning to me. I still like to see people smile and be happy.
      • Jun 27 2013: This country was founded and fought for on the basis of religious freedoms. The laws placed and the rights given are on the basis of religion. You take out our foundation, and now we have a mess of corruption and devil worshiping propaganda all over the place. Smh. You can't just pull out a bunch of blocks at the bottom of the tower and expect the tower to remain standing.
        I do not believe everything I hear regarding religion, i do not believe everything in the Bible or any religious book is entirely true. I dont believe that I should just wait around for God for things to happen, or that I can do wrong all day and ask for forgiveness later, its unrealistic. I am accountable for my own actions. I dont believe everyone who doesnt believe in religion is bad or immoral. But I do have the morals, values, and ethics that I learned while studying religions, and I do believe in a higher power which keeps me in line and it helps me keep those morals. I feel that everyone should have that, and they dont, and they're being shielded away from it. The government can't teach morals, and Christians are ridiculed and ignored for doing so, other people are labelled paranoid conspiracy theorists.
        Every other country keeps their religion(s) in the positive light, we dont, we celebrate removing religion from things... We celebrate removing morality from our lives, everything is about sex and drugs and gluttony and now we praise satanic symbols in our media. Our government is full of sociopaths, our military and police is full of psychopaths, we have the most incarcerated people in the world, our country is going straight to hell, you dont see that?
        It's not about being against change, Im all for change, we don't need to go back to killing people in the name of God, but we have no guidance for our behaviors as a whole.
  • Jul 13 2013: Both the same.

    Many tell me 'there is nothing you can do' governments will always win and abuse their power. So stick your head in the sand do nothing just suck it up.

    Personally I hate this attitude. A complaint is a way of making things better for all.

    We need a complaints process that is allowed to Enforce their own Act. Australia's Human Rights process cannot Enforce its own Disability Discrimination Act 1992 as it is mediation only. Just about no one bothers to do a HR complaint anymore because. Council's - complaints process is just as dismal, as the supposed watchdog is just an excusionist .

    People are afraid to support + join those trying for better rights as they get retribution, payback, blacklisted etc.

    Sad and counterproductive system run by a few with vested interests.

    We'd be better going back to a time when the Elders of the village/community all sat down and heard complaints and made a joint decision.
  • Jul 13 2013: If we are ever going to get to the bottom of real issues, we need to be able to go much deeper than this.

    Society is actually grown, not built. We cannot simply stack independent blocks on top of or around each other in an array and say that it is truly representative of reality. On the contrary, evolution suggests it is a multi-causal process, and not by any means a linear one.

    Ideologies branch off of each other like roots in the ground, and roots seek out water and nutrients in order to survive. People are no different...for where people feel fed, they will congregate and attempt to flourish. This is a major draw to religion. However, the unchangeable ideologies and stories contained within their scriptures presents a naturally fractal pattern from developing, and intellectual evolution ceases to exist because the stories are merely repeated over and over again, while those that follow them continue to expect a different result by repeating them even more.

    People will fight as long as they feel threatened. It's a primal instinct, and it will cause them to increase in size, volume, and motion, just as any threatened animal does. So, at the core of feeling threatened is fear, but there are many types of fear.

    A few fears readily evident by the tunnel vision that is mimicked by the pattern of the "straight and narrow" are these:

    1. The Fear of God
    2. The Fear of the Devil
    3. The Fear of Change (which is firmly embedded into the idea of an unchanging and invisible deity, as it is the classic presentation of the flight response).
    ...and ultimately, a society that cannot bring itself to change is subject to the final occluding fear:
    4. The Fear of Things Staying the Same.

    Address fear, and you will address the problems people have with government, for at the end of the day, people simply want to feel as if they truly matter.
  • Jul 6 2013: In my humble opinion, they are essentially one in the same. I believe the real fight against oppression starts with our 'oppressive' human nature that forms CULTURES of oppression.

    The logic; oppressive relationships form oppressive cultures, which develop into oppressive societies which establish oppressive institutions such as 'governments.'

    My logic is from a post-modernist point of view, (give me a case for another one, and I'll consider it.) Governments are 'constructs' of people. We had to collectively agree on what a government's form and function was before we established one, with power to oppress its constituency. Who decided we needed one? Look at the definition of 'govern' and you'll see, its arguably a synonym for 'oppress.'

    Likewise, the constituents, had to agree collectively on what 'society' was before it became so powerful. The definition of society is "a group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture."

    Our culture too, was formed by people with mutual interests, participating in characteristic relationships right? One mutual interest was survival, relationships are essential for survival. (Contrary to the myth of 'Independence' propagated by white Western culture) Relationships are oppressive when one individual or group has power over the other by physical force and or by controlling resources needed for survival.

    Look around, relationships commonly involve an imbalance of power. Historically, it was physical dominance of man over woman, so he got to set up the first institutions. Maybe its oil or education now, but its still power, don't be fooled by the 'curtain' of democracy used to hide the great and powerful Oz calling the shots.

    So... until we create truly egalitarian relationships, we will always develop oppressive societies and governments. The oppression to fight is in our nature,the man in the mirror
  • Jul 2 2013: I would say a battle against an oppressive society. The government and laws of a country can only reflect the thinking of society.
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    Jun 28 2013: They are intertwined because the government comes from the people and if society is oppressive the government will be. On the other hand, power can corrupt the most honest people and they can become oppressive governments. Society has to be strong enough to resist corruption from the government. Life is a struggle and we cannot sit back and not take part. Everyone needs to be alert so that oppression can be stamped on if it rears its' ugly head.
  • Jun 27 2013: battle against society will be easy because no one will readily oppose such movements, but history tells that they will be long battles but not so fruitful.
    In case of battle against oppressive government, they will take some time but surely fructify in the course of time.

    Governments[even oppresive ones] are vulnerable to social dynamics or "The Change". Societies can change their way of oppresion with time.
    regarding the refered article, islamic world now need another hero like "kamal pasha" of turkey.
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    Jun 27 2013: Casey, I am from the USA. Not generally known as a oppressive society. I can only guess at the real truths. It would be my opinion that a oppressive government is dependent upon the oppressed to assist in its control. If stories I have heard of Russia during its darkest periods are true, then the government had people (party members) who were stationed at bus stops, depots, etc to report any and all events. Also party members would "spy" on their neighbors and report their actions to the party.

    If I were to use strict definations: A coup can be conducted against a repressive government .... however .... a repressive society would mean that the majority of the society favors the status quo. Thus making the society the tougher battle.

    I can however, be thankful for where I am.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jun 26 2013: I view government in a (socio-mathematical) way sometimes. Our governments are composed of our (beliefs& superstitions) + (our individual participation) + (aggregate advantage) divided by (reality) X (force). Simply put, it means you have to fight for what you want. The milk of human kindness though a real phenomena, is overshadowed by the mad rush for our individual piece of the survival pie. There is a COSMIC SIZED GAP of wealth in the world , particularly in the UNited States between the insanely, absurdly rich, and the middle class. Median income is $40,000. Try living on that in most cities, especially if you have children. The actual poor, which now represents 26% of children in the US, and 40%+ of families are never even discussed, or represented in the corrupt, insipid main stream media, and certainly not in congress. The constant drum beat of (government good), (government bad) glides over the virus attacking us. Government is neither good, nor bad, but a tool of (organization). Currently it has become an insidious tool of repression, and theft of biblical proportions. It has become a growing (neo fascist international conspiracy) to extract trillions of dollars worth of human, and natural resources to enrich the narrowest of corporate elites, criminal cartels, inhumane self serving banks, and their minions in congress. It is an amalgam of high stakes corporate greed and international criminal cartels, who skirt the laws of every nation. We are currently in a headlong rush to corporate feudalism, and extinction. You have to take what you want! They will never give up their power without a vicious fight. "Peaceful resistance will defeat them, but it's gonna hurt." "Peace!"
  • Jun 26 2013: The only difference between an "oppressive government" and an "oppressive society" is that an "oppressive government" is merely a more visible arm of the underlying "oppressive society". Thus, in theory, since the "government" is less than the whole of a "society", the "government" would be easier to fight.
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      Jun 27 2013: Exactly!

      An oppressive society also presents a stronger 'psychological pressure' on its victims.
  • Jun 24 2013: Hi Casey,
    I think in either case, so much is dependent on how the battle is fought - alone, or as a group.

    A single individual fighting against an oppressive society or government, is in a weak position, unless that person has a following of passionate believers (I'm thinking especially of Mandela right now...)

    Freedom Fighters initiate resistance movements, as a group:

    I think the 'harder battle' comes down to support, or lack of it. Someone can feel strongly about a cause, but fighting a battle alone - regardless against whom - is in my opinion the hardest.
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    Jun 23 2013: oppression is indeed very hurting, none would accept it whether from government or from societies, however when it comes from government the only thing that they can give back to you in return on maximum is to put you in jail, but in societies things are more tougher, the prison of government is always better than societies' prison.
  • Jun 23 2013: Hi Dear Casey Kitchel:),Two months ago,I read a book:'Pedagogy of the oppressed' by Paulo Freire.I read it in chinese translation.Unfortunately I couldn't find it's version in english.When we fight for rights,we try to join in the society to show our opinions around.And meanwhile there isn't winner or loser,as well as neither oppressor or oppressed people,We,Gov,Society are the whole world.The more we are aware of it the more we will can see the world is going to be better.It all depends on people's education
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    Jun 18 2013: it's a little hard for me to imagine that you could have an oppressive society, but not an oppressive government. Can you explain how this can be?
  • Jun 17 2013: The rise and fall of the Third Reich took less than two decades. The Soviet Union lasted less than a century. In contrast, the struggle for equal rights for women, people of color and homosexuals has continued for centuries. Oppressive societies are the more difficult opponent, by far.
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    Jul 15 2013: An oppressive government is in my opinion part of an oppressive society
    • Jul 17 2013: If your opinion held true then we wouldn't be able to look back on history and see countless examples of tyrannical governments. Society tends to be played by government like a fiddle being played by a master musician.
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    Jul 14 2013: Society. by a large margin. really really huge margin.
    1. Let's start with the developing world for my first example. It is illegal to kill people in just about every country. but I have personally witnessed something horrific that was perpetrated by ordinary folk in India. A couple living together in the neighborhood was discovered to have eloped and the wife had left her husband in a different state. The neighbors got together and locked the couple inside and set the hut on fire. this was around 1983.
    2. 2002 USA being belittled and called a terrorist supporter at a halloween party for wearing an indian costume and then getting my car keyed before I left.
    3. 2007, 8 or 9 The government had just outlawed corporal punishment in indian schools. Not one teacher stopped in the school where I taught. I was called to the principal's office for breaking all the switches I found on the teacher's table. After chastising me, the principal then used a metal ruler to beat a 2nd grader for not doing his homework. This particular student was the son of the teacher who sent him to the office, because her own beatings weren't doing the trick.
    4. about a year later: A husband beat his wife right out in the street and there was blood pouring onto the ground and her hair was matted from it. I pull out my cell phone to call the police. The neighbors standing in a circle watching the spectacle grab my phone out of my hand. "you should not interfere between a husband and wife because of the credo "my husband is the god I can see"
    • Jul 15 2013: Manishka....that is terrible and I hate to read stories like this. I was in India in 1972 and the shock of the poverty has remained with me all my life and I help where/when I can.

      India has around 150 million millionaires an Indian friend of mine tells me. He came here as a student runs a taxi business and his wife works for the government and they have only 2 children.

      He says the rich in India pay no or little tax and do not support their poorer people. The rapes of the women there is just disgusting and a real turn off for attracting much need tourism.

      India and many other countries just have too many children and therefore the poverty and low status of women. Kids sold into prostitution or domestic slaves, or roaming the streets begging. Not good enough.

      My wish is that the Gates foundation & Medecines san Frontiere can help supply Bayer microchip contraception for women which lasts 5 yrs. and costs $8.10. With less children the status of women then improves.

      A Ghanan doctor has started this program in Africa (Ghana). In first year prevented 500,000 unwanted pregnancies and saved something like 40,000 women dying in childbirth.

      I was widowed young and I could only afford one child, he has done well climbing the corporate ladder. I just wish every child in the world could have a decent life , education, food, medical, home.
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        Jul 15 2013: Karmel, Absolutely agree, population control would help. India could actually take care of it's own issues if the rich got involved. but the rich that stay here are the ones benefitting from this culture.-
        The caste system encouraged giving blind respect to those of a higher caste. This means you don't evaluate people as individuals. The higher castes have a sense of entitlement to whatever they can get from the lowers... cheap labor, bribes.

        India also has a huge brain drain.. the ones that leave the country are more educated, but generally don't come back. Why? Its too hard to fight here. too hard to accomplish anything. They leave, find a completely different world outside, and never come back.

        They end up being successful outside. Why? the same predatory culture they've grown up with is exactly how you get ahead in business.

        A social responsibility movement could do wonders. But social responsibility needs to first be explained. One time I spoke about it, someone told me how much gold they gave to the temple. And when I asked how the temple spends it, he said "to build more temples or to beautify the existing one."
        Me "do they do anything to help people?"
        Him "no"

        The rapes in the news...The feeling I get here is of territory. The male marking his territory. Women should not go out at night unless escorted by a male family member. Rapes happen to women who are seen with a "boyfriend".

        In the end, it's not the government that's the enemy, it's society.

        P.S. I have only one child too :) It's a good number for the world we live in. Did you mourn for his lonely playdays at home? I did.
        • Jul 15 2013: Being a single Mum it was hard to leave him, in those days there was no single mothers payment I had no choice but to get out to work....or starve. Often I worked 2 jobs 24/7. My Mother stepped in and looked after him and my brothers daughter. Mum used to walk them to school and back. While babysitting Mum taught the 2 kids to read and write and do math and I credit her one on one teaching for him getting a scholarship to University (college).

          My Dad was not well enough from WWII injuries to accompany me out at night. My brother too busy attending his child and sick wife. Often I would have to come home from work at night by myself.

          Western countries do not have the 'family' network. My nearest cousin lives 3 hours away and 2 overseas.

          I will say though that some of our girls/women should show a bit more modesty in clothing. and behaviour. Awful to nowadays see young girls/women going out at night getting drunk in niteclubs or on the street and falling over drunk or drugged.
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        Jul 16 2013: Sounds like you had it tough. I do feel that families are still close in the west, at least some that I have seen. Distance is certainly there, but the view I take is that living further away from your hometown forces independence and also a larger view of the world. I don't know what the answers are, children, especially 10 years old or less need their grandparents and cousins around.
  • Jul 14 2013: I'd say Society. Government is a more organized institution and you kind of have a rough standard procedure laid out. But that is not the case with society. It is like fighting and negotiating with your own inner demons. You never know when who takes control. And when you're tackling society, you never see a clear opponent, which will be the conceptions and beliefs shelved deep in the brains of its members.
  • Jul 13 2013: In the western world, it is pretty easy to flow against the grain of society without any major repercussions, so an oppressive government would be a much tougher issue, however, sine we westerners have so much freedom, an oppressive government would be met by and equally vengeful society. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the eastern world. Religious governments are far to unstable and oppressive.
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    Jul 11 2013: I posted here a while back. I still don't get the difference. Societies are independent of their governments. But governments arise from the societies wherein they reside. So what exactly is the key issue here and how do we bring clarity to the question(s) that are asked here.
    • Jul 13 2013: Eventually, society and government become two separate powers. Despite government arising from society, it doesn't take to long before government starts trying to write the rule book.
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        Jul 13 2013: I thought that was the whole point of government in the first place. Governments write & enforce the laws. And as we all know, laws are written a RULES to be followed.

        @Kevin Jacobson - Yeah! it's never really as simple or as straightforward as we might like it to be.
        • Jul 13 2013: Well, I based what I stated on the belief that government and society should be one in the same that is, it should be by the people, for the people. If we were governed in this fashion, we would never have to worry about the government legislating silly laws or becoming tyrannical. In other words, people don't oppress themselves, but governments will oppress people. Having a governing body that is separate from society is one of the most outrageous things invented by man.
  • Jul 10 2013: Honestly. I believe the battle against an oppressive society is much tougher... the reason behind that? because most of the time your not even aware your oppressed... Or by the time you do realize you are oppressed (mature enough through educaiton and worldview) you already feel like it's part of your life and there is little you can do about it. With an oppressive government it is way easier to spot and do something against because there is a target and a symbol. But with society, the ones that shapes it are your parents, grandparents, friends, and family. It's easier to stand against a government that is unrelated to you but to stand up to your friends and neighbors is a whole different story
  • Jul 10 2013: I believe you can only fight against an oppressive government only when and if your society is no longer oppressive... they are interrelated! So surely your first battle would have to be against the oppressive society
  • Jul 6 2013: Oppressive governments are worse because they use our own money to finance their schemes against us. Many people believe governments are good no matter what evil they commit, especially if a democracy or republic. While much that is oppressive needs the consensus of society to enforce, the elitists in power control the media and schools at all levels. They present their views as those that enlightened people must hold or pander to base instincts to ridicule their opposition. The more intelligent and aspiring parrot these views to gain membership in the club that disdains the unwashed masses. Others snicker at the "out crowd", those who hold views different from those promoted by the elitists.
    Our society grows more polarized--divisions are encouraged to divert our attention from the ever encroaching state.
  • Jul 4 2013: Thirty years ago my answer wou;ld've been an easy "harder to fight society."
    But I think it's come that the government now has more information, control, influence, laws, regulations, etc. over us -- and, is increasingly seeking (and sometimes, demanding) the aid of those close to us.
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    Jul 2 2013: Question here this the work of an oppressive society, oppressive Govt or BOTH?
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    Jul 1 2013: "This is why we have laws in the US to provide a jury of our peers because any one individual has personal biases that will always effect their judgement but a jury made up of many people that have no personal interest in the case are more likely (but not always) to render an unbiased decision. " ~ LaMar Alexander

    Yes, I agree. OJ Simpson is a case in point. Someone else has come out and taken credit for the killings OJ was accused of.

    The Jury found him not guilty. I wonder if the Domestic case against him will be reopened? In that case he was found guilty by a jury of his peers. One says innocent, one says guilty. Luck of the draw?
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    Jul 1 2013: Arkady, you said: "...Religion is interesting to me because it makes me think about commandments like these. I agree that it's impossible to accept them without context. E.g. "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." sounds like a recipe for a financial ruin...
    I understand your stance on Religion. I agree is is good to know all things.I'm currently reading Jacques Ellul a Christain Antiarchist. He draws strict distinctions between what concerns a christian god and what is totally within the domain of a Human to fully exercise their will upon.

    He states about Technology:"It is useless, he argues, to think that a distinction can be made between technique and its use, for techniques have specific social and psychological consequences independent of human desires. There can be no room for moral considerations in their use:“ Not even the moral conversion of the technicians could make a difference. At best, they would cease to be good technicians. In the end, technique has only one principle, efficient ordering."

    According to him, there is the domain of God and the things that are God's and the domain of men and the things that belong to men. Being morally upright has nothing to do with the science or tools we create. How we use those tools can be a consideration. If we use them to oppress our neighbors, we are doing a bad thing, in Ellul's eyers.

    Ellul, of course was one of Ted Kaczynski's (the Unabomber, a child prodogy), main inspirations.Ellul was also a French Resistance fighter during WWII.
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    Jul 1 2013: In my opinion, when fighting for rights, is thougher the battle against selfishness, against the illegal economic interests, against classist prejudices, against ignorance and against racial hatred. No matter where these conditions, are, whether in Government or in society.
  • Jul 1 2013: If our 7 billion people had a brain that functions just like all of our individual brain, what would the analysis be? Is wanting to stuff your face with pounds and pounds of delicious chocolate considered and oppressive part of a normal brain? It could be considered the potential consequences, although I don't mind having that oppressive regime lurking in some country in my brain. Does the Chocolate Country and the physical and emotional elements patriotic to its cause Ok with the Road Rage Country? I suspect that Chocolate knows that it could provide some soothing aid to Road Rage, but it also knows that Road Rage, another mildly oppressive and basically harmless regime, has to fight its own battles as well with Empathy Country (which tells it that maybe that car is doing 32 in a 50 mph zone because , maybe, there's a small child in the back seat who is wriggling out of his belt and a large, venomous snake will strike at precisely 33 mph), as well as battling Tired Of Lack Of Common Sense and Reason Country, which is mostly frustrated all the time because no one actually has manners anymore, no one really gives a damn and no no one really focuses on what is best for other people and not themselves.
    Kinda sounds like our world in a very small way, doesn't it? Oppression is only oppression when the difference between oppression and freedom is a matter of perspective and desire.
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    Jun 30 2013: Peter Mullen,

    Good for you. Keep up the good work. If you want to contact me and get real into this conversation, you can reach me at my email address. It's okay. Sometimes we get up about our beliefs. Besides, we, here in western society, are not concerned with Jihad and other Islamic misconceptions about justice and violence. It is the citizens of those countries that have to live with that stuff. They appear to be a tad upset at this time and protesting about their dissatisfaction. I support them.
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      Jul 3 2013: I try to be extremely careful about generalizations, though I screw up once in a while. In every islamic country there are millions who don't buy any of this "violent Jihadist" garbage. The vast majority of Muslims are just like any of us. They want ( "peace, and a piece ) That means they also want a piece of life outside of poverty and endless struggle. The nature of Islamic governments tends to be "patriarchy" domination by men. That leads to a society that simply by default focusses on issues of men, instead of considering the sensible and legitimate rights of women. That means EDUCATION, family planning, birth control, protection from rape, and violence from dominating men living in the middle ages. It means the millions of young Egyptians half of which are under 30 are tired of living on ($2 dollars a day), thats the average wage. Think about that. Cairo was one of the most beautiful cities in the world many years ago. Then along comes the ultra right wing clueless corporate lawyers in the CIA that said. "Lets prop up this scumbag dictator Mubarak for 30 years to keep these "inconveniences" from starting any trouble. That among many other stupid moves is what has lead to the situation we have today. They, the ultra right wingers who make up the upper ranks of the CIA never seem to get the message. Then they don't really give a rats patoot about anybody, just what lines the pockets of their corporate friends. The agency needs an enema I think. Let a younger more broadly educated more worldly group take the reigns. Things don't have to be this way. We can have security and peace. People need jobs, and enough to live in dignity, not twisted fascist oppression dealt by pupet dictators.
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        Jul 3 2013: Answer to Peter below:

        While we are learning all this stuff Peter, perhaps we might help one another from time to time.

        It serves us little to know all there is about everything if we can't apply it to our everyday lives.

        What does Arizona have in common with the Middle East? Arizonians are a bit oppressed by their government aren't they?
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          Jul 3 2013: The population of the middle east has exploded. When added to the rest of the world we now have 7,000,000,000. That's billion with a "B"from 2.3 billion in 1940. By 2050 it will be 9.1 billion There isn't going to be any reverting back to any nomadic anything, the environment will never support it. We will be more international, interdependent, and urban than ever in human history. The pure inescapable realities of resource allocation will dictate that. There wil be far more international cooperation, if for no other reason than to prevent endless resource wars, which have already begun in earnest. I think it's hilarious, in a sick twisted sort of way, that fascists started a totally unnecessary war in Iraq to steal the oil. Now we see the Chinese coming in and consuming up to 60% of the oil leaving Iraq. As Forest Gump says, "stupid is as stupid does". I beg all of my fellow earthlings to learn as much about science as humanly possible, as soon as humanly possible. We are on the cusp of a cosmic revolution in chemistry ,biology, computer science, bio mimicry, alternative energy production, and all the other aspects of science that has the "potential " to save our skins. That's only if each and every one of us puts aside our superstitions, and fear of the unknown. Watching TED talks is certainly a great start, but each and every one of us needs to have a basic understanding of the realities of science. It's is totally insufficient to simply wait for professional scientists to solve all the problems. All people young, and old should be taking advantage of thousands of free lectures on every scientific field imaginable. Sources are endless. (MIT open courseware), (Berkley online lectures series), Chemistry, physics biology, it's all free. You don't need a degree to make a difference all you need is knowledge and perspiration.
  • Jun 30 2013: Thanx
  • Jun 29 2013: I've lived in a hugely oppresive society for years. The problem is the government. Like Hitler said, "Give me control of the textbooks, and I control the state."
  • Jun 27 2013: If oppressive governments didn't exist, perhaps oppressive societies wouldn't need to exist?
  • Jun 27 2013: One can find all answers to the questions in this discussion by analysing social and political structure of INDIA.
    Infact political scenario in real situation is one of the products of Social structure. hence when there is oppressive society, there exists an oppressive government.
    In India, there is a "Caste System"[its mother "varna system" is present alll along India's history]. People in this conversation can google about this system and their effects.
    In short, India has a super oppressive society and a oppressive government[what ever party. it is headed by high caste and dynasty politicians]. But, the government wears a "liberal mask", in which, claim for rights will be heard but there wont be any action.
    In most of the countries, governments and political parties are funded, managed and even headed by bussiness men. In such situations, obviously nothing can go against them.but there is worst.. they become almost omnipotent and prey on public funds.
    Media can never go against it especially local media with ground level access[refer "noam chompsy"].
    we can find our answers in real situations.
    But here i have some questions:
    1. despite mankind knowing solar energy as clean energy and will be our final resort, why there are not many solar cars[if any]? why did it not emerge as an alternative[atleast in some viable cases] to oil? what is the "The Super Power" doing about it?
    2. Every year we atleast one economic nobel laureate. why arent their theories applied in any part of the world[in significant scale]?

    These answers to these questions[or simply the questions themselves] will tell you the answer that, best of the best governments also are puppets in hands of [partially]oppressive societies. those governments will be sheild to such societies.
    • Jul 1 2013: Question #1: There are no viable solar cars, buses, airplanes, etc, because there is not enough energy in the couple square meters of area that a car can provide for solar cells. In addition, solar cells are also terribly inefficient, somewhere in the 15% efficiency range. Finally, solar cars only function during peak sun, so driving to work on a cloudy day at 6 AM just won't work...nor does driving after sunset (actually, you would lose reasonable power long before sunset).
      Question #2: If you took the entire state of New Mexico and covered it with solar cells you could generate most of the electricity needed during the day for the US. That's 121,589 square miles. And that power is only good between a hour or two after sunrise and before sunset. On a bright day with no clouds in the sky.

      What you could maybe do is build a belt of solar around the globe, maybe a few thousand miles wide and 25,000 miles long. We could all share the part of the belt that's in sunlight (if it was sunny).

      Forget solar. It is expensive and inefficient.
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        Jul 14 2013: Supergrid! If people invested in that expensive innefficient technology now, and switched away from fossils, The message would be clear. With the battle lost, the investors in fossil would have to find other places to put their money. Then we'll see how long solar stays innefficient.
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    Jun 26 2013: Fritize said: "Arkady, are these sorts of assumptions/claims not practically always about "the (unenlightened) Other?""

    Fritize I know you were speaking to Arkady but I would be interested in a clear explanation of what you are asking? I"m a little confused, perhaps because it was not addressead to me.

    For instance, what or who is the "unenlightened" other?
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      Jun 30 2013: Sorry, I missed Fritzie's comment because it wasn't in reply to mine.

      I agree with Fritzie. When we blame others of oppression, injustice, immorality, lack of understanding, we rarely see those vices in ourselves. I guess, this is what the Biblical "do not judge" passage is about which, ironically, calls other people "hypocrites" for not seeing the plank in their own eye, thereby judging those people.
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        Jun 30 2013: Arkady Grudzinsky, I disagree with this: "When we blame others of oppression, injustice, immorality, lack of understanding, we rarely see those vices in ourselves. I guess, this is what the Biblical "do not judge" passage is about which, ironically, calls other people "hypocrites" for not seeing the plank in their own eye, thereby judging those people. "

        It is precicely because we see the virtures and passion of restraint within ourselves that we can effectively judge others. There are some bad peolple out that there and we can"t simply ignore them because we don't want to be labled a "Judge". Sometimes, we have to make snap judgements and someone looses their life.

        It is what it is and we are what we do.

        It is along this line that I question the validaty of such religious works which appear to apply commands that are not situational, aware. Such commandments as thou shall not steal don't fit in well in a society that is interdependent on one another or tragidy sparks someone to break a store window to find food or equipment to deal with the situation, such as happened in Hurricane Katrina, and other situations. Over-scopped commandsments are not indicutive of some omnipresent entity that could forsee these variations in what is really stealing or killing. If I had written that particular commandment, I probably would have worded it differently.
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          Jul 1 2013: Religion is interesting to me because it makes me think about commandments like these. I agree that it's impossible to accept them without context. E.g. "Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." sounds like a recipe for a financial ruin. Besides, what if someone asks me to give him drugs or something else that will hurt that person?

          I don't take "do not judge" as an advice to have no moral principles. It seems to be a command to apply the moral principles to ourselves first and foremost. Otherwise, if we see others as "bad people" and not ourselves, we will condemn terrorists who killed civilians with airplanes and proceed to killing civilians with drones in a self-righteous effort to "fight terrorism".

          It is my understanding that one of the points of Christianity is to take commandments in their context and look at the spirit of the law rather than the letter.
  • Jun 26 2013: Yes Societal oppression can very difficult - but government oppression can be just as difficult - check out Emile Zola and the Dreyfus case or the Stalin regime.
  • Jun 26 2013: I just used Americans as an example... I cant speak for other people in other countries, because Im not in other countries. I, myself, being an American in America, find a hard time telling what I know to be true to other Americans without indifferent attitudes. Yes, it would apply to me, as once upon a time it was difficult for anyone to get me to adopt a new idea that did not agree with one I already have or come up with a compromise between the two.
    Am I pointing fingers at all Americans? Of course not, we are all different, but just seeing people's attitudes and behaviors on AMERICAN tv towards a person exercising their religious faiths in the public or speaking what they know to be true, people can be oppressive, and it is more difficult to deal with than the government.
    I am not religious, so Im not defending christianity or anything, it was an example. I see non-believers get married in a church, why get married in a church if you dont believe? Why get married using the bible or any other religious book if you dont believe? What good are your vows if you dont believe in the faith behind it? That's all Im saying... For those who separate their marriage completely from God, and separate their wedding completely from any and all religious tradition, it doesnt apply. My statement does not apply to everyone, and I did not mean to judge society or Americans as a whole, nor did I mean to come off as if I were judging, I was using examples that i know within a country I know.
    As times change so should we and our life styles and the rules of our land, as I said before Im not religious, I dont believe the Bible holds all truths, but just the truths of those who wrote and interpret it. Again, thats just MY opinion.
    Christians feel compelled to spread and practice their truths and they are oppressed. IN fact, a couple of weeks ago my boss gets a call from her kids school bout her 6 yr old saying grace with his friends. This is always happening
    • Jun 26 2013: Given your example,you must also approve of the suicide bombers who feel they are doing doing Allah's will. When Christians impose their "truths" on me, then they are very un-american and are similar to Senator Joe McCarthy -
      • Jun 27 2013: What? LOL! You guys are taking my examples too far... smh.
        You're over analyzing what I said, so Im not going to keep repeating myself.
        You cant compare a suicide bomber to someone praying, that's ridiculous.
        No I dont must approve of suicide bombers...
        • Jun 28 2013: praying or demanding that everyone in their class pray with them? that has been my experience and that is forcing people to worship that individual's God. If done, quietly, I have no problem imposing their morals on me or my children, I have a major problem and this is what suicide bombers are trying to do.
    • Jun 27 2013: First, marriage isn't religious in nature, the religious have just taken it as their own. Second, and I cannot stress this enough, it is the religious that oppress non religious in this country. The battles you see against religions in general are long overdue, and are usually done too late. We never should have allowed our country to put "In God We Trust" on our money, or under God in the pledge, these are just a few religious revisions that are out there.
      • Jun 27 2013: I never read about a teacher getting sued for saying there was no God, I have however read the opposite a few times...
        This country was not founded on the grounds of people wanting to be secular. As other countries were founded and practice their own religions.
        I bet, if America were to be the secular country they're trying so hard to become, while all the other countries are still practicing their religions, we'd be the next country to fall.
        Godlessness, or just the belief that there's no one to answer to, or there isn't a need for lifestyle and moral guidelines will be the cause of our downfall...
        • Jun 27 2013: You are so wrong, the word secular was used to describe the U.S. when it first came into being. The fact that congress shall make no laws respecting religion shows that we started as a secular country contrary to other countries that had a religioun in charge. This country was founded secular so that all religions could practice and enjoy the freedom to practice without the interference from other religions. Other countries have taken to emulating our seculrism, while at the same time we are going backwards, and towards a majority religion. The only saving grace that I can see is the fact that all the Christians out there cannot work together, so that my fear of them taking over will be a long and difficult battle for them.
  • Jun 26 2013: I would have to say oppresive society is much harder. I am not that young, and I remember a time when the U.S. wasn't so " conservative". I remember the arts being pushed instead of sports, and I have watched the takeover of my country by a society that is hell-bent on rewriting history to the point that most Americans do not remember the pledge as originally written. Sure, this society was allways there, but something changed, and they have become more militant, and more intolerant.I remember our courthouse before they attempted to put the ten commandmnets into it, and before they complained about not being able to pray in school, [they could always pray in their church] this battle is not only being fought by one religion, but by many. Religions of peace that teach hate. This societal oppresion has got to be one of the hardest things to fight, especially when they can openly attack science with absolutely no proof, nothing to back up their point.
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      Jun 29 2013: I would be inclined to agree. Oppressive societies are self propagating and employ social pressure from within the family unit spreading out words, often based on faith and tradition. I would imagine that, though daunting and fear inspiring, an oppressive government can be at least focused on as a unit, quantified, and dismantled (though sometimes this must be done many times) Polarization is a powerful phenomena that happens naturally when a common enemy is perceived. I wonder then, how you can have an oppressive government without an oppressive society to support it. Maybe the better question is which comes first? Can you grow an oppressive society with a free and open government? Would an oppressive government have the ability to incubate from within a free and open society?
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    Jun 26 2013: I remember hearing that when I was in college. We had an underground Communist youth movement @ my college. But it was more like a "Spoiled-American, semi-conscious, self-absorbed & self-righteous movement." They were of the opinion that 1) Sex, 2) Drugs (pot), & 3) Communism would save the world, in that order. That was the priority, 1, 2, 3. Problem is, once the sex was done & the drugs consumed, there wasn't much time to study the Communism in any realistic sense. They had the underground, paperback, revolutionary texts of Lenin (which they had me read), but I never found those to make any relevant, logical sense outside Red October, 1917. Bad priorities, good history, but a revolutionary 'skill-set' that didn't adapt well at all as far as elevating the consciousness of the American People.

    Besides, I was uncomfortable w/the drugs. My Dad had drunk himself to death. The sex was really awkward for me back then. So they sent me to Bible study instead. Looking back, that might have been the problem. All in all, I never really got that "Communism" is what they were selling.

    For a variety of very good reasons, I was a poor fit for the U.S. Military. But the military knew what to do with me. They used me. And they were much less compassionate or reasonable about it than the Communists were, (who had also used me, but only briefly).

    Years later, when the work of the court was done, a Federal Judge had me instructed in how to view my own experience. They have to leave me alone now. And they cannot use me or my family anymore. They have to leave us alone.

    Honor, Duty, Service, Tradition, I know what these words mean. At some level, I always have. But I was never respected for that. The Judge saw that. The Convening Officer saw that & had the courage to stand with the judge. That was how he found out the truth. The decision has already been taken from him. But they let him choose correctly anyway. They do that sometimes. Choose correctly.
  • Jun 26 2013: Well it's true that to much of either side of that turns into chaos and destruction then collapse of that society. The real fight is to keeping a balance of the two so they may support each other and keep the other from becoming corrupted or irrational.
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    Jun 24 2013: It`s easier to focuse on oppressive governments because the image of enemy gives driving force to make people together and target. But the strugglewith oppressive society is a long way, needs much more specific courage. Because it will be no quick result, also no permanent driving force.
    But if the society itself is oppressive, how to determine the same quality inside?
  • Jun 24 2013: Our revolutionary war demonstrates the difficulties with fighting an oppressive government. This results in bloodshed.

    An oppresive society causes division inside the country and one of three things happen:

    Change occures for the benefit of all
    Stagnation and debate while the country heads in a downward spiral (sound familiar?)
    One side wins and we are then in the first situation - oppressive government.

    Based these off things I have seen in history and generalized.
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      Jun 26 2013: Juan, "exploitation of man by man" was a buzz-phrase used to characterize capitalism in text books on Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union. This saying appeared as a tongue-in-cheek mocking the original buzz-phrase. The meaning is that "the opposite" of "man by man" makes no difference. If you switch places between the oppressor and the oppressed, it's still oppression.
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          Jun 26 2013: Juan, interesting account. "Underground communist movement" sounds funny to me. When I was a student, anything other than communist had to be underground. "The opposite" (yet the same) experience. There were many stereotypes and buzz-phrases about capitalism in the Soviet Union: "rotten West", "shackles of imperialism". Then, after the Soviet system collapsed, the whole hypocrisy and power abuse behind this facade of "social justice", "friendship between nations", "solidarity of proletariat" became obvious to everyone. Monuments torn down, ideologies changed. Do common people live better in post-Soviet countries? No. Reason - corruption. The new governments in Russia and Ukraine are more corrupt than ever, and this is a sequence of a culture of corruption in society. I think, in the U.S., there is an ugly reality behind the facade of freedom and democracy as well, but the roots are not as deep.

          I don't believe in political "isms". They come and go. I believe, there are values that transcend historic ages and nations. Life is a process, not a state. Show must go on. Let the wheels of history spin.
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        Jun 26 2013: How cool is that . . . Arkady! The concept of an "Underground Capitalist Movement" or something similar in a Communist society amazes me. In my life I never though of that! Ronald Reagan would be so proud. Most people don't realize that Ronald Reagan was 1) a Union man, & 2) was a former Communist. 'Er . . . 'Uh . . . I guess it's more complex than that.

        Reagan is known to have been a leader of the Screen Actors Guild (a Union). So he WAS a union guy. The part about Communism came from (what I believe) is an authoritative source; but I can't find it on the internet. That part of Reagan's history is vague at best. He's better known as a staunch anti-communist; & FBI informant. He's credited with "Winning the Cold War" here in the USA. The Republicans idolize him; and conveniently forget the facts. Reagan & Tip O'Neil; Republican Leader & Democratic Leader - were very good friends. Not like today when they all seem to want to pass on Obama. [Wait! 'pass' needs an 'i' in place of the 'a'.]

        Political Corruption is a tough thing to overcome. Especially in places where bribery has been the way of life for centuries. 3rd world, former Colonies are rife w/corruption. Communism itself was notoriously corrupt. Everything was bribes/favors & nothing seemed to be fair or just for anyone.

        Defeat corruption? It almost takes a religious movement to turn things around. Everyone has to think differently. Everyone does. Prosperity helps. If there's plenty of money, no one needs to bribe anyone. But if everyone thinks they have to cheat to get ahead, what can you do?

        "Life is a process, not a state. Show must go on. Let the wheels of history spin." I agree.
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          Jun 26 2013: Re: "Political Corruption is a tough thing to overcome. Especially in places where bribery has been the way of life for centuries. 3rd world, former Colonies are rife w/corruption. Communism itself was notoriously corrupt. Everything was bribes/favors & nothing seemed to be fair or just for anyone.

          Defeat corruption? It almost takes a religious movement to turn things around. Everyone has to think differently. Everyone does. Prosperity helps. If there's plenty of money, no one needs to bribe anyone. But if everyone thinks they have to cheat to get ahead, what can you do?"

          This is exactly my point. There was another buzz-slogan in the Soviet Union: "Everything is for the good of the people!" In late 80-s, one comic added "You need to specify which people."

          Re: "It almost takes a religious movement to turn things around. Everyone has to think differently." Well, yes, it seems to take some brainwashing. I guess, this was the original idea behind both Christianity and Communism. The problem is that mind-control is power and power corrupts. Everyone thinks, corruption is the problem with someone else. I think, it starts in ourselves.

          We can't view others as cheaters and expect them to trust us. We can't expect others not to cheat while thinking that we can or have to. We can't expect officials to stop taking bribes while believing that "wheels won't spin without grease".
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    Jun 24 2013: The recent history shows that overturning oppressive governments, in many cases, made the oppression worse. This is because slavery and oppression is a state mind, not an external condition. I'd say the Star Wars series offers a good insight on this.
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        Jun 24 2013: Hi Lamar, Your statements here are both eloquent and on point! Thumbs Up! I agree!
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        Jun 25 2013: LaMar, violence is an action. Putting shackles on one's legs is an action. "Oppressed", "enslaved", "insulted" is how we feel about actions of others towards us.

        You can say the exact same thing to two people. One person will be "insulted", the other one will consider it funny. Insult is not what you say. Insult is how the other person feels about your words.

        You live in a cabin, grow your own food, and consider yourself free. You do it voluntarily. If you force another person to live in the same conditions as you do, the person will be "oppressed". Two people living in the same physical conditions: one is "free", the other one is "oppressed" - how come?

        Re: "Do you have an example where fighting against an oppressive government has made the situation worse?" Egypt. Under Mubarak, Coptic Christians did not have to flee the country to escape violence.

        You did not give a thought to the Star Wars analogy. Anakin Skywalker was taken out of slavery, but has never taken out the feeling of being oppressed out of himself.

        We feel oppressed when we are forced to conform to external conditions and opinions. When we voluntarily accept the same conditions and opinions, we feel free. This is why some people see taxation as oppression, while others believe, it is based on "voluntary compliance".

        You can't force other people to "comply voluntarily" (be free) without oppressing them.
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        Jun 25 2013: Re Hitler example. Nobody can say how I feel and what I like except myself. This kind of lie is easy to detect. Convincing others that they will like being oppressed by us is immoral.

        Fundamentally, people feel unhappy when "what is" does not match their idea of "what ought": we get upset when other people don't behave the way we expect or think they "should behave", when our salary is not what we think it should be, etc.

        When "what is" and "what ought" are in accord, people feel happy. One way to feel free and happy is to forget "what ought" and focus on "what is" - accept reality.

        As we do this, it has an interesting effect. We accept other people as they are. We stop trying to change them and force our rules on them. As we fight the feeling of being oppressed within ourselves, we reduce the chance that we will become oppressors.

        Feeling oppressed and being an oppressor are two sides of the same coin.

        This does not mean, however, that we should accept anything. You have a point too. We cannot just stand by watching an act of violence. It makes us an accomplice. As usually, there is no rule of thumb. The best adviser is our own consciousness.
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        Jun 25 2013: Great article, LaMar. Thanks a lot.

        The main point of the article seems to be: "They [people who hurt others] change their way of thinking so they do not have to think about how they are hurting others.
        ...See if you can identify the ones you use most often.
        1. Justifying
        In avoiding responsibility for their behavior a person finds a reason for what they have done.
        “He yelled at me so I had to hit him.”
        “They all did it so why can’t I?”
        -- From the article

        "I have been responding to the little snide side remarks made by those same 3 people. Did you expect I would let them take shots without returning fire lol!"
        -- From elsewhere

        The road up and the road down is one and the same road. We are talking about the same thing. I am talking about the other side of the same coin: "We can change our way of thinking so we do not have to think about how OTHER people are hurting US." This way we do not make excuses, do not place blame, do not feel angry, do not lie to confuse others and our vision is clear to see how we hurt others instead of seeing how they are hurting us. We accept responsibility for our actions.

        Re: "The definition of slavery and oppression is a lack of freedom."

        Freedom in general has no meaning. You have to specify, freedom from what. Being free from threat (security) sometimes mean giving up freedom from being watched (privacy). When we live alone in the wilderness, we are free from the rules of society, but not free from natural dangers. We can be free from predators and hunger, but have to submit ourselves to the rules of society.
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          Jun 25 2013: You make some important points here, Arkady. I think people can learn to be more aware of how they hurt others instead of seeing only how others hurt them. This is a subject we deal with in programs about bullying. The bully often minimizes his responsibility in his own mind.

          On the victim end, though, there are degrees of hurt that cannot be erased through a change of attitude. The pain may be mitigated somewhat.
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        Jun 25 2013: LaMar, re: "Some actions are justified when equal in force. If you punch me and I punch you back I am justified in that action."

        Neurologist Daniel Wolpert says, he has experimental data showing that people tend to perceive force used against them by others to be greater than the equal force that they use against others themselves. ( This is how violence escalates. When a circle of violence or mutual insults is started, it does not matter who started it. It just needs to stop. "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." -- Mahatma Gandhi, (attributed)

        The concentration camp example seems to confirm my point of how people become oppressors after being oppressed. It's the flawed thinking mentioned in the article you quote that one can gain freedom by oppressing others.

        Fritzie makes a good point. Children often turn to bullying others to prove their "self-worth". And they have this need because they have been abused themselves. I've heard, adult abusers often have been abused as children. I don't have data to support this statement, but I would be interested to know if anyone has references.

        On the victim end - yes, sometimes, people never get over the pain of past abuses. People differ greatly in their ability to control their emotions. I call it "spiritual strength".

        Here is an interesting and controversial talk on the subject:
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        Jun 26 2013: Fritzie, sorry for misquoting you. I went on to make my own point instead of reading carefully what you said. Thank you for the references.

        Regarding the first article, from some personal observations and experiences, inflated self-esteem appears to be the other side of an inferiority complex.

        A person who does not feel good about him or herself often feels vulnerable and sensitive about what other people's opinions, words, or, even, facial expressions or tone. This results in a "how dare you..." reaction which appears as a sign of high self-esteem, but may, in fact, result from internal feeling of insecurity and vulnerability. Such people may feel that they deserve a better treatment, higher salary, etc. which, again, can look like a sign of a high self-esteem. And this damaged image of "self" can result from suffering abuse, poverty, or unfair treatment in the past. I just speak from personal experience and experience with some people close to me.

        I think, this pattern also works on higher levels - ethnicity, religion, race, nation. How we think of ourselves seems to be extremely important for how we treat ourselves and others. Identity crisis is another example of a similar kind of issue.
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          Jun 26 2013: That's okay, Arkady. I know thoughts cascade from one to another.

          I too have see cases in which bullying definitely did not arise from high self esteem. And I agree that how we think of ourselves affects how we treat ourselves and others.
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        Jun 27 2013: Re: "Abuse can be another form of oppression and slavery and here I would make the point that if an abused person accepted your advice they would just accept that abuse and be happy."

        We are abused to the degree we tolerate.

        When I was in the Soviet Army, there was a new draft every 6 months. Where I served, there were soldiers from 3 different drafts. Unofficially, the youngest draft was forced to do all chores - wash floors and toilets, and do laundry for the senior drafts. If they refused, they would be beaten by the second draft. The oldest draft did nothing at all. They were driving the second draft to abuse the youngest draft to do the labor. If a soldier from a second draft refused to oppress a younger soldier and would do his own work, the oldest draft would pressure his peers to lower that soldier to the status of the younger draft - abuse or be abused. They would also pit the youngest draft against the soldier - just to test how much abuse he would tolerate. People who reported abuse to the officers, would be ostracized. They were despised and abused by everyone to the point they had to be transferred to work in the pigsty. There is no escape. There are two ways to survive: accept abuse as a young soldier and abuse others after 6 months; or fight back from the very start. The second way could be tough and risky. In some places, one could be beaten to suffer serious injuries. As a young soldier, you don't know what to expect. If you fight back as a young soldier, after initial "tests", you might be accepted as equal by senior soldiers. And, most likely, will be expected to abuse the young anyway - that was not the end of the fight. Pretty much, the culture of alpha-males in a baboon tribe. If you wanted to fight against the whole system, you had to fight alone against everyone, including your own peers.

        Much of the same is going on in society at large.
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        Jun 27 2013: Re: "Trying to analyze other people to find a weakness would also be considered a sign of low self esteem would it not?"

        This is an insightful comment. There is truth in it somewhere deep inside. It would be a sign of weakness in a certain sense, yes.
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        Jun 27 2013: Lamar, I'm OK. When I went through these experiences, my character was, pretty much, shaped. Yes, what does not kill us makes us stronger. But I would admit that there are better ways to become stronger. You know how sympathy and "words of wisdom" don't work in these situations. My experience is not that bad. "Abuse or be abused" is not the worst. Many people go through "kill or be killed" situations. Or even worse, they grow up in these environments. Then this philosophy of "fight or flight" is really hard to take out.

        You are right about projecting. We should not project our experiences onto others and generalize. Taking a person out of slavery is easier than taking slavery out of a person.

        When people recognize their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities in other people, some people use these weaknesses to provoke other people - deliberately push the hot buttons, mostly to pit people against each other. This is what media does daily, this is what the senior draft did to pit the second draft against the rookies. Knowing our own weaknesses helps us prevent others from pushing these buttons (like in your example with the laundromat - ignore those fingers and disrespect) and also avoid pushing these buttons in others, be more sensitive to each other's issues.
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        Jun 27 2013: There is no answer to these questions. I just point out that oppression creates oppression. Anakin turned into Darth Vader through anger and feeling of injustice towards himself. This feeling of being oppressed made him vulnerable to corruption by power. As he gained power, he felt that "his time has come" and he was justified in his actions.

        Soldiers tolerate abuse from senior peers because they make a trade-off between suffering a moderate abuse in order to gain power in the future and suffering a much larger abuse with no prospects. Yes, abuse is real. But there are two types of struggles - external struggle to stand up to the oppressor and the internal struggle with our own consciousness and resistance to corruption which comes with opportunity to oppress others - take bribes or force others to do serve us. Guess, which struggle is tougher. Given that winning the internal struggle, sometimes, means to suffer greater abuse and peer pressure while giving up privileges

        It's explained fairly well in the New Testament. Raising dead and calming storms are symbols. When people talk about these things literally, they make no sense. It's about spiritual death and spiritual storms. The answers are also there - forgiveness, loving the enemies, turning the other cheek. Most people can't do that. Advising this is hypocrisy.
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        Jun 27 2013: You and Lamar are quite right. We cannot say to an abused person to just change his mind. We cannot say to a person who is hurt "just forgive", "don't dwell on these things too much". One cannot say to the new recruit "just accept abuse and forgive your abusers". When we tell these things to others, it's hypocrisy. What I write here is hypocrisy. This is why therapies and preaching do not work. The abused person must internalize these things for himself. "You must forgive" is hypocrisy and does not work. "I must forgive" does work - only works from inside. Like the storm calming.

        Refusing to return violence and become an oppressor is tough. Sometimes, it means to subject ourselves to a greater violence, suffering, or death. But it does work when the advise comes from a person who "picks up the cross". Examples: Gandhi, MLK. Without the cross it's empty words and hypocrisy. Again, it's all in the New Testament.
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        Jun 27 2013: I agree. I think, we see each other's points. When I say that we cannot tell each other what to forgive and what to "dwell on", I mean not only that it usually feels insensitive and hypocritical, but it's useless either. People cannot be expected to follow this advice and forgive because most of us do not control our emotions. "Control our own emotions" (anger, lust, etc.) is another piece of hypocritical and useless advice :-). Religions preach it for thousands of years now with very little result. These teachings have a tendency to turn over onto their heads and become tools to control and oppress others.
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        Jun 28 2013: OK. We are slowly converging. I agree that "I must forgive" is setting an expectation for ourselves and failing to meet expectations (our own or external), usually, carries a sense of guilt and shame. Perhaps, you are right. We should not require such things from ourselves. "You may forgive" or "I can forgive", "God willing" - for religious people, as an option and possibility, do sound better. You are right. Suggestions work a lot better than telling people what they must do.
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        Jun 28 2013: How about "you need to forgive" [in order to heal]?
        "Must" refers to obligation.
        "May" refers to permission or possibility.
        "Can" refers to ability.
        "Need" refers to necessity.

        Or is it not necessary to forgive to stop mutual violence and oppression?
        Still, "you need to" (telling people what they need) does not sound appropriate.

        I think, our conversation indicates how confused we are with what we "need", "must", "can", or "may" - especially in emotional and spiritual area. We don't seem to have much control or understanding. I feel that there is no correct answer here. Some internal dialog or self reflection "may" help or "needs to happen" (here we go again).
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        Jun 28 2013: abc XYZ, language is often an obstacle for communication. If I speak of myself, I sound self-centered. If I speak of "us", I'm making unjustified projections and generalizations. Spiritualism was in the picture all along. By spiritualism, I don't mean anything supernatural. It simply refers to emotional area of our life, in my mind. But these explanations only add to confusion. I hope, we will not start discussion what spiritualism means.

        If you think, you are enlightened and not confused - good for you. I'm still not aware of my own enlightenment. :-)

        I think, Lamar nailed the question, as usual. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - that's it. I don't think, there is anything to add, take away, or explain here. It seems to me, we are debating what all three of us understand. (Is it fair to use "us" here?)
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    Jun 24 2013: Awesome question. Clearly, the battle against an oppressive society is harder - because it's a battle against ourselves.

    “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.”

    ― Hermann Hesse
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      Jun 24 2013: My personal theory is that Oppressive Governments only exist in societies that accept oppression as a matter of course. In other words, an aspiring Dictator would have a tough time getting into the Presidency. People have differing opinions about Richard Nixon. In my lifetime, probably he is as close to a dictator as we have ever had. He exceeded nearly every legal limitation on Presidential power. Yet in the end, he was deposed. He was forced to resign to avoid impeachment.

      Nixon had to resign. First because there was enough physical & other evidence available to guarantee his impeachment. Second because there was enough physical & other evidence available to guarantee his conviction in a subsequent trial before the Senate. Finally, there probably was enough evidence to to convict & imprison him after removing him from office. I can only speculate as to what that evidence might refer to. I've heard felony crimes to include murder & money laundering. I've heard outright bribery. I've heard every other rumor floated about Watergate.

      After everyone now living -- or alive during Nixon's presidency has died; the truth will be revealed and the historians will have a field day. Too bad I won't be around to enjoy that!
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        Jun 24 2013: Oppression and corruption go hand in hand. I think, corruption in the government is merely a symptom of corruption in society. People who give bribes to government officials or yield to coercion to give bribes, spread corruption as much as the officials who take bribes. Very soon, corruption becomes modus operandi in society. But overturning the government does not change this mentality.

        "Capitalism is exploitation of man by man, and Communism is the opposite."
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          Jun 24 2013: Power to the People! Long live the Revolution!

          (& I'm sure that I'll have much more to say on this subject later on.)
  • Jun 23 2013: Here in Brazil We are now going through this kind of Situation an I think that against the government is harder because the polititions generally are people from other generations that are tied to their "old point of view" and most of the time, don't want to change some things and thoughts. Nowadays, When people from a society wish something different, they have ways to talk and share feelings and wishes with lots of people mostly through the ways of internet. But the polititions think they have the fource beside them, and most of the time they try to infource their decisions upon the society.
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      Jun 24 2013: Since you speak about the older generations as "them", I take it, you belong to younger generation. As I grew up from generation of youth to the generation of parents, I have noticed interesting things. My children are, in many ways, exactly like me - habits, character traits, even the way they look. And they often view ME as their oppressor - I'm limiting their freedom, dictating my choices, etc.

      Sometimes, I see the iconic picture of Che Guevara on T-shirts. Apparently, the picture symbolizes a fight for a change and stands for many ideals embraced by today's youth. He died relatively young (39). Consider that he was an ally of Fidel Castro. Look at Cuba and Fidel now.

      Revolution in Russia in 1917 had the same aspirations of ending the century-old oppressive regime. I don't know if you had a chance of seeing Soviet leaders on TV in 1980's.

      Who are these "old people" resisting to change? It's hard to believe, but they ARE the people who were young and rebellious 60 years ago.

      This begs a question: why is oppression still there? Who is oppressing whom?
  • Jun 23 2013: Well... in my view, battle against opressive society is difficult. A nation is known by its culture and society. We find millions of people in our society with millions of ways of thinking. To fight for our rights, we must not only fight against thousands, we have to deal with other millions out there. Fight against Oppresive government is tough as well, but government is bounded to society. Laws and regulations are formulated as per societie's wish, so if we change the thinking of our society, naturally it will bring down the oppressive government. In the end i would like to conclude that changing society is difficult, but once you succeed you can dominate the government with majority.
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    Jun 23 2013: I guess I'd have to go with an oppressive government. Governments have all the military hardware necessary to enforce their oppressiveness. What would be examples of oppressive society vs. oppressive government?
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      Jun 23 2013: Dear John,
      An oppressive society is one where a woman will not be allowed to medical termination of pregnancy despite life risk and would ultimately die. An oppressive society is also one where both medical doctors and members of public will perform medical determination of sex of the fetus so that a girl child can be aborted. An oppressive society is one where girl children will be bombed for going to school.
      I am sure you certainly know what is an oppressive government.
      It is easier to get rid of an oppressive government. What you need is a political movement/revolution. But the change is emphatic, clear and decisive. To get rid of an oppressive society one will need a social revolution and this requires a much loner period of time and it is harder to come by.
      Or one may wish to leave the native society and expatriate to somewhere else - in a lesser oppressive society. But this is no solution really.
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        Jun 23 2013: I believe the French Revolution in the 1700's was a Social revolution. Many such revolutions occurred in Europe around that time. Some not so violent.

        From Wikipedia: "The French Revolution (French: Révolution française; 1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France that had a lasting impact on French history and more broadly throughout Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed within three years. French society underwent an epic transformation, as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from radical left-wing political groups, masses on the streets, and peasants in the countryside.[1] Old ideas about tradition and hierarchy regarding monarchs, aristocrats, and the Catholic Church were abruptly overthrown by new principles of Liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality and fraternity)..."

        So, in order of magnitude, it appears that aspirations towards social reform are more prominent in history and enduring throughout our historical context, that is, they occur in the present time.

        This is, of course, without verification.
  • Jun 23 2013: I cannot answer the question.

    But there is a man in Hong Kong today that blew the whistle and may give his life as a result.
    Patriots are most likely to be called traitors by their government first, and then by the citizens.

    Governments are about controlling their citizens within geographical borders. Whatever you call
    your type and style of government, they haven't changed their practices in 5,000 years, or more.

    We all are owned by our governments.
    We like to think we have control of whom we send to lead us.
    We don't.

    On a local level, government uses Law Enforcement to maintain control. It works well.

    On a State level government uses larger enforcement with ex-military forming their National Guards.
    And, Local Law Enforcement works so well, that the National Guards are seldom necessary.

    When we look to our Nation's Government, we find a difference in Law Enforcement.
    Suddenly, Law Enforcement knows their place. And they do as they are told.
    A whole new system of justice is created by politicians. A rather brutal one.

    The bulk of Taxed-Payer dollars get spent on the current administration's secret needs first,
    next, returns on investments of political controlling interests, and last, the military industrial complex.
    The Gold that backs dollars is long gone. Last audited in 1957. The really funny thing that happened
    when President Chavez wanted his nation's gold sent back from Fort Knox and the FED, some
    other nations decided to get theirs also. Washington went bonkers. Like a Mad Hatter,
    "What to do?" "What to do?" But they sent it back, after a bit.

    The US government has a Foreign Policy that is brutal indeed, it dictates that the US government
    will make preemptive War upon other nations shores, whenever it feels like it.
    Support from US citizens is not necessary when a lie will convince them to not oppose government.
    No one ever says that the governments tell only the truth.

    I tire of bitching
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      Jun 23 2013: So, just what are these "secrete needs" of the current administration you speak of?
      • Jun 23 2013: John, I am meandering a bit tonight... Try this.
        Research the backgrounds of the last 7 or 8 administrations at 2 year intervals.
        Dig for the dirt. It is easy enough to find. Print media was a bit looser 15 years ago.
        But since the turn of the century things have tightened up. They do hand-outs now.
        But the politics game is the same. Just because Nixon got caught, doesn't mean
        things got better. Just better hidden.

        John, I used this last night in response on a different conversation.
        It's somewhat applicable here. But, you have to stretch, sorry.
        First, Imagine the NYFed taking control of their Regulator, the US Treasury.
        During the Bush, Obama, McClain run up to election...

        Plutarch, in writing, "On Morals," two thousand years ago, described market
        bubbles in the near-ancient world and how the lending industry came to
        periodically bankrupt (bank corrupt)* nearly everyone in order to create
        exorbitant wealth for themselves, simply as result of their own avarice and
        greed. He was writing on why no one should allow themselves to get into debt
        through borrowing, but to live threadbare if need be, and to sell what your
        have and live roughly, rather than see a money lender. People have always
        sought to live beyond their means. And sooner or later, many are found that
        they do not have sufficient funds to pay the piper.
        Actual Headline last year---
        As Worries Ebb, Small Investors Propel Markets
        Millions of people all but abandoned the market after the 2008 financial
        crisis, but now individual investors are pouring more money than they have
        in years into stock mutual funds. The flood, prompted by fading economic
        threats and better news on housing and jobs.....
        What we tend to forget --
        The people who abandoned the market were broke !!!
        *periodically bankrupt (bank corrupt)....

        The new Small Investors are different people...
        We call them Fodder. (aka: new cannon fodder)
        Wall Street Mafioso's will reap them too.
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          Jun 23 2013: I agree. it is all about the "current" administration and there is little difference between them as they assume their moment of control. So, with the current Administration it is all about stretching the limits of Liberalism while the last one was more concerned with lining their pockets with tax payer monies, that is, they were more into the Me than the Us.

          Working the problem either way does little to reduce the size of the "what about us?", crowd, that always gets left behind.

          As to the topic. I'm reading some really good arguments for the "Society is more Oppressive" idea, in this discussion.
  • Jun 22 2013: I think the TED community agrees that a society is much more difficult. The government is a stationary entity with one or multiple locations that we can easily pin point should we ever have the desire to battle an oppressive government. We aren't constantly watched or spied on, and thus we can easily slink into the shadows of a militia if we collaborated into one strong enough to overthrow a 1st world nation.

    An oppressive society is a 360 degree radius that seems to almost be employed by tools of the government to police the nation without government intervention. If you train a people to act a certain way, and hold them accountable for their actions long enough and slowly influence a change toward a certain direction - you can almost hypnotize society into becoming agents of government control.

    Which case, it would be really difficult to determine an enemy and therefore risk of being eliminated is high.
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      Jun 23 2013: I'm part of the TED society and I disagree with your statement. Perhaps some do agree but I think not all or most.
  • Jun 22 2013: I believe you can only fight against an oppressive government only when and if your society is no longer oppressive... they are interrelated! So surely your first battle would have to be against the oppressive society
  • Jun 22 2013: The 18th century wit Samuel Johnson once wrote, "How small, of all that human hearts endure, that part that laws or kings can cause or cure." Governments may be oppressive and tyrannical, but they don't have the breadth and depth that social pressure, particularly religious pressure, exerts on all of us. Pick your friends and your society wisely, for they will control you in subtle ways!
  • Jun 17 2013: The oppresive society is much more difficult to face for the government is only a small portion of people acting upon the will of the rest. It is that will that is the barrier for it is that will that decides what is suppressed and what is celebrated. And while many can look at the secret workings of government officials and programs as a counter arguement, it is more evident that the power of the people to create change and custom drives the world. When the people fought for african-american rights in the states, they beat the government. When women fought for rights around the world, they beat the government. When the Red world, seemed a distance and hated ideal, the people overthrew it. It is in the people that life is free for no person gives up freedom for law. That is why our most basic rights are freedoms: freedom of speech, religion, opinion, government, language, education, food and shelter. So only a society that bans freedoms can remain oppressive; a government will always be defeated.
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    Jun 17 2013: Oppressive society is tougher to fight with as here oppression remain deep rooted in every aspect of society that in turn can also give more strength to the oppressive government. On the other hand to if it is oppressive government it depends on only few power centers and may not have any support from society not being oppressive itself , so it's easier to over throw such oppressive government.