“The origin of states gets lost in a myth that one may believe but may not discuss.” Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850

This project resulted from extensive research into exploitation, oppression, and resistance against these practices throughout the history of the United States of America. Upon review, it becomes clear that exploitation, oppression and resistance is the history of the United States. Of course, this is not the traditional historical narrative manufactured and delivered through the most prominent variety of mediums including educational systems or popular cultural outlets.

According to political scientist Harold Chorney, the elite of a society fragment class consciousness using three tactics: 1) Amnesia 2) Repression and 3) Integration.[1] Chorney defines “social amnesia” as “the forcible repression of the collective memory.” The collective memory—the history—of the marginalized populations of a society faces continuous repression and often times, outright erasure from the dominant historical narrative.

Another political scientist, Eric Selbin, describes how resistance movements often tap into a rich history of struggle and use it as a vital resource which has considerable impact on whether or not social movement will succeed. “Most resistance movements conceive of and understand their struggles as continuing some long process of struggle that many societies hold in their collective memory.”[2] Successful movements will possess the ability of crafting a continuous narrative of resistance and will orient themselves within that narrative. This tradition functions to inform their strategies and tactics as well as inspire their members and create solidarity among their ranks.

The elite of society are continuously working to silence any such tradition of resistance. When unable to erase histories altogether, influential and inspirational narratives are deradicalized as much as possible. Wrongful omission of radical actors and their significance remains a favored tactic. Evidence and sources of violent repression by the state or other dominant figures and hegemonic institutions are glossed over or dutifully forgotten. The effectiveness of all possible forms of agency and resistance remain ignored and only easily managed or state-sponsored forms of making change are celebrated. Passive resistance is celebrated most of all.

“Exactly because the past is forgotten, it rules unchallenged; to be transcended it must first be remembered.”[3] In order to successfully change society, the true history of exploitation, repression, and resistance must be remembered.

“Myth is America” is a media project to exhume, that is, to remember, the subjugated stories of U.S. history so that we may, in some small part, contribute to a more complete telling of the perpetual history of oppression and exploitation of, by, and within the United States.

 

[1]Harold Chorney, “Amnesia, Integration and Repression: The Roots of Canadian Urban Political Culture,” in Urbanization and Urban Planning in Capitalist Society (Methuen, Inc., 1981), 555.

[2] Eric Selbin, “Revolution in the Real World: Bringing Agency Back In,” in Theorizing Revolutions (New York, NY: Routledge, 1997), 131.

[3] Russel Jacoby, Social Amnesia: A Critique of Contemporary Psychology from Alder to Laing (Beacon Press, 1975), 5.

 

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