Conscientização

I have no interest in debates with people who constantly invoke Marx, Lenin, Friedman or Hayek as absolute truths without reflection. While it is useful to read and understand intellectual powerhouses of our past, to blindly follow their musings without context is akin to those who interpret the ‘holy books’ literally. As much as I too am guilty of thinking in terms of binaries of UPA and NDA or a Kejriwal and Modi or socialism and capitalism, I try not to do that. My interest is in what the Brazilian educationist Paulo Freire called ‘conscientização’, which is trying to understand the world and its workings by identifying social, economic and political contradictions. It also involves taking action against the oppressive elements of one’s life.

Though Freire developed this concept as a way to educate the masses of illiterates out of their oppression, the critical pedagogy that he envisaged is useful in breaking patterns of hegemony in our economic, political and social structures. Hegemony that has crippled our ‘right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. Wiki calls Freire’s theory steeped in post-Marxist critical theory.

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