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Theories on the Psychological and Emotional Dynamic Between the Oppressor and the Oppressed

“How did we ever let this happen?” resides as one of the common responses to any catastrophe of politics and history’s human side. Whenever we read of genocides and bloody conflicts in history books or watch in annual Oscar-bait historical biopics such desperate questions flood our conscience to rationalise such turmoil events, that is if we even want the answer. How have countries such as England been watered to grow to a powerful grasp using the blood of other nations they invaded and exploited? How were entire religious groups and ethnicities on the brink of a total eradication from human kind in extermination camps that went undiscovered? How is America’s 9/11 the Middle East’s 24/7? The word ‘why’ as a substitute to these same queries on absent humanity provides some more immediate and understood answers. Relentlessly and disappointedy racism, ignorance and greed are some of the most direct conclusions. After identifying (or admitting to) these ‘why’s’, one can begin to construe the ‘how’s’ when processing how these societal ills infiltrate perception and reception, both in a collective and individual manner.  These ‘how’s’ embed themselves into various vessels seen in everyday lives, from loaded, strategic dialect to handled, uncovered emotional reactions, all feeding on intellectual insufficiency and subjective feelings of unturned desires. 


It takes a powerful, privileged and presumptuous source for such virtues to infiltrate minds and implement power imbalances or ethical injustices. This group, characterised by aformentioned grievance, extreme methods, moral bankruptcy and barbaric derangement, is known as the oppressor. This bracket have been unjustly granted the upper hand against another group, known as the oppressed, who suffer under the oppressor’s utilisation of brutish force-colonised exploitation, large-scale exterminations and their homes demolished by artillery-as aided by emotional/psychological force-the answers to how such atrocious historical acts have taken place. 


Engineered Use of Narratives, Language and Terminology 

Words are power. Despite seemingly being paper imprints transcribed to verbal expression, instead of harbouring any immediate physical action, it is language and its employment that play a part in planting the seeds that grow into material oppression and its protection, despite its moral violations. The narratives around political/humanitarian situations are relentlessly manoeuvred by the oppressor to orchestrate their ignorant ideals and hellish antics. They are abducted as both a catalyst and a long-term instrument of the oppressed’s pain by their abuser who seeks to erase all accountability or combat in their oppression.  


First and foremost, the oppressor employs language and the narratives it occupies as a method of dehumanising the oppressed by reducing their worth, dignity, and humanity. The deeply embedded roots of such theft of humanity can be unearthed to expose vile derogatory language, objectification, or treating them as inferior beings.  Apartheid states such as Zionist Israel mercilessly and disgustingly employ such vicious language when describing those they illegally occupy and oppress, Palestinians in their land,  as a means of omitting their humanity and maintaining their illegal occupation through garnering support. In October 2023, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defence minister, justified the expansion of Israel’s siege over Palestine, meaning as Gallant described as “no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed”, by misinforming listeners the Palestinians they “are fighting” are nothing but “human animals''. Such a strategic citation demonstrates the government’s cold, heartless and murderous nature, as well as its incredibly racist and anti-Palestinian mindset which defines its character, highlighting how an oppressor engineers language and steers dangerous imagery as a tool of their persecution. However, a large and unfortunate reception of such derogatory language adopts this discrimination and hatred, as reflective of language's power, despite that very language communicating bitterness and poisonous bigotry. Listeners hear such words, supported by cherry-picked images and stories of Palestine's rage and pain from being oppressed- a further feature that will be discussed- and become blind to the oppressed's true nature and reality, instead making the grave mistake of siding with the violent oppressor. Thus the oppression continues and even expands with this newfound support. Those who have fallen victim to the lies and racism infiltrating the oppressor's vocabulary cannot begin to see that this language has been manipulated and moulded to align with the oppressor's criminal acts; painting the ones they're hurting and murdering as deserving of it by denying them as humans. It is this dehumanising of the oppressed that allows the oppressor to carry out their extreme maltreatment because it allegedly justifies their abusive actions and perpetuates a power dynamic relating to who is considered human and who isn't that reinforces the oppression.


A further example of the oppressor employing manipulated chronicles comes in the form of persistent false narratives and misusing crucial terminology to wither support for the oppressed and instead divert it to them. Remaining with the example of Zionism, a prominent and never-ending example of lies and manipulation to maintain oppression, narratives are tampered with to re-write history to keep its horrendous acts and those in the present hidden from the world. Israel's counterfeit story denies Palestine's existence as a country before the 1940s to justify its illegal occupation of the land and subsequent abuse of its people, ignoring and attempting to eliminate any historical evidence, such as that present in older maps and literature, that reveals the truth.  This story is further supported by Israel's favourite tactic; false accusations of antisemitism tossed to any voice that cries for Palestine's liberation (or even consideration), aided by Zionism's (also strategic) hijacking and abuse of Judaism, even going so far as to imply any support for Palestine leads to another Holocaust through such language (again a strategy move). This example highlights an engineered use of narrative that selects the language used based on the historical and cultural weight it holds in its meaning, one that I believe is entirely intentional and strategically devised. The Israeli government can carry out its colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine and its people respectfully because it knows exactly what it is doing when it employs a misuse of the word ‘antisemitism; to counteract criticism of its abuse and support for Palestine. A striking example of such behaviour is evident in British MP Jeremy Corbyn during his 2019 Prime Minister campaign which included a call for Palestine's liberation. Corbyn was misnamed as an antisemite by an Israeli Minister to disarm his views of liberation, this then latched onto the British media and their smearing against him, in turn poising the British public who pride themselves on Britain's win against the Nazis in their genocide against the Jewish community and so were fear mongered into voting for anyone but Corbyn. This led to Corbyn's loss and subsequent elimination of the opportunity for the British government to recognise and aid Palestine against Israel's illegal occupation.  All part of the oppressor’s plan. 


Selective Focus and Exploitation of Emotional Responses 

Likewise to narratives, emotional reactions are also abducted as tools for the oppressor’s abuse. The world will turn away from an oppressed group’s pain, heartbreak, even their resilience, as these emotive concepts cannot be engineered by the oppressor and their enablers to appear as detrimental to the oppressed’s cause. The oppressed group’s anger, however, receives plenty of spotlight from the oppressor and their enabling allies. An oppressed group’s anger, especially coming from ethnic or religious minority communities, can be distorted to appear as brutality, savagery and monstrosity in an extremist form. The oppressor and their allies will selectively and conveniently forget that the oppressed group’s anger comes from heartbreak, trauma and disappointment from the violating injustice they are submitted to and instead place the anger into an incubated vacuum where context is eliminated. 


As an emotional reaction, anger is effortlessly native to threat, violence and just something to be feared; especially when that anger is coming from a non-white face. The oppressor and their allies focus solely on any anger the oppressed broadcast as a tenet of their manipulative propaganda, utilising these associations of threat to further angle the oppressor as the enemy, stripping them further of their humanity and placing them further away from their stance as a victim. This emphasises a startling violation of humanity and psychological/emotional conduct. It isn’t enough for the oppressor to maltreat the oppressed group, they now have to expand their maltreatment through the very and appropriate emotional response the oppressed convey because of that persecution by exploiting that anger to appear as a threat to appease their cause of inequity, essentially weaponsing it. This administration could not carry out when focusing on the oppressed group’s sorrow or statements of perseverance. These traits have no room for distortion to suit the oppressor’s deception, one that conceals its true intentions of assault or even genocide, as they traditionally precipitate sympathy or support out of human nature. 


Anger, again especially coming from an ethnic or religious group experiencing negative stereotyping, is forbidden by those who provide the negative stereotypes as a justified response to their violation of human rights. Anger seldomly receives the same understanding it needs in these global, or even intimate social, contexts as those who should be providing understanding are instead opposing as enabled by the discriminatory propaganda that is twisting the anger to appear as something else. Turning a blind eye to the root causes of the anger, the oppressor and their enablers recruit this anger to create distortions that strike fear into the uneducated Western heart, one that fear mongers using the labels of terrorists and extremists, citations that are never given to white faces displaying anger. 



A Search for Alleged Confirmation of Bigoted Beliefs and Injustice Which Sees no Limits 

The oppressor and their allies, primarily the latter, are subconsciously and invariably happy to unearth any and every potential counterargument to the oppressed being supported, even if that ‘any potential’ presupposes their own community being harmed in any regard. This postulated phenomenon is evident in cases ranging from the oppressor and their allies’s values being compromised in a strive for justice (which is not a tenant of their mentioned values) to more extreme examples such as Middle Eastern resistance counterattacks resulting in damage. The oppressor and their allies, furtively and covertly, are more than happy to have this happen (even if its the latter scenario) as they now have armament to enforce their ideological bigotry and, in their eyes, justify their manual injustice. If the destruction of a place means the oppressor and their allies can further attack the oppressed then they will have no issue with more destruction following suit. This emanates from the unsettling fact that hatred of another community can surmount love for one’s own or any other. 


If a situation which breeds this phenomenon doesn’t arise naturally, the oppressor and their allies search it out with a ferverent yet concealed desperation; once again that hatred for another community or activist cause takes control like a demon possessing a victim. It clouds rationality or essentially decimates it as prejudice and rationality disharmonise in nature. This hatred petitions for any feasible vindication in utter delusion and detrimental misapprehension. As one can guess, delusion and misapprehension breed alongside intentional fabrications and deceit, all for the cause of pulverising the oppressed’s quest to be seen as human and advocating for the oppressor’s quest to situate the oppressed as non-human (stemming from their own inability to see the oppressed as human). 


Overall these theories demonstrate how the oppressor utilises gaslighting techniques to undermine the oppressed's perception of reality, thus allowing them to maintain their brutish oppressive force. By a deranged and dangerous combination of tactfully distorting facts, relentlessly denying their experiences (and working hard to make everyone else does the same no matter the lengths needed to do so), and questioning their sanity (even when they know there is no need to and are instead aware they are attempting to persevere against their oppression), the oppressor disempowers the oppressed and maintains control over their lives. Such violations of social and psychological conduct embed themselves into surrounding political and social contracts, such as which countries receive aid or attacks and how communities react to news reports of massacres or conflicts. A recognition and unravelling of these very concepts are what's needed to generate reform and union. 


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Ros is a 23-year-old uni graduate and writer/journalist. Their experience in online journalism consists of primarily film; its history, cultural and emotional significance, the horror genre and independent filmmaking. They have since branched out into socio-political critiques centring on feminist issues, human rights (Palestine, Congo etc...) and queer rights as inspired by great activist figures such as Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Davis, Malcolm X and many more. They hope to become a credited activist and socio-political theorist myself-as well as a film critic-and aim to utilise my voice to advocate reform and progress for all as they believe words, ideas and writing can change the world. 

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