The Problem With Mindfulness – It Delays The Revolution Comrades!

2
770

Around here we view mindfulness with the same attention and approval that we do Hare Krishna – not a lot but chacun a son gout. If it is necessary for you to pay £1500 to some git to tell you to slow down occasionally and think then so be it. The rest of us adults will just carry on with healthy and balanced lives all the same.

There are other critiques of the movement available of course:

The mindfulness conspiracy It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism. By Ronald Purser

We can see how the rest of this will go, can’t we? It’s a form of uber- (no, not Uber) Leninism. We should not work for, nor even allow, anything that will alleviate the suffering of the proletariat for that would delay the Revolution. Comrades.

But anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse. Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live.

Well, yes, that was a difficult prediction, wasn’t it?

A truly revolutionary movement would seek to overturn this dysfunctional system, but mindfulness only serves to reinforce its destructive logic. The neoliberal order has imposed itself by stealth in the past few decades, widening inequality in pursuit of corporate wealth. People are expected to adapt to what this model demands of them. Stress has been pathologised and privatised, and the burden of managing it outsourced to individuals. Hence the pedlars of mindfulness step in to save the day.

Yep, don’t adapt to nor modify in order to enjoy this only world you’re ever going to see. Instead Suffer For The Cause. Comrades!

But none of this means that mindfulness ought to be banned, or that anyone who finds it useful is deluded. Reducing suffering is a noble aim and it should be encouraged. But to do this effectively, teachers of mindfulness need to acknowledge that personal stress also has societal causes. By failing to address collective suffering, and systemic change that might remove it, they rob mindfulness of its real revolutionary potential, reducing it to something banal that keeps people focused on themselves.

Well, maybe it’s OK if it teaches of the necessity of Revolutionary Consciousness. Comrades!

Ronald Purser is a professor of management at San Francisco State University, and the author of McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality (Watkins, 2019)

The Cal State system is an outgrowth of the teacher training college system. Not, at all, to be confused with UC, the University of California. Akin to Islington Technical College but without the intellectual rigour.

2
Leave a Reply

avatar
2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
Quentin VoleTD Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
TD
Guest
TD

San Francisco State was and perhaps still is a pretty decent school, largely catering to less affluent students or working people taking night classes. I’ve taken classes there myself and was generally happy with the quality of the instructors and the motivation of fellow students. It can show a long list of graduates who’ve had successful careers. However, they’ve got their whacko instructors too, probably more than it used to. Unfortunately, the same applies to the University of California and perhaps even to Islington Technical College.

Quentin Vole
Guest
Quentin Vole

As with meditation as a way of ameliorating the effects of stress, I’ve always taken the view that if you can spend half an hour a day contemplating the sound of one hand clapping, your life probably isn’t actually all that stressful.