Mary helped the robber get away? Wha? I guess this strip illustrates
the difference between theory and practice. When you read philosophy,
you learn how the world works. You gain a greater sense of reality by
losing touch with reality. Part of this is seeing everything around you
as part of large social structures. Another part is questioning the
given reasons how something—like the police—function in our society. The
best part of philosophy is tying everyone’s actions to their penis (or
lack thereof) and a desire to fuck their parents.
Some French Guy’s Theory, Bro
Mary’s giving you some of the philosophy of this French Marxist named
Althusser. He’s basically the smartest philosopher who ever strangled
his wife in a fit of temporary insanity that I know of. Being a Marxist,
he has to wonder why the people haven’t realized they need a
revolution. I mean come on…wake up, sheeple as Althusser used to say to
his colleagues at the École Normale Supérieure, an elite French
Althusser theorized, probably while smoking a lot of cigarettes, that
it was not law or the force of the military that made people believe a
nation’s ideology, but instead the social structures that make us who we
are—our parents, schools, churches—that cause us to live under a
government’s power without revolt.
So, when it comes to the police, it’s not necessarily the gun that
they carry, but the fact that collectively everyone believes they have
authority over us. According to Althusser, when people acknowledge the
police almost reflexively, it’s too late, they’re already a believer.
Pretty crazy, right? It’s like a Christopher Nolan movie!!
How to Be Right in Principle but Safe in Practice
So, Mary’s not wrong in theory. However, it’s in practice that she
really makes the wrong choice. How do we avoid doing that? Obviously,
when you’re being mugged is not the time to take a stand against the police state. Philosophically, she may be right in principle, but is she any safer?
That’s why rather than pyrrhic stands, I practice a philosophy of
pragmatism in which I find the problems of society and diagram them.
Then I come up with ways in which structural apparatuses have made these
symptoms. From there, I look at what sorts of policy levers can be
pulled and who needs to be contacted to do so. At that point, it’s about
influencing policymakers. The change takes a long time, years, but
eventually the world becomes a better place.
Just kidding. I just sit down in front of a computer with a baguette
in honor of Althusser and bitch on Twitter, then go back to real world.
Trivia: In college, Mary was a member of a radical leftist group that did reenactments of My Dinner with Andre.