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OEITH #118 Social Class, Identity, and Plato's Cave

OEITH #118 Social Class, Identity, and Plato's Cave

Update: 2021-08-15


In this episode we examine the pride, the pain, and the double-edged nature of identification, exploring along the way: a difference in attitudes towards work; the influence of a working-class upbringing; a working-class perspective on work, and its conflicts with a middle-class perspective; the struggle to identify with professional roles; Aidan Wachter on identification as a magical technique; the liberating potential of identification and identification as a trap; my continuing identification with being working class; the imposition of identification; against the (classist) argument that education changes social class; working-class alienation from power and privilege; professional identity as a means of exploitation of the middle class; middle-class discontent; varieties of identification; identification as the mother of all defence mechanisms; Jacques Lacan on identification and "the mirror stage"; identification and the birth of the ego as captivation in an image; identification and ignorance; Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, Never Let Me Go, about some unusual students; Ishiguro's genius for depicting the limited understanding of his characters; the horror of the students' surrender to their fate; Ishiguro's novel as an analogy for the creation of social class; education as a means of ensuring docility; the film The Island (2005) as a Hollywood variation on the same theme; the fantasy of breaking out of an oppressive reality into another one; an annoying feature of The Matrix (1999); the impossibility of self-transformation; Plato's allegory of the cave; how the prisoners are conditioned to imprison themselves; Russell Brand on the décor of power; the social sense of "belonging" for the working and middle class; the ruling class at home in and beyond the law; shame and guilt as instruments of social control; the shift into identity politics and away from social class; identity politics in "heroic" and "tragic" modes; enduring shame and guilt; the escape from Plato's cave and what this might signify; a hope for a spiritual, anti-materialism as a future, defining philosophy for the Left.

Michael Bay, director (2005). The Island. DreamWorks Pictures.

BBC Newsnight (2013). Paxman vs Russell Brand - full interview, (

Mark Fisher (2014). For now, our desire is nameless, (

Kazuo Ishiguro (2005). Never Let Me Go. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Jacques Lacan (1949). The mirror stage as formative of the “I” function as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. In: Écrits, translated by Bruce Fink, New York: Norton, 2006.

Plato (1997). Republic, translated by G.M.A. Grube and C.D.C. Reeve, 514-517. In: Plato: Complete Works, edited by J.M. Cooper, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.

Luxa Strata (2021). Lux Occult Podcast #29: Visualization demystified and imagination magick re-imagined with Aidan Wachter, (

Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski, directors (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.









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OEITH #118 Social Class, Identity, and Plato's Cave

OEITH #118 Social Class, Identity, and Plato's Cave

Duncan Barford