Paulo Freire (on political “neutrality”)

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

Paulo Freire (1921-1997), from his classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He was a Brazilian educator, philosopher and community activist, and this quote skewers any possibility of sincere people maintaining an “oh, well, nothing I can do about…” attitude — about wealth and poverty, about “developed” and developing nations, about racial or class or religious prejudices — and thinking that this is somehow an even-handed approach. It favours the privileged, those established at the top of the hill, which seems rather obvious when we think about it. Most of us don’t. Look at me — I’ve been quoting Freire and thinking around the edges of commentaries about this highly influential work, and yet have never actually read the book. For shame! jeered the crowd.