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This book is all about the path towards truly revolutionary liberation. Paulo Freire makes it clear right away that it is the oppressed who need to free themselves as well as their oppressors. Oppressors will never be liberators. It is the oppressed who have the capacity to mobilize and transform and humanize. But first individual’s consciousnesses need to be awakened. Oppressors have designed and implemented a belief that reality is fixed and cannot be changed. This is just how it is *shrug*. To be conscious, however, is to see reality as transformative, something the can be altered. But most people feel necessarily helpless and busy and divisive. And that’s what keeps the regime running. We are jealous of each other, secretly hoping it’ll be us who succeeds instead of seeking a new way of succeeding as a whole.
Freire focuses primarily on extreme poverty as a model for freeing everyone from current modes of dehumanization. Because freedom is about collaboration and dialogue, there is a responsibility for the slightly better off people (professionals, leaders, conscious members of the oppressive class) to work in solidarity with oppressed people instead of ever trying to give them their freedom. Liberation cannot be gifted. Any kind of charity is a scam. Freire calls it false generosity because the only reason oppressors have the extra funds or stuff is because they’ve exploited workers in order to get it. To “give back” a piece of it is not just patronizing but also unsuccessful. The clearest explanation for the vision is actually in a translator’s footnote earlier on: “the term subjects denotes those who know and act, in contrast to objects, which are known and acted upon.” It’s active dissatisfaction with the objectification of human life.