Ideologies of American oppression: tracing capitalist discourses in 20th century protest literature
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Concluding paragraph: "Twentieth century America was a period of rapid expansion and change, and this is represented in the above-analyzed novels. By definition, protest literature exists with the intention to stimulate change, transformation—some humanistic progress. The authors sought to produce works that could function as artistic fuel for a movement away from the status quo and all the exploitative inequities inherent to their contemporary time. Unfortunately, the status quo exists supported by a discursive dominance that propagates the ideological aspects of a white supremacist patriarchal capitalist social system in such a way as to create a capitalist hegemonic regime. This extends to and includes The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, Native Son by Richard Wright, and Spartacus by Howard Fast, and while the content and plots of these novels in relationship to these ideologies may often attempt to undermine an aspect of the capitalist system, because of the socio-historic construction of the language they employ, there are substantial structural forces leading to the reinforcement of the capitalist hegemony. With an analytical framework constructed from the works Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks and History of Sexuality, vol. 1 by Michel Foucault, the texts’ utilization of racist ideological stereotypes, a biologically deterministic world view of sex and gender roles, and, in general, the discursive enactment of sexuality and the sex-truth-power technology of sex that has been so useful in the social control of Western society by elites within the system of capitalism, become easy to identify and criticize for providing support to American systems of domination and oppression. Finally, with the inclusion of The Dialogic Imagination by M. M. Bahktin, the texts receive a further reexamination as “living” documents. The can be understood as pieces of art that come from socio-historic locations and enter into dialogic contact with the ideological discourses of the contemporary present, past, and into the future. This dimension of time is likely the most critical to understanding any literature in a dialogic process, let alone 20th century protest literature: the context of identifiable social structures, evidenced as guilty of pervading and affecting literature at any point in time, does not deterministically lead to a perfect reflection of the culture of society. Instead, literature is representative of the dialogic experience of reality as in a constant state of dynamic flux, feeding back into itself with the experiences of the previous moment. In order to truly subvert the status quo, the author must interrogate in what ways their operative discourses play into the reinforcement of the dominant culture. Until then, efforts will be hampered by the ideological and discursive connections between all forms of oppression."