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Thread: Our Ignorance is no Accident

  1. #1 Our Ignorance is no Accident 
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    Our Ignorance is no Accident

    One technique used to maintain the slave economy in the Antebellum South was to outlaw any form of behavior that allowed the slave to become learned. It was necessary that the slave not only be illiterate but that s/he be isolated as much as possible from the world around them; if they knew little of the outside world they were more easily confined, constrained, and controlled.

    Ignorance in the free white community and the black slave community in Antebellum South was no accident. I suspect the depth of ignorance within the American population today is, likewise, no accident.

    Potlatch was a common characteristic of primitive cultural practice and ritual. Potlatch ceremonies were a common practice in the winter months because the summer months were busy times for gathering wealth for the family and community.

    Quickie from wiki:
    “Sponsors of a potlatch give away many useful items such as food, blankets, worked ornamental mediums of exchange called "coppers", and many other various items. In return, they earned prestige. To give a potlatch enhanced one’s reputation and validated social rank, the rank and requisite potlatch being proportional, both for the host and for the recipients by the gifts exchanged. Prestige increased with the lavishness of the potlatch, the value of the goods given away in it…The status of any given family is raised not by who has the most resources, but by who distributes the most resources. The hosts demonstrate their wealth and prominence through giving away goods.”

    In primitive communities social life was a continuous dialogue of gift giving and reciprocation. When there was food there was food for all when there was scarcity all shared in this scarcity. The successful hunter kept the least desirable parts of the kill for himself and gave the most desirable to the community. “This was the core truth in the myth of primitive communism.”

    Primitive man was judged not by the magnitude of his accumulated wealth but by the magnitude of his shared wealth.


    Present day economic theories are of a self-regulating system of markets. Such a social theory did not come from history. We are taught that this practice of private property and gain are the natural order of human social evolution; such is not the case. “Gain and profit made in exchange never before played an important part in human economy.”

    Adam Smith theorized that the division of labor results from man’s “propensity to barter, truck, and exchange one thing for another…This phrase was later to yield the concept of the Economic Man.” This observation represents a misreading of the past and a great fallacy that has led us into today’s culture of human social behavior becoming dominated by economic ideology.

    We must discard some 19th century prejudices underlying the hypothesis of primitive man’s predilection for gainful employment. The bias that caused Smith and his generation to incorrectly view primitive man induced succeeding generations to lose interest in early man.

    “The tradition of the classical economics, who attempted to base the law of the market on the alleged propensities of man in the state of nature, was replaced by an abandonment of all interest in the cultures of “uncivilized” man as irrelevant to an understanding of the problems of our age.”

    Anthropologists inform us today that there has been a remarkable sameness for all societies throughout earlier history and that sameness is “that man’s economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social assets…the economic system will be run on noneconomic motives…All social obligations are reciprocal.”

    Our present economic system of acquisition with little or no regard for the rest of society is not our naturally evolved culture. This is a totally artificial system that we have been raised to recognize as a natural phenomenon. Our ignorance of many things is maintained by those who manage to control social policy and especially our educational systems.

    We are maintained in a semi sophisticated state of ignorance in order to prevent us from critically evaluating our institutions and changing them in a manner that is less alienating to our nature.

    Quotes from “The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time” by Karl Polanyi


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  3. #2  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Unfortunately you have left out the important bit - you have not named the entity that is keeping us ignorant, and enquiring minds want to know. Is it:

    The geniuses who just lost the election?
    The Freemasons?
    The John Birch Society?
    The National Teachers’ Union?
    The National Football League?
    National Public Radio?
    Al Qaeda?
    Halliburton?
    All of the above?
    None of the above?

    Please do tell.


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  4. #3  
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    Perphaps it is not a specific group rather the general nature of our society as it functions betwen groups. Also a patchwork of individuals and groups working independently through time, for some specific trival aim, and all these incidents create a trend
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Unfortunately you have left out the important bit - you have not named the entity that is keeping us ignorant, and enquiring minds want to know. Is it:

    The geniuses who just lost the election?
    The Freemasons?
    The John Birch Society?
    The National Teachers’ Union?
    The National Football League?
    National Public Radio?
    Al Qaeda?
    Halliburton?
    All of the above?
    None of the above?

    Please do tell.
    CA (Corporate America) has developed a well-honed expertise in motivating the population to behave in a desired manner. Citizens as consumers are ample manifestation of that expertise. CA has accomplished this ability by careful study and implementation of the knowledge of the ways of human behavior. I suspect this same structure applies to most Western democracies.

    A democratic form of government is one wherein the citizens have some voice in some policy decisions. The greater the voice of the citizens the better the democracy.

    In America we have policy makers, decision makers, and citizens. The decision makers are our elected representatives and are, thus, under some control by the voting citizen. The policy makers are the leaders of CA; less than ten thousand individuals, according to those who study such matters. Policy makers exercise significant control of decision makers by controlling the financing of elections.

    Policy makers customize and maintain the dominant ideology in order to control the political behavior of the citizens. This dominant ideology exercises the political control of the citizens in the same fashion as the consuming citizen is controlled by the same dominant ideology.

    An enlightened citizen is the only means to gain more voice in more policy decisions. An enlightened citizen is much more than an informed citizen. Critical thinking is the only practical means to develop a more enlightened citizen. If, however, we wait until our CT trained grade-schoolers become adults I suspect all will be lost. This is why I think a massive effort must be made to convince today’s adults that they must train themselves in CT.


    “Thomas R. Dye, Professor of Political Science at Florida State University, has published a series of books examining who and what institutions actually control and run America. to understand who is making the decisions that affect our lives, we also have to understand how societies structure themselves in general. Why the few always tend to share more power than the many and what this means in terms of both a society's evolution and our daily lives. they examined the other 11 institutions that exert just as powerful a shaping influence, although somewhat more subtle: The Industrial, Corporations, Utilities and Communications, Banking, Insurance Investment, Mass Media, Law, Education Foundation, Civic and Cultural Organizations, Government, and the Military.”
    http://www.21stcenturyradio.com/12-dye.html
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  6. #5  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    You write that “The greater the voice of the citizens the better the democracy”, and you also write that the citizens are ignorant. Ignorant people making more noise would seem to be a recipe for the mobocracy that this country’s founders specifically sought to avoid by designing a republic.

    But I agree with some of what you write – corporatism is a development that has some similarities with fascism, the main difference being that corporatism exists within a democracy so can be resisted and reversed if we decide to do it, while fascism requires a dictatorship to ensure its continued existence. This is why corporatism briefly became fascism in Chile under the dictator Pinochet, but with Pinochet gone, democracy is back, and corporations have been reined in somewhat, to the great benefit of the general population.

    The “well-honed expertise” of the corporations to manipulate us (and the mechanism is through the media and through lobbying the congress and the president – right?) seems to have resulted in the near bankruptcy of GM and Ford. These same corporate puppetmasters seem not to have gotten the president they would have liked either, or the congress. So I agree that corporations (for example Halliburton, which I mentioned as a metaphor if you like, for your CA) have achieved far too much influence, and this has been the root cause of many of our current problems. However, the example of the auto companies, and Halliburton, and the great banks that are failing, suggest that corporate hubris soon leads to corporate downfall, and the rejection of corporately sponsored products and policies by we the consumers was not part of the corporate plan. In other words, absent a dictatorship the “CA” that you worry so much about probably has far less real control than you imagine.
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