Monday, January 21, 2008

Ignorance & Greed!

Information about the manipulative nature of this administration is widely available, but people don’t want to hear it. Once and a while a story is spectacular enough to break through and attract media attention, but the swell quickly subsides into the general glut of bad news over which we, as citizens, have little control.

Coming at us like this–in waves, massed and unbreachable–knowledge becomes symbolic of our disempowerment–becomes bad knowledge–so we deny it, riding the crest until it subsides from consciousness. We have heard ourselves protesting, “I didn’t know!” but this is not true. Of course we knew about the deceptions –devisive naming conventions, like Patriot Act, Clear Skies, Leave-No-Child-Behind and Islamo-fascist. We knew that Saddham and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; knew that waging war on the other side of the planet would cost billions and that cutting taxes would not help pay for it. We knew that a war on Terror with no end and no defined adversary is unwinable; Knew that capturing votes through pitting gay marriage initiatives, anti-abortion issues and anti-gun rhetoric during an election was deceptive and manipulative. Not a lot perhaps, but we knew a little. We knew enough.

But we wanted the money, the revenge, the feeling of redemption- the security. So when the choice was offered to us, we chose to ignore what we knew. “Ignorance” In this root sense, ignorance was an act of will, a choice that we made over and over again, especially when information overwhelms us and knowledge becomes synonymous with impotence.

We would like to think of our “ignorance” less as a personal failing and more as a massive cultural trend, an example of doubling, of psychic numbing, that which characterized the end of the millennium. If we can’t act on knowledge, then we can’t survive without ignorance. So we cultivate the ignorance, even go to great lengths to celebrate it. The faux-dumb aesthetic that dominates TV and Hollywood –RealityTV, Fear Factor, faux-life terror dramas– must all be about this. Fed on a media diet of really bad news, we live in a perpetual state of repressed panic. We are paralyzed by bad knowledge, from which the only escape is playing dumb. Ignorance becomes empowering because it enables people to live. Stupidity becomes proactive, a political statement- Our collective norm.

Maybe this exempts us as an individual, but it sure makes us entirely culpable as global consumers.

Where do you stand?

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