A harsh look at the ignorance that affects our society as a whole, and an explanation for why the powerful have no problem keeping you in the dark.
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”
― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good ―
We are all susceptible to the influence and power of others. We also crave to have it for ourselves.
We watch those who do, and all we do is hate. If we can’t have it, then neither should they. We are no longer taught to understand the power of the people so we forget what if feels like to have any power at all. Over time we start to believe that we have little or no power at all.
As a society, we have outsourced our intellect to a large group of social, political and financial oligarchs. We have given way to a new type of tyranny. Digital tyranny. A version that hides in plain sight and secretly wishes to take control of everything, including your behaviors.
We see some story on Twitter and take it at face value. We hear the satirical perspective from a social celebrity and let it shape our opinions and ideology, but rarely think to explore the topic deeper. We never read proposed legislation before it’s passed. Instead, we rely on those who wrote it to tell us how great this next new law is going to be. Instead we find ourselves fighting about left vs right, while both are nothing but wrong.
Most of us don’t know how governments are created, how they work, or how they are destroyed. Why then, would we notice that our own government is falling apart right in front of us? We pay little attention to other countries who are facing or have faced the same perils we face, so why would we pay any attention when it happens here at home?
It’s not that you are all stupid
After all, I have no Idea how smart any of you actually are. For all I know you are a 4.0 grade-getting, chess-club-running, pocket-protector-wearing, three-degree-having, bad motherfucker who knows a lot about something.
I’m just saying that in spite of all the things you know, you still have no clue as to what any of it actually means. And by any of “it,” I mean life in general.
Sure, you graduated high school, maybe went to college, got a job, got married, bought a house, had a kid, etc. But the question I want you to ask yourself is this; what do you really know about any of it? What is your purpose in life? Other than to exist that is?
“Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.”
― Napoleon ―
We’ve been trained to be idiots
You can use the word interchangeably if you’d like. Slaves, surfs, peasants, proletariat, or whatever popular label you’d like to put on the purposely oppressed people that have populated this planet over the years.
The powers that be have always controlled the people through the flow of information and we are all to happy to accept their projections as our realities. We are happy to have a place to lay our heads and we take for granted the responsibility of what it means to live in a free country.
So many people walk around thinking they know something about anything, but in reality, all they know are the things they think the know. And really, what kind of benchmark is that for understanding anything in life?
What would the world be like if all that we needed to do to flourish and to understand it was to sit around and watch? At what point are you going to admit to yourself that in order to accomplish anything, you have to go out and do something? You must learn to experience and influence the people and the world around you in order to truly elevate your intellect?
That’s the way the world works. Someone has an idea, then they do something about it and in the process of building, refining and distributing that idea, they convert it into a reality. Often creating something from nothing.
The problem is that inside of that growth comes power and with that power comes perversion.
As we begin to create and manipulate the methods of information distribution (governments, religions, businesses), power shifts to the individuals who control and manipulate the flow of that information. Often embracing the structure and benefit of power but repressing you, or anyone else from finding it for themselves. This is the problem that has lead us to where we are.
“If you are not open to the idea that everything you know might be wrong, then you are likely to be wrong about most things.”
― Raymmar Tirado ―
Think about the power that entities like Google, Facebook or the NSA have amassed recently. All of the things we fear most about any of them are the invasions of our privacy as they manipulate the flow of our personal information.
We are seeing larger and larger power structures spring up around the flow of this precious information. As if information were becoming the ultimate and final currency. One that gives the bearer the power to control entire civilizations, regardless of their country of origin.
The first groups of man did it through grunts and chest-thumps, cave drawings, swords and story telling. Then came written languages and and eventually books. Now we have radio, television and the internet. All results of technological innovation. All brilliant in their own right, but all easily manipulated for power. All easily used to exert control over the narratives that then become the societies we live in.
Every time humanity meets a new invention that allows for the mass distribution of information we see these fluctuations in social behavior. We see new influencers emerge and old pockets of power fade. Superpowers are born, then they die or adapt to fit in with the new technology of the time.
Publishing houses, media companies, news organizations, revolutions, wars, and even new governments, all born from the desire of one man (or a group of men) to control another. The advantage always siding with whoever has the best information at the time of battle.
Winners write the history books…
So who is writing the books that are putting the thoughts inside of your head? Where did you get your understanding of life? What experiences have made you, you?
Did you get your information from the same place as everyone else or have you gone out to find it for yourself? Did you ever stop to wonder why some things stay the same while others are constantly evolving? Is it because stillness is the natural state of the universe or is it because man has intended those things to remain stagnant.
It seems to me that the universe and nature itself is always changing and evolving, always adapting to the most efficient version of itself. Why then, have we as a society stalled when it seems we should have everything we’ve ever needed to solve all of the problems we’ve ever had?
Why does it seem like humanity is sliding backwards?
Why does it feel like we are regressing as an entire species? Why can’t we make meaningful change, and how come there seems to be less-and-less on which to rest our hopes on as more-and-more changes take place around us?
How is it possible that we are still letting the same flaws that have hindered humanity since the beginning of time slow us down when everything around us seems to be speeding up?
Is it really so hard to believe that the people who would want to control you would also rather you remain ignorant. They prefer you that way. It makes the process of keeping you under their control easier. This is what we must resist.
This is the unrest we are starting to see all around us. We are watching as the established powers, fight to defend their existing control over the flow of information, while new methods of distribution pop up faster than they can be shut down.
You are seeing information fight to be free but these fights always end in ferocious battles. Sometimes in the courts but often in cold blood. And every once in a while, in grand scale with a global war.
Their power will be protected at all costs and we must no longer be willing to accept that as our reality. We must wage this war of ideas now in order to stop the oppressive war that waits for us at the end of inaction.
In what America was just-good ever good-enough?
In order to drive any meaningful change you must be willing to go hungry, to be bored. You must be willing to be uncomfortable, to do what is difficult and refuse what is easy.
It’s hard to let your intellect evolve. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you have been wrong about the things that have felt so right your entire life.
It’s almost impossible to make those changes alone. So for most of us things will stay the same, that is to say, until they’re not.
One of these days the changes will affect you. They will finally make an impact in your life and your reality as you know it will be revealed as ridiculous. You will be left running and screaming for help as if the sky were just starting to fall. But in that moment you will know that it is already too late.
In that moment you will know that your ignorance has finally failed you.
What do you think about ignorance and power? Let me know in the comments below.
Eric Liu: Why ordinary people need to understand power
A friend sent me this video as I was editing this article and it goes right along with my greater point so I thought I would share.