Liberty Lessens as Literacy Weakens

Are we able to imagine that the lessening of liberty or the erosion of our civil rights has anything to do with waning literacy, our inability to express ourselves in the written word. No one can tell me in good conscience that what passes for education in the Public Schools, or what is maintained as the educational standards in many of the institutions of higher learning across the country, especially in the community colleges, has anything to do with the traditions of universita or of liberty or fraternity, which is also sorority, or equality. What passes for education in our schools has only to do with the most topical and relevant in learning, supported by a pedagogy that initially and ultimately panders to the new student as patron, student as customer, university as store.  Weakness is weakness, though, just as strength remains strength.  The latter can only cleave to the latter, never the former.  This is immutable.  We who oppose contemporary politics as it has been played in the arenas of states across our globe, have also helped create a cultural weakness in itself a strength only in its power to debilitate.  We have to look at our contemporary civilization’s guiding metaphysics, look to our participation in our culture’s assault on reason, on Truth, the idea of it and the existence of it where and when it manifests; we have to look to these and to how in love with doubt as a form of wisdom we have come to be in order to understand something of how power has become more powerful and money more monied, and how the media has helped by paying attention to the mandates of advertising rather than Truth. The former, advertising, is only the flip side of propaganda.

We should look closely at our most recent historical precedence over the last one hundred or more years, particularly the last fifty or sixty, whereby our society’s guiding metaphysics, and the guiding metaphysics of the West in general, has developed at its core a nihilism that has pervaded systemically. We now live in a culture whose heartbeat is doubt, doubt, doubt. With what passes for education and literacy in America–that is, what is accepted as literate enough, educated enough–it is no wonder how we get the politicians we get, have the politics we have.  Do we expect any politician other than Bush or Cheney or Bloomburg or Spitzer, or Cuomo or Clinton, or Wiener, or De Blasio? We cannot. We will not see other than the likes of Obama so long as the media manages campaigns the way totalitarian societies manage their propaganda. I was told by a man from the Soviet Union once that the people get the government they deserve based on their expectations, their will or lack thereof. I was not so sure that I understood, but I imagine that I do, somewhat. Understanding can happen without agreement. Nevertheless, with how we manage our pedagogy and our schools and our literacy, there are no surprises in our politics. The horrors of our social existence have their logic. Everyone everywhere prefers to go along to get along, but like the man who climbs the wrong ladder in life, where do they end up in the end? Some of you might say rich–but then, those who only go along to get along are not the one’s getting rich.

Any contemporary politico would not be any better; it is the system that suffers endemically from a malady that avoids serving the people and only supports the State against those people they pretend to serve. When we have so little respect for learning, for language, for the literary–when our reverence for writing is so flaccid–when what we say is policed by bureaucrats–when petty authority becomes less and less literate, narrowed and narrowing in their measures of control–when we possess so little love and passion for speaking and for writing, even less for any of the higher literary endeavors that have been the cornerstones of our culture and civilization, the foundation of civil liberty as we once understood it to be a protector and server of The People, when all of these are true and proliferate, how could we expect to have anything but a society committed to making Power more powerful and Money more monied . . . a litany of warning and regret I have been indulging for years, virtually to no avail.  The Mass Media in our country is thoroughly aligned with Money and Power. They cannot serve Liberty or even Freedom of the press. News in America is more like media in the former Soviet Union than anything Jefferson or Madison imagined as an organ of the People. Madison understood fully the weight the People were to carry in a society; they were the only institution–and the People are a social institution–that has enough weight, that carries enough density to counterbalance the weight of the State. However, in a society as systematically undereducated as ours, the People are divested of their responsibility–the People are lead into abdicating their role as the People for what appears to be a more lucrative role as a Public. The Public, as I have on numerous occasions in other essays, is the People in service of the State. They have no weight other than that added to the weight of the State levied against the People, and that’s Jefferson’s We the People.


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