Saturday, 20 August 2016

our anti-intellectual age

At present we are increasingly seeing a move towards the right on the political spectrum to be in misalignment with science and intellectual thought. This wasn’t always the case but in the United States you will now find the Republican Party has become the warehouse for climate change deniers, Biblical Old Testament literalists, End of Times evangelicals, outright racists, gun nuts and other odd balls.

This is not to say that everyone is this way but they seem to have more than their fair share. But then they went looking for them.

As a reactionary move, the American intelligentsia seems to have either moved away from politics all together or jumped on board with the Democrats. Here is where having a two party system doesn’t really help matters and you are forced to hold your nose and side with one of them or simply tune out.

What the Republicans did decades ago was to gather up all the evangelicals and all those who pined for traditional family values and tell them that their country was going to hell in a hand basket.

We in Canada suffered a milder version of that experience with the odorous Stephen Harper going as far as muzzling scientists when their findings didn’t agree with governmental policy. His oil buddies in the tar sands wouldn’t have been happy with him otherwise prompting Dr. David Suzuki to state that he thought Harper should be in jail for this great injustice.

In general the world is less interested in facts and more in aligning themselves with the group that agrees with their ideas which is an absolute shame. You don’t have to reflect or change your mind about something but simply find the right specialty channel or radio show that dogmatically broadcasts your particular mantra.

This in a nutshell is a type of anti-intellectualism that I don’t think has us going on the right path.

When I see young adults bumping into lampposts or, as the young woman below, getting run over by traffic while trying to catch a virtual Pokémon Monster for lack of better pursuits it only reinforces my fear that we are getting dumber.


gotta catch that Monster...oops!

4 comments:

  1. Dear Joanna,

    I’m afraid I’m going to disagree with you here, at least regarding your comments about the United States – which is where I live. The way I read your post I come away with a premise that people are dumbing down, the elite/intelligentsia are taking a laissez faire approach, and thus we see the rise of people like Trump, the Religious Right, and denial of climate change.

    I believe we have always had a variety of strong views, opinions, and self-interest throughout history. There’s lots of examples but Lincoln and the US Civil War comes to mind. Or how about WW2? Anyway, the US government was set up with three branches, checks and balances, and all the rest, in such a way that we hope we can achieve steady progress even when, as we know, there are so many powerful factions in the population.

    Unfortunately the last few years have been terrible, with Bush’s presidency, the rise of the Tea Party in the Republican Party, and other movements that have created a stalemate between the Legislative and Executive branches. I’m thinking lately that this is where Trump’s emergence and almost certain defeat is a good thing. It’s shining a spotlight on the Republican Party’s fractious groups and lack of cohesive platform, and many Republicans in the Senate and House may lose their seats in the upcoming election.

    So what then, is going on? I think we have four main issues:
    1. The Revolt of the Disenfranchised.
    2. Not Me Economics.
    3. We Hate Change, Let’s Not Grow Up.
    4. What’s Mine is Mine and It’s Fine If I Can Get Yours Too.

    The Revolt of the Disenfranchised
    I don’t know the statistics but we know that there are millions of US citizens who are either un- or under-employed, barely making ends meet or not at all. At one time they had solid manufacturing jobs that paid well. But the jobs have changed, the global economy has moved on, and these folks are mighty pissed off. They feel that they have been screwed. They are powerless and have no where to turn. I suspect that many see Trump for what he is but so what? From their perspective what do they have to lose? And it might be fun to watch the whole thing unfold on TV, like a real reality show.

    Not Me Economics
    There are three main problems with dealing with climate change. The first is that we have too many people, and the population growth isn’t abating. Thus, even if we could achieve some level of ecological balance now it will not last forever. The second problem is that for most it’s not a current issue and so it’s easy to ignore. Like saving (or not) for retirement, people tend to spend on large TV’s now and Junior’s braces rather than putting away for the future. Last, and worst, no one wants their lifestyle or economic position to change. And it will, big time, in the US (and Canada), and it also has to all over the world, in China, Russia, and India too. But those guys say, “Hey, you had a nice head start and so our economy lags the US’s a lot. It’s not fair for us to have to endure this crap! We deserve the right to catch up. Let’s talk about it later.”

    We Hate Change, Let’s Not Grow Up
    These are the folks who wave the flag of religion in front of abortion rights, trans rights, and so much more. And then there’s the ones who just don’t understand why they should not be allowed to own an Uzi, much less ten of them, with ten thousand rounds. After all, they have a right to be prepared, correct? And sure, if some innocents get killed in the meantime we can shake our collective heads and then turn our heads back to the TV to watch Trump.

    What’s Mine is Fine, and It’s Fine If I Can Get Yours Too
    The Republican drumbeat continues. Bush, Chaney, Ryan, Boehner, Fiorina, Trump … and so many more. Clearly these people don’t have a care in the world for anyone but themselves and their friends. They do rig the system to keep theirs and prevent systems that might rein in their ridiculous wealth and power.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now! :-)

    Emma

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  2. Emma I love Americans and America but I fear that the what's mine is mine approach does not seem to be working. The collective approach that other countries espouse works to make sure that the lowest people have at least some basics of life and this you saw in the States even into the 1970's but today things are different. Disenfranchisement is very real and for good reason: the system is rigged and you won't get yours unless you belong to the right team. This is why trickle down economics was such a sham. People just built their plants in Bangladesh to make more profit. The drum beats get louder and everyone has their own radio or television station; FOX News is literally unwatchable garbage. The problem will only continue to get worse until something drastic happens...

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  3. you do make some excellent points by the way which I don't want to address one by one LOL...

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  4. Hi Joanna,

    I don't take offense to your writing at all! I just think about this stuff a lot, too, and wanted to offer my counterpoint.

    I agree completely that the what's mine is mine approach isn't working - at least for those who don't have it. There is so darned much that isn't working. And while I believe the President is an extremely important leader and can do a lot for all of us and the world I also know there are significant limits to what they can actually do. It's certainly not a job that I would like. (I wonder how the White House staff would feel about me running around in a dress or skirt from time to time!)

    The system is rigged in many ways, I agree with that, too. But "rigged" is a loaded word. I don't believe there is a conspiracy for example, as Trump likes to imply. I do believe there are many power brokers (e.g., Cheney) who conspire with others of their ilk to do and get what they want. But I also believe that we have many opportunities to pull ourselves individually up into society.

    I also completely agree with you about Fox. I only listen to NPR and rarely watch television news or TV at all anymore. I do like to read The New York Times!

    XXXOOOXXX,

    Emma

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