by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ October 15, 2020
We are living with ignorance pretending to be knowledge. People who think about this, sometimes called philosophers or just wordy pains in the ass, have been saying this for a couple of thousand years. In Western thought, a good example is Plato’s Meno. This realization goes back even further in China and India in forms such as, he who knows does not say, and he who says does not know.
With a little thought, you may realize that what I am saying about knowledge has several layers. The references are, also, not directly addressing the definition of knowledge or its value. But that gets very sticky, i.e., wordy, and we have more immediate problems.
Anyone with education beyond high school and concern for the US’s political, economic, and structural collapse has been struggling with the loss of truth and fact and what that means to our survival. The concerted effort to convince receptive parts of the population that fact does not matter and all expertise is a lie is a form of evil.
While this generates great anxiety and fear, people have had difficulty building significant opposition to this evil. For lack of a better term, this great lethargy seems to come from having lost our belief in progress and human improvement. This loss of Western civilization’s motivational force based on science and growth can only be fatal.
The problem is not recognizing evil and insanity, which is evident in the case of Donald Trump, but the unanswerable question of a replacement motivational force to act in our survival. The secondary recognition of that lack heightens and intensifies the anxiety over much of the planet. The missing motivation feels wrong because we have lost something but can’t remember it.
This dilemma is much like Meno’s Paradox of not knowing what we don’t know, making us unable to recognize the answer if we see it. In terms of the mid 21st century, we have lost a vision of the future that seems possible. Not knowing what to look for, we are susceptible to quacks and opportunists.
Fortunately, quacks, con artists, and opportunists rely on noise, lies, and flawed logic. Or, in Trump’s case, whatever he can get people to believe. That becomes obvious to a growing number of people, no matter how determined to believe the lie. Even if the future is not clear, people become convinced of what the future should not be.
The US’s intense movement to register to vote and vote early driving polls toward a massive Trump and Trump party defeat shows this. Whether this removes Trump and his regime is an open question, but most of the US population’s goal to achieve this is clear. That success or failure is a vast but different issue.
Knowing what we don’t want the future to be, racist, fascist, and authoritarian, does not define what we both want and need for that future. We have multiple layers of cultural problems that are blocking our future. The common theme in those problems is a failure to communicate the full range of our future needs because of a very high institutional resistance to admitting the pending disaster’s scale.
This institutional resistance’s primary form is to minimize the problems by isolating them from the broader reality. This technique has reached a high art in the US that allows the covering up of disastrous changes by an overwhelming onslaught of daily information. This technique fully accepts Hitler’s Big Lie via Russian KGB and GRU evolution of misinformation campaigns but sees this as part of American Exceptionalism and, therefore, valid. This attitude is Capitalist Realism that assumes there is no other possible way to organize society economically, so there is nothing to discuss.
The cognitive dissonance that results allows long articles on the rapid climate improvement produced by the pandemic inactivity while concurrently advocating an immediate restart of the climate-destroying late capitalist economies. That stopping the human economic suffering is only possible by doing what we did before is never seriously questioned in the US.
There are side mentions of Universal Basic Income, as exists now in Canada and other successful states, but it must be an illusion. It is an illusion because of the rigid, dogmatic acceptance of endless growth capitalism as the only acceptable solution. Only fringe politicians will talk about those things, and that talk marks them as fringe politicians. The justification and maintenance of the illusion are circular.
Yet, the climate crisis articles describe in great detail how we are, at most, fifteen years away from creating an unacceptable level of the human disaster in the Western hemisphere and the rest of the planet. But that is over in the Climate and Science sections and has nothing to do with more important things such as politics and economics.
How will people survive if not paid to make, transport, and sell things we don’t need? And if they won’t starve because they have no job, how will we get them to do those destructive jobs? No one can be allowed to see that all of these things are inherently connected because then we would know that we are idiots.
The political shitshow that is the devolved form of US politics wears blinders of ignorance to protect the vested interests. Because no one is willing to question that lack of answers for the future, we have an insane psychopath on one side and a nearsighted political factotum on the other with no future to see. This blindness is not by an evil intent on Biden’s side but by a lifetime of unquestioning subservience to what once worked.
All of this compartmentalized avoidance is ignorance masquerading as knowledge. While no one is openly lying in these separate compartments, at least in the mainstream media, the failure to connect these things calls all truth into question. We recognize dangerous facts here and other hazardous realities there, but we can never address them together because we cannot see the connections and hidden results. If we did, we would panic.
We all know there are many kinds of lies and lying by omission is always the easiest to make stick. In this case, we are one step removed from omission because we are only omitting the connections and the future. That destroys the logic, not just of our story, but the logic of our planet as our home.