Manufactured Illiteracy

We hear it everywhere - "HyperPartisanship" and "The polarizing effect of everything having become over-politicized".

But the piece cited below points out how we're not "over-politicized" at all - just the opposite.

This is all about freezing as many of us in the middle as possible by doing whatever it takes to get a majority of us to react with, "Politics is fucked up - leave me out of it - I don't want anything to do with it cuz both sides are just as bad" and blah blah blah.

Billions of dollars are spent every year on advertising - commercial or political or the 24/7 GOP Pimpworks known as DumFux News. The people making the decisions to spend those billions are not stoopid people, and they don't spend that kinda money on something that doesn't work.


This thing is chock full of juicy nuggets.

Henry Giroux via Salon:

The reality of Trump’s election may be the most momentous development of the age because of its enormity and the shock it has produced. The whole world is watching, pondering how such a dreadful event could have happened. How have we arrived here? What forces have allowed education, if not reason itself, to be undermined as crucial public and political resources, capable of producing the formative culture and critical citizens that could have prevented such a catastrophe from happening in an alleged democracy? We get a glimpse of this failure of education, public values and civic literacy in the willingness and success of the Trump administration to empty language of any meaning, a practice that constitutes a flight from historical memory, ethics, justice and social responsibility.

--and--

Truth is now viewed as a liability and ignorance a virtue. Under the reign of this normalized architecture of alleged common sense, literacy is regarded with disdain, words are reduced to data and science is confused with pseudo-science. All traces of critical thought appear only at the margins of the culture as ignorance becomes the primary organizing principle of American society. For instance, two-thirds of the American public believe that creationism should be taught in schools and a majority of Republicans in Congress do not believe that climate change is caused by human activity, making the U.S. the laughing stock of the world. Politicians endlessly lie, knowing that the public can be easily seduced by exhortations, emotional outbursts and sensationalism, all of which mimic the fatuous spectacle of celebrity culture and reality TV. Image-selling now entails lying on principle, making it easier for politics to dissolve into entertainment, pathology and a unique brand of criminality.

--and--

The corruption of both the truth and politics is abetted by the fact that much of the American public has become habituated to overstimulation and lives in an ever-accelerating overflow of information and images. Experience no longer has the time to crystallize into mature and informed thought. Opinion now trumps reason and evidence-based arguments. News has become entertainment and echoes reality rather than interrogating it. Popular culture revels in the spectacles of shock and violence. Defunded and corporatized, many institutions of public and higher education have been all too willing to make the culture of business the business of education, and this transformation has corrupted their mission.

--and--

I am pointing to a more lethal form of manufactured illiteracy that has become a scourge and a political tool designed primarily to make war on language, meaning, thinking and the capacity for critical thought. Chris Hedges captures this demagogic attack on thoughtfulness in stating that “the emptiness of language is a gift to demagogues and the corporations that saturate the landscape with manipulated images and the idioms of mass culture.” Freedom now means removing one’s self from any sense of social responsibility so one can retreat into privatized orbits of self-indulgence, unbridled self-interest and the never-ending whirlwind of consumption.

--and--

This updated form of illiteracy does not simply constitute an absence of learning, ideas or knowledge. Nor can it be solely attributed to what has been called the “smartphone society.” On the contrary, it is a willful practice and goal used to actively depoliticize people and make them complicit with the political and economic forces that impose misery and suffering upon their lives. At the same time, illiteracy bonds people: It offers the pretense of a community bound by a willful denial of facts and its celebration of ignorance.

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