Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A must read: Combating ignorance, avoiding arrogance - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Okay... I do not share this writer's views on the wars. My views are slightly different and have changed over time. To call myself with pro war or anti war, when it comes to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, is way too simple. My feelings are complex, ambivalent, have changed over time, several times, and would take many pages to explain and discuss. And they are very different than this writer's.

However, when he starts discussing his perceptions of manipulated and willful ignorance, I think he is dead on. In fact, I think his breakdown of these issues makes this a must read article.

Combating ignorance, avoiding arrogance - Opinion - Al Jazeera English"It is always tempting to label political opponents ignorant and bemoan their stupidity: If only they could know what we know and understand as we understand, then certainly they would adopt our politics. I try not to fall into that trap, realising that in a complex world reasonable people can disagree. But if we are to confront the challenges ahead we have to recognise that the contemporary United States is both a technologically advanced society with an educational system that is first-rate on some criteria, yet at the same time is also a profoundly ignorant society.


There is no survey data to chart the scope of, and reasons for, this [willed] ignorance. But in two decades of political work, I have watched countless people use this strategy. There seem to be two routine ways to ensure this not-knowing. One is to avoid exposure to any in-depth information and analysis, even though one has the resources and time to find and evaluate the material - keep your head down and don’t look at what’s happening. We can call this a deliberate diversion from a disturbing world.

The other strategy, employed by those who are too curious to ignore the world around them, is to bemoan the lack of trustworthy news sources, or express confusion over the mutually exclusive accounts of the world that circulate, or note the maddening level of complexity in a globalised world - whatever the reason, there are so many impediments that to actually know anything is impossible. We can call this a feigned frustration with a complex world.

Affluence increases not only the likelihood of political inaction but also of willed ignorance. That is, people who are materially comfortable in a society are not only less likely to take the serious risks that radical politics requires but more likely to avoid knowing things that will force them to ask why they aren’t acting."

'via Blog this'

No comments: