Thursday, January 18, 2007

Losing the Mind

A couple of mornings ago, I had the radio on while preparing to go out. I wasn't listening to the programme. I had merely failed to switch it off. I then realised that what I had been ignoring was the context of the broadcast dialogues which assumed that the only context for and value of a degree, of a higher qualification, was that of employability. “Nothing new” I thought. Later, I realised I have become accustomed to accepting the victory of such an outlook, of such devaluation of the mind, of life. That the only value of education is the cynically practical goal of the facilitation of earning as distinct from the facilitation of learning, of questioning, of an awakening of personal capacity for reason.

The earning not learning mentality is the dream of tyrants, of fascists, the goal of the corporate creed. All knowledge, all “learning” is reduced to the status of a commodity, and if a particular commodity is not in demand or of insignificant demand, then it has no value. It will not be provided for (except in a few costly institutions patronised by the offspring of the eccentric rich). The Humanities – Arts, History, Classics, Philosophy, Languages, Literature – become marginalised and dismissed as irrelevant. In an already secular world, where a context of human history has been abandoned, the conceptions of philosophy, of some sense of spirit (shared humanistic or prospectively transcendent) have been omitted in the new canons of social doctrine. A foundation for Ethics has been dismantled. The personally experiential and an independence of reason are dismissed as irrelevant. The capacity to question and resist the interpretation of the world as offered by political, corporate or religious tyrants and their agents is, in all of that, reduced.

The face of tyranny would seek to induce and exploit fear: “I am here to protect you from...” (Here insert one of the following - terrorism, aliens, poverty, disease, the insane, criminals, the poor, extremists, anyone under the age of 21) and with the caveat “as long as you co-operate”. If you don't co-operate, you become socially excluded and in that will fall into one of the preceding categories. When the ability to reason for oneself, to question, to understand more of a context of history and cultures is limited by the stifling of the intellect, then the barbarians are loose among us and have their victory in sight.



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