The Earth has never been flat (while the solar system, in terms of its gasses, kind of is). This is fact that even the ancient Sumerians were aware of. But in these times of information hysteria, this seems to be less and less self-evident.
Why is that so? Who really benefits from this electronically-powered gathering of feeble-minded robbers?
Education and the acquisition of knowledge: On the one hand a driver of civilisation, and on the other a deadly and hard rod with which to clobber the oppressed. But also of resistance and revolt against the existing power structures.
This mechanism of both curiosity and documentation first appeared when the people of the stone age started doodling on their walls using pigments made from damp ash – and has been a great success for our species ever since.
From the earliest days, when we had just recently shed our furs and when thunder bolts and lightning were still very, very frightening, the politicians and economists of the period – shamans, priests and a whole lot of other quacks – have jealously guarded and misused knowledge for their own gain.
Simply condemning this as ‘bad or evil’ would be presumptuous and wrong. Turns out that trial and error is a fact of nature: Some are on trial and others are in error. But in the end, whether we like it or not, we are all part of everything.
To put it more fancy-free: We are all still in the stone age, but we have learned to pass our experience and understandings on to the next generation of cave dwellers.
In the guise of realpolitik, religion/faith always returns to its origins: a means of organising societies. Only by passing on knowledge and the human cataclysms that result, is religion regularly put into perspective and shattered. While phantasms are not viable in themselves, they do have an impact on life. It is up to the prevailing culture, if we will thrive or perish.
Passing on knowledge of history, the history of technological changes and history in general is vital. It happens without our doing, but the more we can make the transfer of this new knowledge a conscious and precise effort and be open to the insights that are being transferred, the more our societies will benefit. History education is an instrument of power. And that makes it a tool of domination in its most negative and destructive sense.
It should not come as a surprise that those benefitting from the status quo, or the criminals of their respective ages, will always try to put their hallmark on the greater narratives and instrumentalise them to further their own ends.
Not for nothing was the concept of reason [Kant] and the enlightenment vilified at first. But once they could no longer be held down, the attempt was made to simply redefine these ideas, and even pervert them into their polar opposite – and this goes on to this day. One example is the so-called ‘historikerstreit’ (i.e. the controversy in late-1980s Germany on how best to deal with the post-world-war-II German reality).
Education has always been used as a mark of privilege and tool for keeping people in their place. Not until the enlightenment and later Marx, the socialist revolutions, and then Keynesianism following the catastrophe of the World War (Episodes I & II – 1914 to 1945) have we come to a situation where education is available for the many. But only for the many, since vast parts of the world remain dirt poor, enslaved and uneducated – as a result of economic interests (utter exploitation and the theft of natural resources etc.).
We are not guided by an invisible hand. But one thing IS true: Nothing is fixed.
Fear – fear for survival as much as the politics of fear [stoked up by priests and kings and leaders and even New Economy CEOs] – makes us all corruptible.
This mixture of delusion and happiness has taken us far as a species. It has made us the dominant life form on the planet and brought us to understand deep down that there is no such thing as good or evil.
These days, conspiracy theories are just for angst-ridden, self-acknowledged losers. Which does not mean that the coincidence of interests can’t have terrible consequences. But the ambivalence of being in and of itself can make things seem right today and wrong tomorrow. This is a problem, because if we take a closer look at history, certain patterns begin to emerge, patterns which always lend themselves to being looked at in a sinister way. Organisational trends can have a gruesome dimension.
A divine plan for the world is impossible, and so is some kind of grand golden concept. Those people badmouthing how things stand, who are usually of advanced years, tend to be nothing more than old farts pining after the good old days of their youth – which were never as good as seem to think.
Wars and peace are, depending on the current situation, always big business. It benefits the few; and it kills the many. A real stride forward would be to start cooperating on a global scale – withOUT weapons.
Such a cooperation would only be possible – other than as a thought experiment – if we were actually able to learn from history. However, this would go against all of the primal instincts that we all still follow, mostly without being aware of it. Fear, envy, greed, anger, but also imagination, would have to be fundamentally questioned and, at least partially, refined. The world of exploitation and oppression would go up in flames. New ideas, which would not necessarily be more palatable, could at least be conceived of.
Things would have to be adapted to the dynamics of ‘the way things are’ and might actually end up being terrible. Democracy, which is a democratic attitude at best, might serve as an illustrative example: Starting out as a good idea, democracy is very capable of being instrumentalised and then flipped into its polar opposite. Germany – but also the US – has a horror story or two to tell about that. Freedom and democracy can all too easily be like beating ploughshares into swords.
Or these concepts need to be clearly defined, subject to regular checks and balances and be continually updated to fit current circumstances. This is one more reason why history education was as good as abolished.
To sum up: Once the rubble was cleared after the last breaking-the-world party and rebuilding had started, in the process filling the already brimming capital batteries even further, it was time to eradicate that other idea – spoiled as it already was: A world based on solidarity.
Also, liberties and democratic values had to be pushed back into the Pandora’s box of the progress-at-all-cost crowd. The mechanisms of capitalism are, after all, much closer to our primitive instincts than acting intelligently, reasonably and circumspectly. The military-industrial complexes were modernised as a result of the world wars and turned out to be the bonanza of our lives. Early-medieval concepts of the market, the drive to profit-generating exploitation and the beat down others to make oneself feel better once again became the political raison d’etre.
So the ideas of a certain Adam Smith (invisible hand, inner judge,…) perfectly fit the bill. Even though these need to be understood within their 18th-century context: Trying to keep absolutism, which was already in decline, alive by inviting the up-and-coming bourgeoisie to the party.
A revolutionary idea at the time, but disastrous with what is left of the nation states terminally ill.
Callously social-Darwinist dunderheads like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman transformed the invisible hand – taken as a religious metaphor in the 18th century – into neo-liberalism.
In doing so, these neo-liberal, sure let’s call them criminals, invoked a mid-19th century tradition of liberalism that was already dead and buried at that time and was thus no longer useful for analysing their contemorary state of affairs (of about 1900 to 1980). But they were awarded a hand full of those noblest of prizes for the mentally confused. Here, too, there have been exceptions that prove the rule (some quite reasonable, actual geniuses have been honoured in this way). Dynamite is as dynamite does. Since 1980, neo-liberalism is now haunting the whole planet.
This crude idea appeals to our most basic of instincts and transports people back into the stone age. But it is no longer just about food, sex and survival, but about who has the biggest yacht, the most possessions and can control entire countries, as well as the domination and influence over others. And then more food and more sex.
And who cares if the world goes up in flames and millions upon millions will meet their fate in the process? The Palaeolithic reloaded.
When mountains explode, it’s not the President who is to blame, many individuals for playing along. And that includes pretty much all of us. Forget about the ‘evil’ one percent. And this playing along is a result of education policy since the 1980s. It was Thatcher, Pinochet, Reagan and Kohl, to name but a few, who took neo-liberalism and introduced it into polite political society. Of course, these political clowns, with the vigorous support of industry lobbyists, saw their opportunity of achieving the greatest lasting effect with the least effort towards destroying those dangerous progressives who advocated solidarity.
Education was cut back, history teaching in primary and secondary schools almost abolished and the rights of minorities and the underprivileged were aggressively attacked.
The way was open for a new form of absolutism: the neo-monarchies of the manipulated markets. The undereducated masses are easily deceived and have no power to demand higher pay.
Because they live in intellectual darkness and general fear, they can be manipulated just as easily as their counterparts of the 7th to 9th century A.D. And they can even be played off against each other, causing them to fuck each other over even more, without the tedious business of actively having to oppress them.
A classic case where the coincidence of interests happens without requiring a grand conspiracy. It is plain for all to see who have the eyes to see it. A tried and tested method of organised criminals for as long as humans have been around.
There is no such thing as the evil individual. There are just interests, and whether these have positive or negative consequences is a matter of the structure or the organisational culture of society and the discourses that it engages in.
But to be able to engage in such Discourses requires education, which is exactly why it, is being turned into a high-priced marketable commodity, instead of being made available to all. No, ignorance is NOT bliss.
As the really-not-funny Nazi movements of recent times are showing, such lethal shenanigans can quickly drag us all into the abyss – and that includes the ‘winners’ of these developments.
The nation state is dead. Whether the proto-fascists, just-nationalists or national-social democrats are willing to face up to that fact or not is irrelevant in the end. The neo-liberal stampede has gone too far; internationalism is a thing.
Even if it comes in a different guise than the anarcho-syndicalists and the far Left were imagining, the current collapse of this both uber-reactionary and humane world bears great promise. But for this to happen, we all, green, conservative, red or even brown will have to make concessions and pick up a history book again.
Unsere Möglichkeiten sind, nach wie vor, grenzenlos, "die Zukunft ist hell [Hell]"-je nach Bildungsgrad und Lesart...
Our options continue to be boundless, “the future is heavenly [or hellisch]” – depending on the degree of education and point of view – and anyone not out of here by then, only has himself to blame. The End.
By the way, I am of the opinion that Trumpism&Co must be destroyed. [M.L.R. Dumb Alec Cato]
[translated by Malte Forstat]
If fear and malice are seen as reasonable, resistance becomes a civic duty.
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