Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Memory and Machiavelli

There has been much decrying in the anti-war movement of deception and disinformation, accusing the Bush administration of using both tactics to fool the American people into the invasion of Iraq. Little has been said about the shallowness of political debate that allowed the public to be fooled in the first place. On PBS this weekend there was an enlightening interview with Susan Jacoby, author of a new book, “The Age of American Unreason” (Pantheon, 2008), where she makes the point that ignorance underlies the war as much as trickery and deception. In a poll, college and high school-educated respondents were asked to find Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel on a world map. Only 23% of the college-educated under the age of 25 and 6% of high school-educated could find all four, despite the fact that the map they were given was labeled — we are not talking about maps where the countries are left blank.


Ms. Jacoby has taken up the virtuous but frustrating cause of improving public education and striving for an informed electorate. Let’s hope that Barack Obama represents a trend in that direction. The right wing, as represented by Karl Rove, stands for the opposite trend. In their playbook, manipulating the public through fear and capitalizing on ignorance not only works, but is justified because it works. That is, any question of morality and ethics is beside the point, as Machiavelli long ago informed his prince. Ms. Jacoby asserts that lack of historical memory is one of the most serious symptoms of what she calls American unreason. Instead of remembering that Iraq had no suicide bombers until the U.S. invaded, or that the war was entirely unjustified in the first place, the public can be fed a slogan ‘– “the surge is working” — and the past evaporates.
In the Cold War this tactic was known as the Big Lie and was associated with the Soviet Union’s programmatic disinformation, which approached the Orwellian. The right wing is Orwellian enough until something worse comes along. Whole areas of prejudice, bigotry, and mean-minded selfishness have been made respectable and even worthy. Liberalism has been equated with un-Americanism. The entire Muslim world was turned into a pack of vicious, anti-Christian terrorists, and the stripping away of civil liberties was implemented without consulting the people being affected. Without memory, Machiavelli has a much greater chance of succeeding. But ultimately historical memory isn’t enough. What’s needed is for the public to wake up and value alert, intelligent consciousness. We must look beyond our national borders; we must look beyond the present moment. But most of all, we must enlarge the horizon of our minds. Ignorance has proved fatal in the Iraq war, as it did in Vietnam. It will bring new, unforeseen fatalities in the future unless the passive, easily manipulated “folks” that Bush talks down to turn into an active, aware electorate.

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posted February 24, 2008 at 12:12 pm

We are that no matter what issue it is.

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posted March 9, 2008 at 12:50 pm

alert intelligent consciousness. That is a truly reasonable goal. truly the opposite state of mind from ignorance.
Similar, but also unfortunate is a mind alert and intelligent but fed disinformation, and for lack of a better word, brainwashed into a belief that is contrary to fact, or is manipulated to present a truth convenient to the time, and carried forward by popularity to become an assumed fact.
My most influential teacher, Mr. Chuck Jurasz, whale guy, incredible thinker, guru-like following and ‘charisma’, preached to
prove a truth before accepting it as so.
We would spend months ‘proving’ a truth to his satisfaction, only to find that the truths we were ‘proving’ were not necessarily what we were learning, but the process of investigating a reality or assumptive truth.
The “alert intelligent consciousness” is born
Bringing this to relevance at least in the case of this post, where are we to find a reasonably unbiased unvarnished unspun version of truth in the wash of information we’ve access to without any real abilty to ‘truth’ the information short of expensive time consuming travel, interview, etc.?
in a typically socratic state of mind, Mr. Jurasz would have answered….You tell me.

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