Intellectual Self Defence

Brains are delicate things…


On the need for intellectual self-defence
“For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination.” Noam Chomsky (Chomsky Reader, page 136)

The twentieth century [was] characterised by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
Alex Carey Taking the Risk Out of Democracy

The definition of alternatives is the supreme instrument of power E.E. Schattschneider

Words that should possess a depth and breadth of allusions- words like socialism, communism, democracy, collectivism- are stripped of their historical roots, the many faces of the struggles for social justice and independence reduced to an ambition to dominate the world…
Adrienne Rich, Notes toward a Politics of Location page 221

Max Weber famously contrasted the use of words as ‘swords against the enemies’ with their quite different employment as ‘ploughshares to loosen the soil of contemplative thought’… [from his essay Science as a Vocation]
Justin Rosenberg The Follies of Globalisation Theory page 45

They make the laws to chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship the god they serve
The god of greed
Who feeds the rich while poor folk starve

Leon Rosselson, The World Turned Upside Down

On the bias in our brains
“Unless we are aware of our tendency to act irrationally in certain situations, then we will continue to act irrationally.” Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational

On human stupidity
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Albert Einstein

“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.” Friedrich von Schiller

On science
“Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves.” Robert Feynman

On the need to keep sane, not drink the Kool Aid
The temptation will always be to sink to their level, to ingest the insanity because of the false promises of power that it holds out. That is precisely what the insanity wants, and that is precisely the way in which the crazy people got crazy in the first place. The road to sanity is not through insanity, much less through violence. The cause of sanity may call on us to be forceful in a moral sense, saying NO when we are assaulted with the corruption of our language. But fundamentally it calls on us to heal ourselves,to rid the disinformation and doubletalk from our minds, to spread rational analysis and plain language to the people who need it, to reconnect with the source of all sanity that lies beyond us, to rebuild the conditions of democracy, and to let go of the need to fix it all by ourselves, or else to give up.
Phil Agre, Red Rock Eater Digest

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