We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Gallup Poll Shows Americans Prefer Terrorist Nations Over Iran. Why?
What I think is most useful about this essay is that Zuesse by using the results of an opinion poll offers an excellent illustration of the influence of corporate media to distort the minds of ordinary Americans. The poll finding shows that Americans fear Iran as a prime terrorist nation. I have encountered this phenomenon personally and it has baffled me.
What I fault Zuesse for in this piece is when he provides a key bit of evidence about a bookkeeper and quotes this person extensively, but without naming him or providing any linked reference to a source! I had to spend about 20 minutes looking for such a document and found it here. I suppose that people often write pieces for online publication in haste and don't always find the time to research them properly, but I think this mistake is quite improper.
Putting this criticism aside, I think his main point is very well taken. Americans simply cannot trust corporate media, but they still turn to it for information and opinion. This begs the question why. Corporate media have a long record of lying to Americans, but in spite of this most Americans continue to be easily influenced in believing their lies. There are more obvious reasons such as the time required to search out accurate information is prohibitive, that these lies are so ubiquitously spread by corporate media that it is hard to dismiss them, and there are so many distractions offered by our capitalist masters that most Americans are simply diverted away from accurate sources. But, I would like to speculate on another reason: the infantilization of Americans.
We Americans generally have no authentic sense of our history. We have been indoctrinated with a fake history which supports allegiance to the ruling capitalist class and all of its many authorities. As we grow up physically, our loyal obedience to our parents is transferred onto these authorities. We are never taught to think critically. We have had little exposure to the scientific method of inquiry or research in spite of the fact that it has created all the technology that we enjoy daily. (Science, like everything else of value, was also captured by our ruling capitalist class and has delivered to them so much wealth and power.) Instead we are conditioned to look to authorities for what is to be believed. At the same time we are also thoroughly indoctrinated in capitalism's extreme individualism to focus only on our own needs or our family's. This kind of perspective is very characteristic of a young child who views the world only as a means to satisfy his/her needs.