The Dumbing Down Of America- A Propagandists Dream

The dumber you are, the more easier it is to control you.

America the Illiterate

By Chris Hedges

November 16, 2008 “Truthdig” — – We live in two Americas. One

America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate

world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools

to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which

constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief

system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated

 images for information, has severed itself from the literate,

print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and

 truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and

clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance

 and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or

gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever,

red state or blue state, has split the country into radically

distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom

hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50

million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third

 of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And

their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But

even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers

 into this image-based existence. A third of high school

graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never

 read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the

 families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so

without the ability to make decisions based on textual

information. American political campaigns, which have learned

to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real

ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal

 narratives. Political propaganda now masquerades as

ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience. They

do not require cognitive or self-critical skills. They are designed

to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment

and collective salvation. Campaigns that succeed are carefully

 constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle

 public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are

 subliminal. They create a public ecstasy that annuls individuality

and fosters a state of mindlessness. They thrust us into an

eternal present. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state

of permanent amnesia. It is style and story, not content or history

 or reality, which inform our politics and our lives. We prefer

 happy illusions. And it works because so much of the

American electorate, including those who should know

better, blindly cast ballots for slogans, smiles, the cheerful family

tableaux, narratives and the perceived sincerity and the

attractiveness of candidates. We confuse how we feel

 with knowledge.

Full Article –


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