Saturday 21 August 2010

On the Dangers of People Thinking

The newly-breaking item that Lord Ashcroft hasn’t resigned his position with the Tories and might, in fact, end up with greater power just shows how eager political parties everywhere are to grab at the money, no matter whether it might be seen as tainted or not.
We like to think of our politicians as idealistic souls, in public service to serve the public, as they all claim. While some are doubtless pure, so many seem to end up gorging themselves at the trough of power (remember the Republicans taking over Congress in ’94 under New Gingrich and promising to only be around for 4 years? How many are still there? Gingrich himself is reportedly planning a 2012 Presidential bid).
The truth is that the parties want power, no matter what the cost. Was New Labour something heartfelt, or was positioning itself more in the centre a reaction after seeing the success Bill Clinton and the Democrats achieved by that strategy?
For all that politicians give us the refrain of transparency it’s not going to happen. Anywhere. Why? It’s not in their interests because it means they actually have less power. And it’s that drive for power that keeps so many of them going, at least at the higher levels.
A highly informed and educated electorate would demand more transparency. But that kind of education works not only against the ultimate interests of politicians, but also against the interests of most of the media. Educated people, taught to think for themselves, would see through all the awkward deceptions put out by politicians and the media empires that love to slant the news (and for all the talk of a liberal media, how come the biggest-selling papers are very much to the right of the spectrum?).
It might well be true that most people don’t want to think, that they’re as happy to be led as a flock of sheep. How else do we account for the popularity of awful TV shows, for instance? But then again, no real attempt has been made to truly educate them. To have a mass that will follow serves political aims well – witness the tea baggers, for instance, or those 20 per cent of Americans who think Obama is a Muslim.
It takes effort to think and maybe people don’t care enough. But maybe if we instilled the idea of thinking in them from an early age that might change. Then again, a mass of thinking people, all realising how broken the system truly is, could be a very dangerous thing…fortunes might be lost and the entire political structure altered.

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