The Death of American Debate

Joined: 2006-10-14
User is offlineOffline
The Death of American Debate

[i]When people swallow every pill touted by their political party, they have ceased to be rational beings and have become cult members.[/i]

The individual makes history. The independents faculty of reason has been the mover and shaker, the leader of armies, inventor of machines, calculator of worlds and stars. Humanity is a social organism susceptible to pack-mentality, but individual thought is a triumph over that general tendency.

Is it a surprise, then, that history's spectrum of despotisms has toiled hard to suppress the individual? Sometimes this suppression is done with tanks, as the thousands of pro-democracy advocates in Tiananmen Square discovered to their horror on the night of June 3-4, 1989. Other times it is more insidious. Propaganda is in the long-run deadlier than bullets, because it creates no martyrs.

America's foundation is built of three underused words: We the People. They are perhaps the most powerful words ever uttered by a civilization, yet tremendous responsibility goes along with them. The People was meant to be a gathering of freethinking individuals who valued their liberty, who remembered their history, and who worked together to elect the officials who would protect their freedoms and country. But an uneducated, unthinking people a people who have allowed partisan brainwashing to replaced freethinking becomes that gross perversion of democracy: the lynch mob. Easily led, manipulated, imprisoned.

And partisan brainwashing is precisely what the American population is suffering at the hands of its current political scene.

In America, issues and ideas are instantly polarized into Right and Left camps with no room or stomach for those who do not fit into the neat boxes ascribed. Cards are virtually handed out for easy access to stilted political brotherhoods so-called liberals and conservatives alike. And the public is tagged, herded, penned in, and told which way to march to the slaughterhouse of free thinking and independent ideas.

They call it partisanship; in reality, it is the most insidious form of brainwashing in history... perpetrated (though hardly invented) by Karl Rovian politics. And its ironic... in a world defined by technologies such as mass media and the Internet, it would seem that more perspectives should be coming to our attention, not less.

This is one of the great oddities of the 21st century. Diversity of opinion seems unwelcome on today's political stage, and limitless views are filtered through a rapidly diminishing media hub that chops, edits, and repackages multiple perspectives into the appearance of true philosophy. Modern debates have spiraled into block-headed ramming contests between blue and red corners. Loaded questions and intellectual dishonesty are the standards of pundits who rule the airwaves, and their disciples line up like cult members at a Kool-Aid party.

Both major parties are responsible, but the polarization of America has unquestionably been encouraged under the current regime. Cowardly and hypocritical, we see:

* the Foley scandal blamed on Democrats instead of focusing on the issue of pedophilia
* the brickworks of a surveillance police-state championed because Bush is in charge... but what will these same people say if Hillary Clinton is elected, and has this kind if power at her disposal?
* the same Republicans who prevented many of Bill Clinton's judicial nominees from getting an up-or-down vote then crying foul for the Democrats filibustering a mere handful of Bush's nominees.

Real, honest, freethinking debate is impossible when people are trained to look for Party Tags first. Where is the integrity when the central issues are slimily avoided, because of one's political allegiance? For the record, I want no entity to possess the right to strip me of Constitutional freedoms, whether it's the Bushes, Clintons, PETA, or any theology from the Asatru to Zorastrianism and everything in between. And if you claim that all judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote, then integrity demands you don't change your tune when your political rivals are at bat.

When people swallow every pill touted by their political party, they have ceased to be rational beings and have become cult members. This isn't necessarily a new thing. Certainly since before recorded history there's been an Us-Against-Them tendency to human thinking. But one of the strengths of the Classical Age was its rampant plurality. In ancient China too we saw the Age of the Hundred Schools of Thought.

Today we're losing the art of debate, and finding it replaced by the poisonous substitute of partisan brainwashing. Our ideas have already been categorized for us, the Cliffs Notes, ready-mix, TV-dinner method for the busy everyman. Indeed, the very language of politics spites freedom of thought. "Let's look at both sides of the issue" blissfully ignores the fact that there are numerous angles in any debate.

So much for a Hundred Schools of Thought. So much for even ten.

Take the eternal debate over war. A freethinker can express what today is a bizarre and unthinkable heresy: I supported the war in Afghanistan but opposed the war in Iraq, although I supported it in 1991. And a big thumbs-up to Allied involvement in World War II but a thumbs-down to the war in Vietnam!

The sad truth is that with every passing day, fewer people remember they are capable of thinking outside the box. They argue by regurgitating the exact phraseology that appears on the TV stations of their chosen priesthood. And their modern political ideologues aren't interested in discussion. They want disciples who will echo them perfectly. . . cloning accomplished without genetic tampering. Flip-flopper, activist judge, moral certainty. . . like the thumping of a woodpecker, we hear these things from every pundits mouth until, like zombies, its being repeated by the everyman on the street.

Once you've got a population reduced to two quibbling camps, dreams of despotism whether it's theocratic, socialist, fascist, or plutocratic can be steamrolled into every individual's life, like the Hindu god Juggernaut pulled through the streets to pulverize every citizen in its way. Like the Tiananmen tanks.

Too many people are being trained to flock to platitudes without taking the time to read below the headlines. There are atheist Republicans and pro-death penalty Democrats. There are more than two parties; indeed, there are numerous factions within the seams of dominant parties. But the stubborn trend of extremist voices filling the airwaves and hallways is, while certainly free speech, particularly ignorant and irresponsible speech. The world really isn't black and white; its infinite shades of grey, and every issue needs to be examined on its own merits with independent thinkers learning the facts and taking a stance, political parties be damned.

But thinking is not what the partisans want for the American population. They seek an unquestioning multitude. They seek the obedience of blinded eyes and heads pressed to the earth.

Shame on us if we comply.

Brian Trent

Zhwazi's picture
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
Republicans and Democrats

Republicans and Democrats are the names of the two wings of INGSOC. Oldthinkers unbellyfeel INGSOC. Oldthink is crimethink.