by Jon Rappoport
March 7, 2018
“…intellectual freedom is a deep-rooted tradition without which our characteristic western culture could only doubtfully exist. From that tradition many of our intellectuals are visibly turning away. They have accepted the principle that a book should be published or suppressed, praised or damned, not on its merits but according to political expediency. And others who do not actually hold this view assent to it from sheer cowardice.” (George Orwell, 1953)
When those who control public discourse, in a nation, see that they are losing to upstarts, that their flimsy ideas are being supplanted by much stronger ideas from these newcomers (who are actually traditionalists), the shocked controllers turn to the more direct strategy of censorship.
In terms of substance, and even popularity, the ministers of truth are losing; so they abandon reasoned discourse altogether. They desert this fertile, competitive, and NECESSARY territory. They no longer debate. They ban.
Among their supporters are crowds of illiterates.
There are many people who, because their education was a vaporous thing, have no interest in the written or spoken word.
The reason is obvious: they can’t read.
Their natural impulse is to make excuses. “Who needs books?” “People who write books are showing their privilege.”
For these excuse-makers, book burning would mean NOTHING. All that matters is: what slogans should I shout?
For the illiterate, a book is a mystery. How could anyone put all the words together and write one? Somehow, the author must have a secret method of downloading the book from an elite source, a cloud, a machine, a trick in their DNA.
A book, a report, an article, a study, an essay—millions of people in “advanced societies” don’t have a clue. When censorship tightens, who cares? It’s just words.
IT’S JUST WORDS.
Long ago, when I taught school, I had an experience I wish many people could share. Twenty children in a 10th-grade classroom. No student was reading up to that grade level. Each student was reading at a DIFFERENT (sub-standard) level. Time to teach reading. How could it be done? It couldn’t.
Elite societal players welcome illiteracy. They love it. It’s one of their cherished goals. Ignorance is good. More than that, illiterate people are easy to convince that repressive censorship isn’t a problem. It’s just something that “happens.”
If you don’t have “the right ideas,” you should be censored.
IT’S JUST WORDS.
Words are useless “things” like tacks and marbles and crayons and paper clips. Who cares?
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten.” (George Orwell, “1984”)
At its root, illiteracy becomes a form of reductionism. What can be comprehended, discussed, debated, or reasoned shrinks.
IT’S JUST WORDS.
Illiteracy is more effective than political correctness. Untold numbers of people can’t understand the sentences that are floating and flying by them every day. They register this by building up anger. Unfocused anger. They are perfect fodder for know-nothing social and political movements that requite violence and repression. After all, they were repressed, weren’t they? Weren’t they left hanging out in the wind by their education, their schooling? Now is the time for revenge.
Along the way, censorship becomes a very good thing. They were limited in what they learned; therefore, limit everyone else. Why not?
IT’S JUST WORDS.
There is a sub-text percolating in many, many schools: “All right, you students, this is your education. We’re going to keep you from learning the language. We’re going to hold it back from you. At the same time, we’re going to praise you and push you ahead from grade to grade. You’ll know something is wrong. But you’ll accept what we do to you. It’s easier. You’ll take a ride through school, and then we’ll dump you out into the world. We’re making rebels wholesale. Ignorant rebels. Rebels without the tools for THINKING. You’ll have to find a place where thinking isn’t important. Good luck. Here’s a suggestion. Find a group where all you have to do is yell and throw rocks. Learn what to yell. Demand your right to get EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING. That is all.”
Do you want a piece of interesting news? I can offer it, based on my experience of the past 17 years writing online. The declining system of education creates a vacuum. And into that vacuum, writers who do value language step forward, and they do present actual ideas. This is a large vacuum, so it can accommodate many writers.
They are creating new realities.
And readers show up.
Miracle of miracles.
These writers and readers are the “replacement team.” They are standing in for the colleges and universities and the sloganeers.
They are not censoring themselves or anyone else.
They are proliferating language, not reducing it.
Here is the secret: the history of humans reveals that language does, in fact, expand. It doesn’t lie down and die. It doesn’t wait for know-nothings to catch up. It doesn’t wait for anyone. Poets and novelists and playwrights and essayists find and invent new branches of word and thought.
Their present is the future. They are making the future every day.
And as far as pure ideas go, no matter how hard some people have tried, Jefferson and Madison and Tom Paine and John Adams are not dead yet. Their shaped principles embedded in sentences live on.
If at some point, the entire population of the planet were illiterate, except for four writers, those four would invent a new ocean that can’t be contained—and somehow, readers would show up.
Perhaps you think I’m describing a kind of magic, and maybe I am, but I’m also giving you ironclad fact. It has always been so.
The Internet may have been invented with machine language, but the writers who have appeared on it are multiplying their own language.
They are outdistancing the machine.
They always will.