February 4, 2011

Knowledge Distorted by the Masses

This post is essentially going to be a rant/pseudo-criticism of our society in general. Let me start by posing a question: What drives the masses? While there may be no "correct" answer, I'm certainly inclined to respond with "fear", and while I've always known that. It just became painfully apparent to me recently.

How many times have you heard someone just say something along the lines of "We should nuke North Korea!", with the warrant nearly always being a deep fear of them destroying something held dear to them. It does not matter what empirical evidence would typically lead us to believe, fear generally triumphs over logic the vast majority of times.

My question: Why?

At first sight I believe it has something to do with the fact that people think that they actually do have the empirical evidence, usually because someone unqualified to inform them on the situation did so. That seems to be a huge problem with our society, everyone is an expert. And of course, when everyone is an expert, nobody is an expert. The worst thing to be in a society full of experts is an actual expert.

Gilles Deleuze and others make the argument that liberalism needs its subjects to be fearful, so it produces that fear, thus we come to desire our own domination and accept it as an inevitable sacrifice to protect us from the 'evils' of the world. This can be repeatedly seen throughout history, yet no one ever learns. The most notable recently being George Bush's "Patriot Act" followed by the subsequent declaration of the "Axis of Evil".

I'd say it's a safe conclusion that both of those are certainly contributing factors as to why fear dominates logic. It is both perceived as true, and the masses desire it. It's an effective tool to cajole previously unwilling subjects to bend to the whims of a system. This fear mongering and (as a result) inherently xenophobic society hasn't been as much of a threat until lately. With escalating conflicts around the globe and a population yelling "Nuke them!", you have to wonder when the people fueling that fear will give in to the resulting demand.

As I said previously, this was simply a quick rant on a comment I heard today, and I just wanted to get some thoughts out here as this is certainly only the starting point of this conversation. Why does fear triumph logic? What do you think?

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