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The New Dark Ages

I’ve been noticing a lot of similarities in some recent news and some not-so-recent history. The dark ages were a fun time: ignorance, poverty, disease, and war were the norm. A powerful christian government work hard to maintain ignorance, as literacy and rational thought were considered to be major threats to the mindless dogma preached by the church. By keeping the masses ignorant, the church was able to maintain power, and use war as a tool to continue that power. Poverty and disease are natural elements in an ignorant, uneducated population, and also served to reinforce the church’s stance (if you were poor, it must mean that god doesn’t like you,so you must have done something bad). A random walk through some of today’s news events shows a remarkable similarity.

Ignorance. The dark ages were rife with ignorance, superstition, and church doctrine. The general populace was not only discouraged from learning to read, but in many cases, it was illegal for them to know how to read. The dominant government (the christian church) decided what was fact, and what was acceptable for the peons to know. The idea was that all law came from the bible. Of course, if the peons could read, they would be able to figure out that most of what was being taught as church doctrine had nothing to do with the bible, so reading was reserved to the “right-thinkers” in the church. This was also a method of ensuring that the church maintained its position of authority – science and critical thinking would erode the church’s “we talk to god, so we know the truth” dogma, so the church did its best to keep people ignorant (this is the same church that threw Galileo in prison, and refused to admit that the Earth rotates around the sun until late in the 20th century). The church as an entity had an official policy of maintaining the ignorance of the populace. Among other things, it made it impossible to do any sort of business without church involvement (and taxation) – the church was the only agency that was allowed to write, so things like keeping track of shipping, sales, and land records was wholly under the control of the church. This provided a handy revenue stream to support wars against those pesky foreigners and heathens that didn’t buy into the church myth.

In the modern world, the church has much less official power – we even pretend in the USA that the church is just another social group. But if we take a look at what is going on, we can find “christian influence” (read: ‘christian ignorance’) in many places. One of the scariest is the influence that the church continues to have on education. While most of the first world laments the fact their children are not keeping up with upstart developing nations educationally, the church is working to continue to stifle knowledge and free thought. With amazing effectiveness. Depending on the surveys, as much as 30-60% of the people in industrialized nations continue to believe that creationism is as scientifically valid as evolution. The majority of people freely admit that most technology and science is little more than magic to them – it is simply beyond their understanding. Of course, in places like India and China, it is very common to find people who not only understand technology and science, but are using it to displace the “industrialized world” as the leaders of new technological developments. The first worlddoes still have the major educational institutions, but a visit to any hard science or engineering graduate program will make it clear that most of the students there are from second or third world nations. A review of the scientific and engineering primary literature shows the same thing. Take a look at journals from 40 years ago, and the vast majority of authors will have anglo-european names. Take a cruise through the journals today, and most of the names are asian, indian, or middle eastern.

Of course, the Dark Ages did end. The church was finally overthrown by internal divisions, and by the influence of educated free thinkers from other cultures – most notably Asia, India and the Middle East. In the modern world, we are faced with many dangers – a much hyped example is the militant extremists from the muslim left that kill a few people every day. A much more insidious danger is the creeping ignorance and denial of science that is so strongly supported by the christian church. So next time the bible-thumpers are at your local library or school board lobbying to get Harry Potter pulled off the shelves (it has witchcraft in it, and the bible says that witchcraft is bad), don’t just sit by and assume that rational thinkers will simply ignore them. Show up, and speak out. Make sure they know that we recognize their idiocy, and that we won’t tolerate it. When you hear or read about a school district that is buckling to the local moral minority, and is pulling evolution and science from their curriculum, go to the school board meetings and make some noise. At the very least, go read some history, and decide if you really want to live through another round of ignorance driven dark ages. We can hope that the developing world will save us from our own apathy and ignorance, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could do it ourselves?

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5 Responses

  1. “Show up, and speak out. Make sure they know that we recognize their idiocy, and that we won’t tolerate it.”

    THIS is what I want to see more of. I feel like far too many smart people are just standing by watching the crazies run rampant, and it scares me. Every time *I* try to speak out, I’m set upon by angry (read; frightened) neo-conservatives who dismiss me as a bubble-headed liberal. It’s discouraging.

  2. The corrupting world wide, private enterprise, of the “Narcotics Trade, the “Prostitution Rings,” the corrupting influence of government politicians, on the take, being bought off, and treated like a valuable commodity, by the “Merchants of world wide “Private Capital.” These “Free enterprise merchants of death, that starts world wars, so that they can make “Blood Money” on the backs of the ordinary citizen soldiers.
This powerful capitalist oligarchy, that has power that is all consuming and is of global proportion, dwarfs our government, and every government on the planet. This insidious, global private sector, causes more damage, then governments, because it has bought off most of the politicians and corrupted them, and infiltrated governments on the entire planet. It is this conglomeration of world wide capitalist rule, that rules the people of the world, with an iron hand.
    
Those that are a part of our PRIVATE SECTOR, …for the sake of making a profit, has and had, … made a “Pact, With The Devil,” …and the “PUBLIC BE DAMNED!”
    By pretending that the “GOVERNMENT is the ENEMY,” those that can’t see too well, are distracted from the real enemy, and that enemy is the global oligarchy, of “Capitalist Blood Suckers,” that are intent on continuing their bloody war, on the average, ordinary citizen.
    These criminal, PRIVATE ENTERPRISE, world wide syndicates, are fighting this criminal murderous war, all over our capitalist planet.
    Only a planned “Socialist Economy,” can rid our planet of the corrupting influence of the private enterprise of criminal gang activity, that is organized to compete, kill, rape, and murder, …for profit and power!

    http://despicable.wordpress.com/

  3. Despicable:
    interesting rant. definitely rates up there on the rant scale. Pretty near the top at that. A bit weak on content though. From what I gather, you’re opposed to capitalism, and prefer socialism? Care to expound?

  4. Their has never been a communist society, and if a communist society existed, the state apparatus would have withered away and you would have an administration of things not an administration of people. Obviously the conditions for the state to exercise power is present under the system of socialism and under the system of capitalism.
    The economy that exists inside a capitalist and socialist society can be characterized as being that of a “Market Economy!” and that of a “Planned Economy!”
    A “Market Economy” is designed to enrich the competing capitalists and to give prestige and power to the most successful for market share!
    It is a “Top Down” system where the most successful competitors rule the market place and attempt to buy off all opposition.
    Under a “Socialist Planned Economy” their exists not competition for market share, but “Cooperation” for the sharing of what is produced, with the entire society. Much of what was attempted failed in the former Soviet Union because the conditions and resources that would make this possible were not yet present in a powerful capitalist dominated world.
    Under the old “Soviet Union” and under the capitalism of the USA and elsewhere, you have and had similar government rule that was for the most part pragmatic in their approach to governing their respective societies.
    The amount of constitutional free speech and association and guaranteed rights under every and any government apparatus is contingent on the existing internal conditions. Every nations distinct history, culture, religion and psychological nature has everything to do with how the people under the stress of conflict and necessary change will conduct themselves.
    To say that a socialist or a capitalist government will act in a different way to insure the preservation or extension of their particular economic system, is false. The history of conflict between opposing classes and nations have been for the most part, PRAGMATIC!
    “Fascism,” is the dictatorship of the CAPITALIST CLASS!” “Socialism” is the dictatorship of the WORKING CLASS! ….“Democracy is possible under both Capitalism and Socialism when the conditions of revolution, rebellion, martial law, insurrection, and counter revolution, are not threatening the status quo of Capitalism and Socialism.
    http://despicable.wordpress.com/

  5. OK, i think I can agree that there has never been a true socialist, capitalist, or communist society (at least one that survived for more than a generation). I can also agree that the “compromised ideals” of each of these models that HAVE formed, survived, and eventually failed all have their pros and cons (I put all of the major current governments in rising or falling – I have yet to see one in equilibrium).

    The real bitch is that no matter what system a country chooses, there will always be some level of compromise required. Some of the population will be satisfied with compromise (as exhibited by their willingness to remain in the country), others will not (as exhibited by their leaving the country, or becoming revolutionaries). The goal of governments is to keep the general populace either completely subjugated, or to convince them that the current system isn’t perfect, but is the best there is. Most governments use a combination of the two. Doesn’t matter if they are socialist, communist, capitalist or whatever. The mechanism makes very little difference to the “regular people”. Those in power will have the majority of the benefits, those not in power will have less.

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