Against the Dictatorship of Ignorance

Henry Giroux:

As the public’s grip on civic literacy weakens, language is emptied of any substantive meaning and the shared standards necessary for developing informed judgments and sustained convictions are undermined. At the same time, those institutions dedicated to producing critical knowledge and informed citizens are under attack and are slowing disappearing.…

I am not talking about the kind of anti-intellectualism that has a long history in the United States. I am pointing to a more lethal form of ignorance fueled by a manufactured type of illiteracy that is often ignored. What I am referring to is a mode of illiteracy that is both a scourge and a political tool power designed primarily to make war on language, meaning, thinking, and the capacity for critical thought.…

More profoundly, illiteracy is about what it means not to be able to act from a position of thoughtfulness, informed judgment and critical agency.

In this instance, manufactured illiteracy has become a form of political repression that discourages a culture of questioning, renders agency inoperable as an act of intervention, and restages power as a mode of domination. Illiteracy serves to depoliticize people because it reproduces conditions that make it difficult for individuals to develop informed judgments, analyze complex relationships and draw upon a range of sources to understand how power works and how they might be able to shape the forces that bear down on their lives.

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