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What kind of society do we seek?

haines“The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people,” wrote Tom Clancy. As we enter the Age of Information, that elitist control is likely to manifest itself as a denial-of-access to a complete education for any but the privileged.

It has been suggested the degree to which people gravitate toward conservatism is dependent upon having something to conserve. Social conservatives seek to conserve traditional values and moral order. Fiscal conservatives primarily seek to conserve their wealth. Simple observation informs us that the privileged enjoy their status as elites and will seek, first and foremost, to preserve their station in life.

Granted, social order is essential to a healthy community, except when the effort to control personal choices leads to intolerance for alternatives. Private property is an essential aspect of our modern world, but unbridled capitalism abandons too many citizens to subsistence at the margins of society.

The hoarders of immense wealth have become the 21st Century equivalent of feudal lords bequeathing power to chosen heirs while transgressing against Frederick Lewis Donaldson’s first of seven social sins: “wealth without work.” Maintaining the luxuries associated with superfluous wealth leads to the rest of the sins on that list and culminates in: “politics without principle.”

Look at where we find ourselves today. We continue to evolve toward a government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations.

In his “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” Paulo Freire observed while oppressors seldom perceive themselves as oppressors, it must be noted that furnishing a truly liberating pedagogy for the masses would fail to serve the interest of maintaining an oppressive status quo.

Unregulated capitalists have no interest at all in our children making wise, well-informed choices, as that would end mass incarceration and for-profit-prisons. The purveyors of sugared dietary fare care little about the potential health consequences of poor nutritional choices, nor do the pharmaceutical kingpins that manufacture artificial insulin. Inadequate compensation feeds the credit industry with lifelong debtors.

The achievement of minimal literacy and numeracy must never suffice as social justice for children. As long as children of the socio-economically challenged are permitted to attend inadequately-staffed, under-resourced schools, our progress toward an egalitarian society will be stifled.

It is difficult to predict where such shortsightedness might lead. So, we must take heed of this counsel from Frederick Douglass who wrote, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

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