On the Nature of Public Opinion

08/12/2014 11:43 GMT | Updated 06/02/2015 10:59 GMT

History has given us a colossal record of deceit, manipulation of the many by a resourceful and shrewd few, and the sustained distortion of public perception so robustly at any one time, it is imperative we review the model of society we have inherited. Power derives its life-force from control. To hinder our perception of what is true and what is false. I contend there to be three main sources of public opinion. The first is formalized religion with its traditions and irrational superstitions. The second is educational institutions, of which the mainstream model arrived in the 1840's, the establishment attempting to monopolize education. The third, and the most effective, is that of the mainstream media, or "the invisible government", as to which Edward Bernayes used to so affectionately refer. In order to liberate ourselves from this conspiracy, we must debunk formalized religion, develop a self-education directed by oneself for oneself, and give leeway to useful dissenting commentators while ensuring the public are enough informed to protect themselves from abuses of power.

Of the first source of public opinion, Monotheism, I wish to address three of its most significant oppressions, illiogicisms, and incivilities. The first is the falsification of the origin of the species and the nature of the cosmos. During the course of his circumnavigation of the globe (1831 - 1836), Mr. Charles Darwin was, in his own words, "a complete disbeliever in Christianity", and self-identified as an agnostic. Believing, as he so did then, and unto the very end of his remarkable life, that there was a complex design in the biosphere, and he was determined to articulate that design with indubitable facts. Modern Catholics give out repeated ventilation that faith is quite compatible with science and medicine, the truth is that they fear losing their power and influence, and have attempted to manipulate this information to suit themselves. The late Gore Vidal, of whom I identify being one of his innumerable disciples, once recommended H. L. Mencken as, "the most influential journalist of his day; he was also the wittiest." An indication of the validity of this claim might be found in Mencken's scathing definition of Faith: "Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."

The second discrepancy I have with Monotheism, is its inherent oppression and silly rejection of the fact that the self is all that can be known to exist. The idea that a merciless designer, a literally patriarchal psycho-path demands complete obedience from everyone for all time, and is in control of the chaos of our universe, is to me indeed childish and backward. All evidence suggests we are not the centre of a universe where everything has been designed for us and our historical ignorance. Many religionists try to claim scientific innovators for their cause. Albert Einstein rebutted this saying: "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

The third discrepancy is the matter of sex. Two undoubtable facts of our species is replication and survival. The idea of the nuclear family unit was conveniently constructed by Monotheists, and now they must confront the underestimated variety and actual nature of our species' sexuality. Naturally, as it were, taboos were invented to maintain power. The regular attempt to minimize these explicit claims never fail to piss one off. Leviticus is still quoted regularly, despite its inherently hateful contents. Woman were and are oppressed and secondary to men, whether at home or in work, and the illogical hatred of same-sex relations was and in some places still shamelessly is, paramount. For a few to maintain power, there must be despotic prohibitions. Sexual taboo is a perfect fit, because we are all sexual beings. To oppress someone to ones own advantage because of their private sex life is hideously useful. No holy book, however, can contradict the sexual reality of our species. It was Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of The United States of America, when word got out of his rejection of Monotheism, cleverly re-promoted himself as a deist to save face. His invective against Monotheism remains, as once he said: "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man . . . perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind . . . a mere contrivance (for the clergy) to filch wealth and power to themselves."

The second source of public opinion, is the modern educational model of public schooling. It is where so much of our understanding of society and culture comes from. An indoctrination of sorts. To teach is a most honourable trade, and an under-rated profession. One must also promote the idea that teachers themselves be constantly self-educating. Great teachers are rare, and they usually put the creative development of the individual over the competitive squabbling for points. Education is not a Sport. A true teacher is one who endeavors to tell the truth about our history and the nature of our culture and species no matter how uncomfortable it might well be.

Our educational model is a memory based system of point scoring and competition. In every public educational system of which we know, we see the same hierarchy of subjects; mathematics, economics, business, and languages at the top crust, then one has the humanities, then one has the trades, and trailing at the bottom is the arts. Jobs being the function of our economic model mean the arts are condescended upon as being inefficient in job production. A total disregard for the development of the individual mind. Ones memory alone and ones performance in ridiculous memory examinations are the cache for intelligence in our society. Knowing how to evaluate, interpret, and understand is secondary to memory performance and points ratings. Passing tests is lamp in comparison with searching and inquiring and pursuing topics that stimulate and bewonder the mind. This system is a product of the age of Industrialism, and also a system of madness and waste.

Recently, at The Web Summit in Dublin, I seen speak one of Ireland's leading thinkers, and a thoroughly decent and inimitable man, Mr. David McWilliams, whom discussed this. Mr. McWilliams once wrote,"The education system as currently devised - with its rote learning, old-fashioned academic, grind-based reward system - terrorizes many hundreds of thousands of children, scarring them with stigmas and insecurities which they carry with them for life. Because of the nature of our education system, there are hundreds of thousands of brilliant people walking around today who believe that they are not brilliant."

The third source of public opinion is, of course, the media. Edmund Burke once famously depicted the role of the press as a Fourth Estate checking the powerful. Power hates journalists that do their job, rock the boat, expose real and justifiable scandals. We need information to protect ourselves and each other from abuses of power. A study on Ireland's media coverage of austerity between 2008 and 2012 recently, is a fine example, and it is damning, labeling Irish media as "relentless cheer-leaders of austerity". The suggestion of economic stimulus became totally taboo as "only 2% of articles suggested increasing government spending." A shocking figure considering that it was "the main progressive alternative to austerity". Elites also dominated the discourse: as "77% of commentators came from elite political or economic institutions". How this compares with other European countries I am less familiar. One might note, that in his introduction to Animal Farm, George Orwell described censorship in free societies as being more sophisticated than dictatorships where unpopular ideas may be silenced and inconvenient facts kept dark, without any need for an official ban. Every day is a war of information.

Established power is comfortable because so many journalists, broadcasters, historians, and educators regurgitate what governments tell them to. Every time this reality is presented them, they kick up a mephitic stink. Yet it remains true. If we are to reform our current model, or indeed construct a new one altogether, I suggest we rip apart superstition, examine traditions, suspect our own motives and own up to our delusions, and abandon our excuses. Promote the great idea that self-education is the point of education, and that it is necessary for freedom and democracy, those two well-peddled terms. We must each all of us also promote and protect free speech and whistle-blowers. We must, we really must, reconstruct our current model of society. We must not only change public opinion as it is, but the way in which it is established.