May 23, 2010

The Citizen-Philosopher

"Our quest for truth is an endless task, but we must distinguish that clearly from the quest for certainty. . . We want to find truth, but we never are sure whether we have really found it." - Karl Popper in May 1993, speaking to his former student and Professor Dimitris Dimitrakos on Greek television in Delphi, Greece.
In an age of grand political deceptions, media brainwashing, and dumbed-down education, the importance of questioning the claims made by the agents of power has never been greater. But it also has never been more difficult. In his article "Knowledge, Truth and Human Action: America Hits the Wall," John Kozy writes "Americans have a problem with the truth." And indeed they do, but who can blame them? The propaganda streaming out daily from the National Security State, the corporate cable channels, and almost every national newspaper in the country is a gigantic political weapon, used as a check against free thinking. It is hard to develop and sustain any clear analysis of reality when one is kept perpetually in the dark about certain information and facts. The lie that Al Qaeda struck America on 9/11 would've been immediately countered if there was anything akin to a free press in the United States. But sadly, there is none. Post-9/11, the most trusted man in America is arguably radio show host Alex Jones.

But media propaganda is not the only reason why the truth about 9/11 is not more widely accepted in the U.S. population. Propaganda doesn't explain why people are so resistant to certain facts even when they are presented in a rational manner. There are psychological, and even biological explanations. "The source of the denial and resistance," writes Ken Jenkins in his article, The Truth is Not Enough: How to Overcome Emotional Barriers to 9/11 Truth, "is FEAR." At bottom, it is the fear of death that keeps people from finding out about the real threat posed to human civilization by psychopaths in power, and the loosed demons of modern society, who are best exemplified by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Jenkins goes on to write in the article:
Given that a part of our government's job description is keeping its citizens safe, it's terrifying to consider that a secret rogue part of our government will do just the opposite -- mass murder those very citizens, in order to advance dark agendas -- like wars for corporate empire. To further consider that associated 'secret teams' would then put out corporate media cover-up stories, in the form of an elaborate fantasy story backed up with planted evidence, and to think that story was nearly universally accepted without question -- this is the stuff of nightmares.
Facing the dark side, as Cheney said America must do (but in a different context), is, like it or not, the best advice given by any modern U.S. political leader. The people of America, and by extension, the people of the world, must face the dark side and confront the evil truths about the American political system, and the psychopathic personalities who currently wield power over it.

Finding out the truth is not a choice we have, but a duty we must commit ourselves to. It is unlikely, however, that we will ever come into possession of the full truth about the crimes that have been committed in America's name. Journalists H.P. Albarelli Jr. and Jeffrey Kaye explain why in their latest article "Cries From the Past: Torture's Ugly Echoes":
Like a modern day Ministry of Truth, U.S. government agencies and their partners are busy trying to erase the evidence of their crimes, whether from sixty years ago, or six.
Tragically, more crimes are being committed as they're erased. The legacy of the Bush administration is still fully intact in summer 2010. Not a single page has been turned; not one finger raised. In fact, the opposite has occurred under the Obama' administration. Obama and company have actively suppressed certain truths about torture, 9/11, and other crimes against humanity, and also, they have engaged in such crimes themselves on a repeated basis. As Arthur Silber wrote in his May 2009 article "Barack Obama, Murderer and War Criminal-in-Chief":
We can now see unequivocally and in full, bloody daylight the nature of the "change" that Obama has brought to the operations of Empire. Obama will alter nothing in those operations, except to expand them and make them still more murderous. But because Obama has been heralded as the exponent of "hope" and "change," and because the majority of Americans exhibit an endless capacity for crediting the most meaningless of slogans, many people will continue to struggle to convince themselves that somehow things might have been worse had he not been elected.
One of the most horrid Obama appointees is Cass Sunstein, who is in charge of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In a paper he co-write with another criminal basterd he called for "cognitive infiltration" by government agents into political groups and blogs that espouse views that are not reflective of the status quo. I wrote about Sunstein's paper and views back in January in an article called "Obama Info Czar Declares War on Free Thought":
Cass Sunstein, who is the head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration, and is considered as ""the nation's most-cited legal scholar," has officially labeled a wide majority of the American population as 'kooks,' whose mental capacities are insufficiently dangerous, and who require government assistance to see reality "objectively" through "cognitive infiltration." In a paper called "Conspiracy Theories," published in 2008 by the University of Chicago and Harvard University, and which can be viewed here, Sunstein and co-author Adrian Vermeule promote the idea that the US government should actively penetrate groups who voice conspiracy theories about current and past historical events, most famously about the attacks on 9/11, and effectively destabilize their political discussion and potential political activities.
In that article I tried to understand why a lot of people can not stop believing in the the official 9/11 conspiracy theory:
Psychologist Gregory W. Lester explains why human beings have a hard time accepting new realities in any field, whether religion or politics, in a famous article called "Why Bad Beliefs Don't Die." Lester writes that "the biological purpose of beliefs can help skeptics to be far more effective in challenging irrational beliefs and communicating scientific conclusions." When it comes to new conclusions about reality, Lester argues, nothing less than survival is at stake. Beliefs ranging from the insecurity of the outside world to the integrity of public officials play a crucial role in ensuring our survival, and new information that should dispel these worn out beliefs are not unable to because beliefs take a long while to process data that goes against its most basic assumptions, which have developed in cultures over generations. Those of us who question authority are surprised why long-held beliefs are incredibly repellent to new evidence, but Lester says there are very good reasons which can help us understand our human predicament:
Because senses and beliefs are both tools for survival and have evolved to augment one another, our brain considers them to be separate but equally important purveyors of survival information. The loss of either one endangers us. Without our senses we could not know about the world within our perceptual realm. Without our beliefs we could not know about the world outside our senses or about meanings, reasons, or causes.

This means that beliefs are designed to operate independent of sensory data. In fact, the whole survival value of beliefs is based on their ability to persist in the face of contradictory evidence. Beliefs are not supposed to change easily or simply in response to disconfirming evidence. If they did, they would be virtually useless as tools for survival. Our caveman would not last long if his belief in potential dangers in the jungle evaporated every time his sensory information told him there was no immediate threat. A police officer unable to believe in the possibility of a killer lurking behind a harmless appearance could easily get hurt or killed.

As far as our brain is concerned, there is absolutely no need for data and belief to agree. They have each evolved to augment and supplement one another by contacting different sections of the world. They are designed to be able to disagree.
This is incredibly enlightening for why many people automatically discount unofficial versions of 9/11, even though there is a sufficient amount of factual data to raise doubts about the original story. People mistakenly believe that their interests are looked after by the government, and so, they follow through with this belief and assume that their survival will also be looked after by the government in the event of an emergency or crisis. But if Katrina and other natural disasters have proved anything, it is that the government is not solely interested in the survival of the general population. Even under a new administration, the US government is not capable to ensure the survival of countless numbers of people. So putting any trust in such a government should be considered suicide at this point. Survival demands that we question authority, and put trust in ourselves and in our communities, not in distant relatives of the human family who mean us harm.
II. Thinking is Resistance.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of Plato's dialogues, both for class, and also to better understand why people do not let go of their opinions in the face of undeniable evidence. Socrates never had that problem. He saw it as his personal mission to prove the judgment of the Oracle at Delphi, that he was the wisest man of all, wrong. He preached ignorance until the end of his days. His constant probing of the citizens of Athens rested on the still unpopular notion that we know less than we think we know.

Like in ancient times, Socratic questioning is available to us today to get at the truth. We must all learn to embrace it once again, as men and women have done in similar periods of confusion and disquiet, and not look back. For too long the example of Socrates has been taken for granted. He was special, sure, but he was human, and every child is naturally just as acquisitive as Socrates. But as people grow up they question less. In our day, there is a belief that it is okay and normal for certain subjects to be tagged as "conspiracy theories" and thus, go unmentioned. But that is not normal or healthy for a free and open society. Truth is hanging in the balance because we have not addressed the "unspeakable" crimes of our age as historian James Douglass describes them in his book "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters." Certainly, we can't find certain truth, as the philosopher Karl Popper reminded us, but that should not negate an honest pursuit of the truth.

Moreover, people have accepted lies and propaganda too readily. So much so that the modern world has lost Socrates's ancient magic. And with it, gone is the ability to admit ignorance. Too often an admission of ignorance is seen as worse than an admission of guilt. But admitting ignorance should not be looked down upon, rather, it should be encouraged. It is a simple fact that many of us do not know. I have questions about who did 9/11 and why, but I don't honestly know. I thought I knew, but one can only make informed guesses, connect some obvious dots, and leave it there. Until enough evidence is set on the table in a court of law, none of us can come to a definite conclusions about the events that took place on that tragic day in September.

It may feel damning to the ego to declare our ignorance, but not to the spirit, because the spirit walks in truth. So we must learn let go of our previous misconceptions, prejudices and assumptions, and accept the fact that the American and global public have been kept ignorant about the harsh political truths of our lifetime, truths like government-sponsored terrorism, wide-scale banking fraud, and the mass propaganda of the corporate media.

A critical analysis of political phenomena must first begin with us realizing the fact that what we know about our political leaders is absolutely wrong. It is our duty to fess up to our ignorance, and then question, search, dig, and inquire, as some have already done. Besides Socrates's lessons, we should also apply Rumsfeldian logic in our quest for the truth. In case you need to be reminded, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, one of the great villains of modern times, famously said "
there are known "knowns." There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know."

Let's apply Rumsfeld logic to 9/11:

1) Known "Knowns" - We know that Bin Laden and the so-called Al Qaeda network was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. We also know that the Bush administration lied about the presence of WMDs in Iraq, and the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to the international community. We also know that the neoconservatives who were members of the the think tank called The Project For a New American Century were adamant about an expanded imperial role for the United States. They wanted to conquer the Middle East, and they were not shy about their intentions.

2) Known Unknowns - We now know that we don't know who were the real individuals and groups behind the 9/11 attacks. Cheney, and Rumsfeld must have had a hand in the crime, but it's better to remain objective until a court date is announced, and evidence is heard. Also, we don't know the precise narrative of that day, nor have all the evidence that can implicate a wide criminal conspiracy.

3) Unknown Unknowns - This pretty much speaks for itself. As the criminal maniac Rumsfeld tells it, "There are things we do not know we don't know."

III. Conclusion

"The US government's response to 9/11, regardless of who is responsible, has altered our country forever. Our civil liberties will never again be as safe as they were. America's financial capability and living standards are forever lower. Our country's prestige and world leadership are forever damaged. The first decade of the 21st century has been squandered in pointless wars, and it appears the second decade will also be squandered in the same pointless and bankrupting pursuit.

The most disturbing fact of all remains: The 9/11 event responsible for these adverse happenings has not been investigated." - Paul Craig Roberts, "Why Propaganda Trumps Truth"
The nations, cultures and societies that triumph when faced with a deep political, religious and spiritual crisis are those who let go of the false popular opinions and prejudices of their time, and their world, and begin to think anew. When presented with contradictory evidence to their time-ingrained beliefs, they accept it, learn from it, and move on to greater discoveries, and live richer lives. But new truths has its inception in a small minority at first, even as low as a few figures. Only then does it get accepted by the wider society. That is certainly true about the 9/11 truth movement. And because of its rapid growth we are now in the middle of major political changes. True, a large majority of people are still immature and are not ready to face up to the full evilness of the 9/11 crime, and the shadow U.S. government, but it is impossible to deny the people the truth in our age, due to the democratic vitality of the internet, and the spirit of inquiry that is present in many of us.

Indeed, politics in America is in the beginning stages of a huge transformation, powered by knowledge and a groundswell of popular discontent. The sham of popular democracy, and the influence of entrenched elites over modern politics is just too big to ignore. Recent results in U.S primary races in states like Kentucky and Pennsylvania reveal widespread citizen disapproval of incumbents in both parties, and points to a possible "Clean House" movement in the future. The roots for a major paradigm shift change in the governance of the country is already visible, but it will take several big trigger events to further shake the people's confidence in the current US government, and get the movement for change completely off the ground and into the halls of Congress.

The growth of the 9/11 truth movement throughout the world is a testament to the bravery and and spirit that is alive and well in the American people, and the people of the world. The movement has re-injected the principle of truth into politics. At a recent CFR meeting in Montreal, former US national security Advisor
Zbigniew Brzezinski gave voice to this new development in global politics: "For the first time in all of human history Mankind is politically awakened." So far, the government leaders of the world have not responded well to this "total new reality," as Mr. Brzezinski describes it. Rather than accept that political evolution is taking place, the entrenched oligarchy in the United States chose instead to consolidate power at the highest of levels in all sectors of society, and arrogantly declare permanent war against any and all in the name of freedom, the rule of law, and security. But permanent war is not possible without permanent stupidity, and permanent stupidity can only exist in a world without permanent questioning. So, let's follow in the footsteps of Socrates, and practice permanent questioning.

If we do, there is nothing that the current psychopaths in power can do to stop us. They can try erasing their crimes, but their traces remain. The tide of truth is rising from the ashes of Ground Zero, and it will rise to the heights of the two towers before it finally makes landfall on the shores of that political island known as Washington D.C. And that day will not arrive until we all realize that the world will not change by philosophers becoming kings, but by citizens becoming philosophers. So stop reading me, or any other blogger, and start re-reading Plato and Socrates.