“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
― Isaac Asimov
Modern industrial civilisation has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilisation has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation.
Now, it’s long been understood very well that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it’s possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited: that the World is an infinite resource, and that the World is an infinite garbage-can. At this stage of History, either one of two things is possible: either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community-interests, guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others; or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.
As long as some specialised class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole and, by now, that means the Global Community. The question is whether privileged élites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena. The question, in brief, is whether Democracy and Freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly-terminal phase of human existence, Democracy and Freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.
― Noam Chomsky