Are we fighting a war?

I just watched the movie “Idiocracy” as recommended by Brian and Joe. In the words of d’Arcy Norman“damn. that movie was depressing, funny, and awesome”. It tells the story of a distopian future, where due to the fact that smart people have less children than stupid people, by the year 2500, smart people have died out. Everyone is incredibly stupid. Those left spend their time drinking “Brawndo, The thirst mutilator. It’s got electrolytes!” and watching people get kicked in the balls on television. It’s a future where everyone behaves exactly as Kraft, Walmart, etc want us to behave. It’s a brilliant cautionary tale and I highly recommend watching it.

Idiocracy Poster
Idiocracy poster (via Wikipedia)

Will it happen though?
Is there a possibility that humanity is doomed to get dumber? I think yes. There are many different reasons why this may or may not be so (all of which better suited for a non-wee-hours-of-the-morning post), but I think the largest of those is that in a world of stupid people, the corporations win. Corporations are psychotic entities that would do anything to get us to behave as they want and they have a lot of power (as described in another thought-provoking move, the Corporation). The power is evident everywhere. They are doing their damndest to use all media at their disposal to dumb-down children and make them into perfect buying machines, doing their bidding.

How do we stop it? We fight back in the schools. If education can be revolutionized (and there are many smart people working on it) then we can teach the young how to take back the power from the corporations and to make them do our bidding instead. Eating healthy,  exercising, learning and being compassionate are what smart people do and we need to ensure that despite the corporation’s efforts, everyone is given the tools and motivation to do so.

This is a war, it’s humanity VS. the corporations.We are fighting to see who controls who. If we get real about being flexible and innovative enough to fix education and make it a place where people learn to become smart enough to take back power from our creations.

7 thoughts on “Are we fighting a war?

  1. Except…the planet is covered with “stupid” critters who are able to survive, reproduce and adapt. I believe it’s our notion of “intelligence,” which should be questioned. When the affluent invest their energy in developing solutions to make their lives more efficient, through use of technology, meanwhile filtering out the coarser side of reality, who’s to judge which of are intelligent? Maybe we should give more credit to people who are able to survive and thrive despite corporate manipulation, poverty, oppression, and worse. We’re all going to end up ignorant, but some of us have the privilege of choosing where we concentrate our attention.

  2. Hey Jen, I totally agree. Although in the movie, everyone was going to die due to the fact that “Brawndo” (basically Gatorade) had been given the contract to “water” the crops with its products. All the crops died.

    My own definition of intelligence (as alluded to in the second last paragraph) is cognitive ability including the ability to maintain health (yours and the people/planet around you) as well as the ability to act toward others with compassion. As far as I am concerned if one is not able to look after oneself or other people/things, then one cannot be deemed intelligent.

    As for those in poverty and oppression, I think that one of the many root causes of that poverty and oppression is how little credit others give them for their own intelligence and ability to survive and adapt to their harsh conditions.

  3. I love the film, The Corporation. The DSM Psychopathy diagnosis is frightening, depressing, and true at the same time. Have you seen The Yes Men Fix the World? I would highly recommend it — you know where to find it.

  4. Nope, haven’t seen it. Also, can’t seem to find it anywhere (I looked in all the usual locations). I’ll keep looking though…

  5. I’ve always been worried that some people who maybe should not have so many kids, like arguably the OctoMom, are reproducing exponentially while others who may be more educated get together and have one child, or no children.

    I also completely agree that education is the answer. Because we cannot force parents to take a licensing test before having children (although sometimes I think we should…), the alternative is to intervene in the public education system.

    I am so intrigued to watch the movie to see what might happen!

  6. I gotta say, there’s something I can’t put my finger on about this post that comes off incredibly dismissive. I won’t argue with you that there are segments of the population who are fans of oversimplification and have no interest in the underpinnings of things we find wonderful like science and technology. But you seem to assume that the children of those people are necessarily doomed be “stupid” and prone to manipulation by corporations too. How many people do you know have escaped their parents in order to leave entirely different lives — whether that is a shift in locale, vocation, or political party? As long as alternatives to corporate activity exist (the burgeoning DIY movement and hackspaces say to me yes, pockets of resistance thrive) and are legally accessible, I don’t think you can write off the space between people’s ears. But I’ll also admit to not having seen the movie, and to get back to you when I do.

    Thinking people are stupid is one of the easiest ways to shoot yourself in the foot if you want to have a meaningful conversation with them. That’s what I learned at the SFU Dialogue program, and it’s one tool in my back pocket to hack corporate influence. I’m probably highly biased in my take on this, because I have to believe what I do — which boils down to celebrating and nurturing community — isn’t hopeless.

  7. Hey Karen,

    I agree that this post is dismissive and oversimplified. It was a brain-dump and the ideas could have been expressed much more elegantly.

    I truly believe that through the work that you and others do, we can help to stop this kind of thing from happening. Stupid is also a loaded word, “culturally bankrupt” may be a better one for what I want to describe?

    That being said, I still think the central idea of a war stands. Pockets of resistance are thriving, however, many corporations are actively trying to squash them. Education is rife with such examples. So is the food industry (look at how the word “organic” is slowly starting to lose meaning). The work you do is effective because the corporate influence hasn’t struck as deep as they want it to. But what about in 400 years time? If you don’t do a good enough job now there will be no community left to nurture and celebrate.

    Of course (and maybe it didn’t come through as strongly as I intended in the post) I believe that you will do a good enough job! The work you do is exactly the kind of thing needed to ensure that the nightmare portrayed in Distopia does not happen. You are one of the people that leaves me full of hope. I simply want to motivate all of us to fight as hard as we possibly can.

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