The will to ignorance

The will to ignorance

From Left Business Observer (LBO), a leftie newsletter, comes a fascinating interview with Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek.

The common leftie viewpoint is – we just need to tell people the facts. Because once people learn the truth they will come around to our views. Zizek says no – people, for the most part, actively do NOT want to know what’s going on.

There’s a active refusal to know. If you ask an average citizen  with enough of their own worries they’d say, “Don’t even tell me this. We pay taxes so the government can do all the dirty things that I don’t want to know about”
The key factor is not that people are being duped – there’s an active will not to know.

I’m not saying this is an eternal fact. I’m just describing how specifically today’s ideology works, through a direct appeal to the will of ignorance.

So what do we do?

The ruling system of ideology created such high democratic expectations that it can not live up to them. Gradually it will have to violate them.

My worry is not the worry of many leftist friends, like, “Why are you dreaming about revolutions – the system will just go on.” No – I am almost tempted to say unfortunately, because unstable pre-revolutionary situations are not a holiday of history. They can be very unpleasant. But they will compel us to invent new political forms. In a couple of years we will literally be forced to reinvent new ways.

LBO concludes with

A will to ignorance suggests a troubled conscience: if our government kills and improverishes people to maintain a global hierarchy, Americans don’t want to hear about it because it hurts.

It’s not just a matter of getting the facts out there. The will to ignorance is too tenacious for that, and there’s no master key in existence that will unlock it. But the first step in devising such a key is to admit one is needed. Facts alone won’t do the trick.

LBO, which deals primarily with financial matters from a leftist perspective, is published by Doug Henwood, author of several books and host of a radio show on Pacifica outlet WBAI in NYC. You can listen to the interview online. If you want to read the interview, then you gotta subscribe! $22 a year and well worth it.