Monday, July 26, 2004

just imagine...

What if we lived in a world where the powerful (for example: those who run large corporations and governments) decided to make the populace sick, frightened, and stupid? What would it take? Food that is processed so as to have lost any real nutritional value; meat so inundated with hormones and antibiotics that children's bodies develop earlier and medicines become less effective; constant warnings that anything and everything can harm us, but no suggestion that we should change our habits in any way; an education system that seeks to dumb everything down to an anti-intellectual pedagogical stance that the right answer is all that matters. Okay, so that's a disingenuous approach, since we already live in such a world.

There are those conspiracy theorists out there who believe that somewhere in a room in Skull & Bones a cabal of freemasons is deciding all of these things in an effort to destroy the world in a craven chase for ever-greater wealth. I'm not one of these theorists--though every time I bring up an example of corporate mendacity and irresponsibility with my step-father, he gets irritated and suggests that I drop my conspiracy theories. So, to address the question briefly, since I think corporations and some in the government do, in fact, look for ways to to turn us into addicted lemmings, metaphorically willing to jump off a cliff after the next fast food promotion, here it is: I do not think the corporate heads gather together to plot how to ensure the longevity of American conspicuous consumptiion, but I do think that there is an unacknowledged assumption that well-informed, healthy people are bad for business.

After all, it is fair to say, I think, that the various food processing corporations would rather not admit to consumers exactly how the food is made, what it consists of, and what it really does to a person's body. It is also fair to say, I think, that clothing companies would rather not sell higher quality clothing because their whole business model is built on a puerile craving for new clothes with each seasonal shift. And the intelligence question? Is there any doubt that an informed populace might actually ask questions before making choices? But we are not that society. Rather we are apparently the society that praises the folksy guy who doesn't seem too smart. We appreciate ignorance as much as we like our high fructose corn syrup.