After reading another depressing news story about Edward Snowden in the NY Times, I jumped down to see if there were comments and, of course, found a litany of reasonable comments alongside more foolish and irrelevant ones.
It seems to me one of the major social problems we face in the US is the authoritarianism inside peoples’ minds. It’s useful for people who have and want power to manipulate people, keep them distracted and powerless, while picking their pocket, but it’s not a particularly constructive way to further a society or, dare we imagine, a culture. When governments treat adults like children, many of those adults never develop the capacity for critical thinking or lose the ability after years of institutional condescension. And these are the adults passing down wisdom to their children.
But how to quell the creep of authoritarianism? This is not a political issue that can or will be used by democrats or republicans; they both have authoritarians in the ranks. And while you can find authoritarianism lurking in the minds of men (and women) across this country and around the world, it’s hard to deny that it tends to grow in the places that people left behind when they moved to cities on the coasts. The reasons for this are manifold, but the solution is simple: we need a two-pronged program.
Prong A: Sophomore and/or junior year high school students should live with a host family in another part of the country, in order to better understand that things aren’t the same everywhere.
Prong B: A thousand monied, big city liberals should move back to their hometowns in order to establish themselves in their hometown communities and share their enlightened values; people in rural areas and smaller cities are just as able to become informed and wise, but they often lack awareness of the channels for cultivating their intellects, as they find themselves surrounded by mega-brands, strip malls, and born-again authoritarians. A handful of friendly, sociable libertarians spending just five years in an authoritarian conservative town can reshape the local culture and help pave the way for a more informed and resolute future citizenry. …right?