Books, Reading, and the State

A fellow who goes by the moniker coramnobis wrote “Doesn’t anybody ever read anymore?” in a thread of comments in the Guardian news paper on-line. This is a comment in the Glenn Greenwald area. The fellow in question is a lawyer and expert on military law. And so I wrote back and the following commentary is taken from my comment but is heavily modified to be more general. It is a short post as I don’t really have much time this weekend to post on the topic I want to do next.

It is a matter of fact that various polls and other research tells us that most American people don’t read but a handful of books after they get out of school. The books they do read would be mostly fiction, celebrity biographies, “self-help”, or “how-to” books. I would imagine that many in the world do read on-line, but many kids I observe would much rather watch a youtube about a topic than read about it. I believe most adults also would rather get their news from TV or video clips on the Internet.

Many “progressives” who engage me in various places probably read very few books. Take the book For a New Liberty as an example. This book outlines the libertarian outlook and is by the a founder of CATO (later booted for being too “radical”) and acknowledged as one of the men who grew the libertarian movement in the US from a handful to millions. Why do I pick this book for an example? Many progressives and conservatives alike rail against some imaginary ghost of a straw-man when they attack libertarianism. They don’t seem to have a Fracking clue as to what libertarianism really is. They could find out (no money lost) if they wanted to do so by simply reading some of the many free offerings at the Mises Institute.

Or one could look at Ethics of Liberty which is also on-line and free to read (or download for a kindle or other device) which covers many different topics on ethics from a libertarian viewpoint. Take chapter 13 for example. It is titled: “Punishment and Proportionality” which is an important topic for most people. The opponents of libertarianism could find out a lot about those “evil” libertarian men and women who do not worship the state as the “answer” to all our problems by reading it.

Thus, it should be quite clear that, under libertarian law, capital punishment would have to be confined strictly to the crime of murder. For a criminal would only lose his right to life if he had first deprived some victim of that same right. It would not be permissible, then, for a merchant whose bubble gum had been stolen, to execute the convicted bubble gum thief. If he did so, then he, the merchant, would be an unjustifiable murderer, who could be brought to the bar of justice by the heirs or assigns of the bubble gum thief. … ~ Rothbard

Many progressives could quote mine for debatable quotes like the above and claim that not only murderers should be executed but so should men guilty of other things. Or that no one at all should ever be executed. Whatever. But few ordinary people who call themselves progressives have, to my knowledge, taken advantage of the millions of words written by Rothbard, Block, Hoppe, Murphy, or other leading theorists of the libertarian movement to criticize them and show how they are wrong. Why not? Well there could be many reasons, but I think that reading enough so that one also reads the “other side” is long out of style except for, perhaps, in academia.

The above is just one example. Take another one. I bet few people that believe in the hoax called “mann-made global warming” (pun intended) read the award wining site WUWT because they just “know” that we are all going to die of heat. Even though that site shows proof of data tampering, lying, incompetence, withholding of data and methods, and much else by the alarmist “scientists”. Anyone could comment there (must use clean language though) to their hearts content if they see any error of falsehood in any the many articles.

Bottom line. We moderns are far less “educated” than the generation who founded this country in spite of the tremendous advantages we have in access to books, essays, and information over that generation. The system (government and the elites) loves this ignorance because it makes it easier to keep us divided and yelling at each other rather than looking to the state to see what that entity really is and what we might be able to do about it.

Public School are not about helping kids become critical thinkers even if the new “Common Core State Standards” say that is one of the main goals. Get real people, the state wants people raised to be obedient drones.

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