Prof. Michael Brenner on “Power of the Word”_on Kevin Barrett’s Truth Jihad Radio

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Prof. Michael Brenner on “Power of the Word”

International Affairs professor Michael Brenner recently sent out an essay entitled “The Power of the Word.” It begins:

“A divide between elites and the populace is a recurrent feature of every large organized society. That has been true without exception since the abundance generated by the mastery of agriculture encouraged the growth and elaboration of earlier Neolithic tribes. There are no known exceptions; but there are variations in modalities. A key to elite dominance always was the superior group’s monopoly – or quasi monopoly – of crucial knowledge. Before the introduction of writing, it took oral form. The subjects covered matters temporal as well as sacred. In those cultures, like Hinduism, where most practical matters were sacrilized, access to religious materials – the mythic eschatology, prayers, rituals – was crucial to consolidating the power of a priesthood in alliance with warrior castes. That alliance, overt or tacit, has been the foundation stone of elite rulership and economic control throughout history. Only over the past 250 years has it been challenged by the radiating influence of the Western Enlightenment…”

Brenner says mass literacy has leveled the playing field…and today, the declining literacy of elites may be leveling it even more: “In the inaugural Nixon-Kennedy debates, linguists judged the level of speech at the 9th or 10th grade. The best estimates of today’s debates place it at the 5th grade level – that includes the grade inflation of Trump’s verbal ejaculations…” His conclusion: “These days we find ourselves in the intriguing situation where ultra-sophisticated scientific and technological advances continue apace, on the one hand, while our performance in managing our collective affairs seems to be getting stupider and stupider – or, at least, our managers are getting stupider and stupider, on the other.”

 This show was broadcast on December 14, 2020.


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