My Comments After Reading Al Gore's The Assault On Reason

The agora was the public space and a very integral part of the ancient Greek city-state. An agora acted as a marketplace and a forum for the citizens of the city-state in exchanging ideas. Its meaning was also that of an assembly and a crossroads of many concepts which could either be taken metaphorically or physically. It was the core of reasoned debate and the airing of concerns of the citizens. It was as was the Roman Senate a non stop debate with exchanges of ideas pro and con and both forms of open forums were the basis for our own Senate (which literally means council of elders) which still practices the quorum and filibuster.

However, there is something missing from our Senate (and Congress as a whole) of today in the United States, and in our public dialogue and it in many ways no longer follows the spirit of the forums it is based on in practice, even though in theory it is still modelled after those classic examples of Democratic Republics.

That is the very essence of Al Gore's book, The Assault on Reason. In it he seeks to connect the dots regarding the disconnect between our way of governing and those it is supposed to govern, and researches why we as a people have allowed that disconnect to take place. What has happened to the concern Americans should have for such matters of state that effect our lives? How and why do we allow fear to override our reason? Why do we consistently vote against our own better interests? How has civics and caring for good governance been replaced by matters trivial in comparison to those that will shape our very future? What has happened to our agora?

The reasons for this disconnect are stated plainly and truthfully in this no punches pulled critique of our political system by Mr. Gore with the quoting of these words: "Fear is the enemy of reason." And in the case of the Bush administration, it has been fear based on deliberate lies and misinformation spun and packaged for them by a complicit corporate media to take advantage of those who are unknowing of that truth and unwilling for whatever reason to seek it, in order to selfishly gain from that fear. It is to me truly a wicked deception that has unravelled the very fabric of this Democratic Republic.

However, as Mr. Gore also states in this book, it is not just the Bush administration that has brought this about. They are merely the continuation of a trend that began years ago and has only been allowed to become exceedingly worse as the distractions and fears pumped up by those on all sides who seek to gain from them have taken more as they have been given more. We are all responsible regardless of political stripe for the current state we find our country in. The old saying if you give them an inch they will take a yard is very appropriate here. By allowing them to steal an election, they feel undaunted in taking even more, and when that is given such as in the case of Habeus Corpus or other rights, why should they not feel empowered to take it even further if they believe we will not stop them or hold those representing us accountable for not stopping them?

This is now the crisis of Democracy we find ourselves in right now. Their taking that yard over and over again as we the people continue to sit and question why and how, when the answer is us and the abrogation of our role in stopping those forces seeking to distract us in order to regain the reason of years past that guided our decisions for the betterment of all people, not just certain groups bent on profiting from it based on their ideological or religious beliefs that take precedence over such reason. That is basically what I got from his book, and that we must now begin to see our part in the unravelling of this fabric and begin the process of making it whole again, or we will lose it.

There is the dilemma however, as Mr. Gore delves very deeply into the history of media from the invention of the printing press by Johannes Guttenberg, The Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason, the invention of radio, television, all the way up to the Internet, and interweaves these mediums with the psychological influences they had and have on the human mind and the responses they seek to program. With the onset of the printing press came a new freedom with many new ideas being brought forth that at that time were also stifled by the Church and other interests that felt threatened by this new found freedom of people who until that time could be kept in tow because of their ignorance.

And surely in all times throughout history when reason has moved to become prevalent, powerful interests have used their influence to try to squash those seeking knowledge. However, again, the spirit and passion of the soul and the courage to do the right thing taking precedence over the fear is what guided our stars to seeing this country survive for the last 231 years. Throughout history open marketplaces for exchanging such ideas became common, and books, pamphlets, and other ways of expression were the catalysts for movements that led to revolution (Thomas Paine's Common Sense,) including our own because people did not have the distractions of today to minimize its importance. And that is why the Internet is now so important in continuing that tradition.

We have now allowed that courage to be diminished and it is setting a dangerous precedent that threatens to leave our children with little more than a shell of what we started with, and as Mr. Gore states at the ending of this wonderful and prescient book: "Will we continue to live as a people under the rule of law as embodied in our Constitution? Or will we fail future generations by leaving them a Constitution far diminished from the charter of liberty we have inherited from our forebears? Our choice is clear."

And that choice is now becoming a part of the process we seek to change instead of being bystanders on the sidelines. It's now the only way to save this Democracy and in turn save this planet from the ravages of the climate crisis that has met the same fate at the hands of people who possess neither reason nor the moral strength to do the right thing. We must find out agora again, and speak loudly in it.

And the choice of our media now is of course, not to take this warning to heart and see the truth and seek to remedy it for the good of our country, but to respond as interests have done for centuries by striking out at the messenger. All one can say to that is, as fear is the enemy of reason, so is truth the enemy of totalitarianism. And there is plenty of that - truth, in this book by Al Gore. I once stated that Earth In The Balance was Mr. Gore's soul on paper. This book is then his heart, and it would serve this country well to read it, listen to its message regardless of politics, and to yes, take that reflective look in the mirror as we see our part in holding accountable those who would dare to abdicate reason for profit. It cannot stand and it must not stand.

Thank you, Mr. Gore for being the true voice of conscience in this country. For your work on the climate crisis especially as it is at the core of all that affects our lives, your statesmanship, your guidance, and your unwavering leadership. May we be so fortunate to continue to be the benefactors of it in whatever capacity you choose for many years to come. And may we get beyond the sound bites to finding the strength to take your lead in once again becoming citizens active in restoring the reason that has been so mercilessly assaulted while we looked the other way.

Tags: Al Gore, citizen responsibilities, civil liberties, constitution, founding fathers, The Assault On Reason (all tags)


1 Comment

Re: Al Gore's The Assault On Reason

You have written a well-reasoned review and I share what you have stated. However, I wondered why VP Gore didn't consider the following as examples of "interactive" communication: YouTube clips on CNN, the same channels' i-report, and the e-mails that Lou Dobbs reads so frequently on his show. I suppose he is looking for a more sustained type of interaction.

Mr Gore reports on page 106 about being told by scientific staff at Oak Ridge National Lab that when Bush claimed as evidence for WMDs in Iraq that Saddam bought aluminum tubes, that these were not at all the correct ones for uranium enrichment, could Gore himself not made a public statement? This reminds me of Sen Durbin's belated commentary on the disparity of what BushCo stated publicly and what the Intelligence Committee members had seen and were sworn to keep secret.

The fairly long section spelling out laws broken by Bush asks why no action has been taken to hold him accountable, to name a special prosecutor, for example. The answer seems still to be what we've been hearing: there are just not enough votes.

If this book is read and discussed, as the Illinois Democratic Network book group will do on June 24, perhaps there will be a ripple effect and voters will respond in great strength to counteract the "Assault on Reason."

by Books Alive 2007-06-08 02:55PM | 0 recs


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