The opponents of the Occupy Wall Street Movement criticize it with lies. Paper-thin arguments that defy logic. Easily-disprovable, direct, baldfaced lies. This tactic is nothing new to the Right, and it’s important to understand how they are getting away with it – why they are being believed, at least by some, and what you can do to combat them. I recently came across an essay called “The Crisis of Public Reason”, by Phil Agre (PhD), a Professor of Information Studies at UCLA. It offers a rather frightening explanation for the Right’s tactics.
What is ‘Public Reason’ ?
Professor Agre defines public reason thus:
“The theory behind public reason, which dates to the Enlightenment, is that power-holders can be constrained by compelling them to give reasons for their actions. If the reasons don’t make sense then citizens can point that out, and the disjunction between reason and action will eventually cause the power-holders to lose their legitimacy and thus their power.”
This, in a way, is saying that we agree on what reality is. Further, that we agree on the building blocks and connections that we use to create reality – such as logic and critical thinking alongside underlying ethical considerations (murder is bad, education is good, etc.). What struck home to me about this is not only the definitional aspect of it, but how it recognizes cause-and-effect. What leaders do needs to make sense in a human-experiential-connect-the-dots way, or regardless of ideology, they get shown the door. The thought being that we are not going to make the mistakes of our forebears and engage in the magical thinking that, in turn, results in profound human suffering. That is what the Enlightenment was all about. But in the United States the Enlightenment – the current era in Western cultural life that began in the 18th century, that advocates reason as the primary source for governmental legitimacy and authority – is under attack by corporatists and religious zealots. And this attack – which has been going on for thirty years now – is and has been accomplished using the psychologically manipulative techniques of public relations.
Next page -> Here come the cowboys (Reagan and the right)
More on Occupy Wall Street:
- Police brutality catapults Occupy Wall Street into the mainstream media
- Evicted! Mayor Bloomberg brings enhanced interrogation techniques to OWS
- Mayors play good cop/ bad cop
- Occupy Sesame Street!