Chomsky and “The Pledge” February 18, 2008Posted by Andreas in activism, anarchism, Politics, Quotes, Society, South Africa.
Last week, I wrote about the new pledge that South African school kids will be obliged to recite every morning. It seems much of the public criticism surrounding the pledge has to do with the content of the thing, particularly the first sentence (“We, the youth of South Africa, recognising the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered and sacrificed for justice and freedom”), which some people consider to be divisive. Frankly I don’t have that problem. I think the text is fairly factual and accurate. I simply have a problem with anybody being forced to regurgitate it over and over again. It’s a blunt attempt at indoctrination.
Here’s Noam Chomsky on the subject (from a 1990 talk entitled “Containing the Threat of Democracy” published in Chomsky on Anarchism; my italics):
A properly functioning system of indoctrination has a variety of tasks, some rather delicate. One of its targets is the stupid and ignorant masses. They must be kept that way, diverted with emotionally potent oversimplifications, marginalized, and isolated. Ideally, each person should be alone in front of a TV screen watching sports, soap operas, or comedies, deprived of organizational structures that permit individuals lacking resources to discover what they think and believe in interaction with others, to formulate their own concerns and programs, and to act to realize them. They can be permitted, even encouraged, to ratify the decisions made by their betters in periodic elections. The “rascal multitude” are the proper targets of the mass media and a public education system geared to obedience and training in needed skills, including the skill of repeating patriotic slogans on timely occasions.