In America, ideas, practices, and policies continue to be implemented long after being discredited by experience. The War on Drugs is a notorious example. Its failure has been so evident that many states now are openly defying the federal government and legalizing the use of banned substances. But the federal government continues to ban them. American economists continue to promote free market capitalism even though it has failed to produce a single prosperous culture in more than two hundred years and has never even provided for the needs of people. Get tough on crime practices such as harsh and long prison sentences have not reduced crime; yet they continue to be utilized. The application of economic sanctions as a tool of foreign policy is another egregious example. America’s guiding principle seems to be “if at first you don’t succeed, do what you did over and over.” Getting it wrong is the American way.
America’s college graduates, even those who graduate from America’s elite institutions, graduate while believing the same dogmas and holding the same attitudes they held when they first enrolled in college. Apparently professors no longer (perhaps never did) make any attempt to teach students how to evaluate ideas or even the importance of doing so. Education has become merely vocational training. Any ideas taught are those which are conventionally believed. The result is that no new ideas can emerge from this culture, and human progress is impossible. Americans are trapped in trivia–entertainment, sports, baubles, bangles, trinkets, and technological toys. Some have called this an addiction to materialism, but they are wrong. The addiction is to ignorance, especially ignorance expressed as belief, and the addiction goes all the way back to 1620.
The consequence of this addiction is a political process that has been described as pendular. A group gains political power and implements seventeenth century ideas which have long been discredited by experience. When the results do not meet expectations, another group gains political power and implements nineteenth century ideas which have also been discredited by experience. The eighteenth century’s enlightenment ideas play no role in the process because they have never been adopted by any group of believers. So when the implemented nineteenth century ideas also fail to meet expectations, the only alternative available is a return to the previously discarded seventeenth century ideas. Back and forth the process goes without ever advancing. Civilization is at a standstill. No problems are ever solved and no conflicts are ever avoided. The ancient Greeks fought Persian hoards. Western nations fight Near Eastern ones. See how much more civilized human beings are today that they were in 400 B.C.E.! The more things change, the more they remain the same, because the enlightenment has gone dark. In the absence of new ideas, the dialectical process never advances, and it won’t until believers repudiate their creeds, and people see the value in the maxim, Nullius in verba. No mere claim, no matter whom it is made by, has any value.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” ~ Rita Mae Brown