While camping a while back, someone read something written by Paula Gunn Allen to me while sitting around the fire. It was my first introduction to the term “intellectual apartheid”.
This term has been floating around in my head since then. She writes about it in a literary context, making the point that political conquest also results in intellectual conquest. Ruling parties decide what is literature and what isn’t—a form of political censorship.
She went on to deconstruct the elements of English literature, the formula used. This formula involves a never-ending series of conflicts, epiphanies, and resolutions in which the protagonist emerges victorious. This literary form and structure, within which the majority of our stories are told, shape our thinking
Literature is the mirror which reflects the society that produces it and ours reflects a permanent state of war, which also consists of a series of never-ending conflicts.
I researched the term a little more, and found that it is also used to describe the process of keeping knowledge away from the masses by making it expensive. Personally, I’ve experienced the effects of this many times. Being a curious person, while researching something online, I’ll come across exactly the information that I’m looking for, but will have to pay to subscribe to the journal it’s in to get it.
Health care can be held hostage only because the information doctors learn in medical school is being held for ransom. We should all be taught this information in grade school in order to properly care for our bodies. That’s just one example of how intellectual apartheid negatively affects each and every one of us every day of our lives. There are many more.
This is a most excellent article that includes suggestions for open-sourcing knowledge and making it available outside the space where wealth and academia co-exist to perpetuate themselves.
In an attempt to make independent survival, as well as thought, impossible, international corporations are now laying claim to, and filing patents on, plants created by nature. They use the logic that people who come up with creative ideas and inventions should be compensated for them in a “free market” through patents and copyrights. The truth is that more often than not, patents on great ideas are purchased by those whose vested interests are threatened by them. Those vested interests ensure that humanity is prevented from benefitting from them.
While grassroots politics may provide hope that our corrupt system can be changed from within, the truth is that knowledge is power. Sadly, those with the knowledge necessary to create and deploy weapons of mass destruction are controlling us all through fear. We can only counter that power by freely sharing knowledge amongst ourselves. The question is whether there will be enough human beings able to successfully infiltrate the system and purchase high-level knowledge–without being corrupted by the wealth and privilege granted them for keeping it from the rest of us–to make a difference. If not, we’ll become just another species facing extinction–and the only one to go extinct due to excessive greed and cruelty. That’s why we won’t even be mourned.
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Writing intended to inform, entertain, and inspire.