Skip to comments.Al Gore's Vulcan Utopia
Posted on 05/31/2007 12:35:16 PM PDT by GMMAC
Al Gore's Vulcan Utopia
David Brooks, National Post, page A21
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2007
If you're going to read Al Gore's book, you're going to have to steel yourself for a parade of sentences like the following:
"The remedy for what ails our democracy is not simply better education (as important as that is) or civic education (as important as that can be), but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way - a conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response."
But, hey, nobody ever died from contact with pomposity, and Al Gore's "The Assault on Reason" is well worth reading. It reminds us that whatever the effects of our homogenizing mass culture, it is still possible for exceedingly strange individuals to rise to the top.
Gore is, for example, a radical technological determinist. While most politicians react to people, Gore reacts to machines, and in this book he lays out a theory of history entirely driven by them.
He writes that "the idea of self-government became feasible after the printing press." With this machine, people suddenly had the ability to use the printed word to debate ideas and proceed logically to democratic conclusions. As Gore writes in his best graduate school manner, "The eighteenth century witnessed more and more ordinary citizens able to use knowledge as a source of power to mediate between wealth and privilege."
This Age of Reason produced the American Revolution. But in the 20th-century, television threatened it all. In Gore's view, TV immobilizes the reasoning centers in the brain and stimulates the primitive, instinctive parts. TV creates a "visceral vividness" that is not "modulated by logic, reason and reflective thought."
TV allows political demagogues to exaggerate dangers and stoke up fear. Furthermore, "conglomerates can dominate the expressions of opinion that flood the mind of the citizenry" and "the result is a de facto coup d'état overthrowing the rule of reason."
Fortunately, another technology is here to save us. "The Internet is perhaps the greatest source of hope for re-establishing an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish," he writes. The Internet will restore reason, logic and the pursuit of truth.
The first response to this argument is, Has Al Gore ever actually looked at the Internet? He spends much of this book praising cold, dispassionate logic, but is that really what he finds on most political blogs or in his e-mail folder?
But Gore's imperviousness to reality is not the most striking feature of the book. It's the chilliness and sterility of his worldview. Gore is laying out a comprehensive theory of social development, but it allows almost no role for family, friendship, neighborhood or just face-to-face contact. He sees society the way you might see it from a speaking podium - as a public mass exercise with little allowance for intimacy or private life. He envisions a sort of Vulcan Utopia, in which dispassionate individuals exchange facts and arrive at logical conclusions.
This in turn grows out of a bizarre view of human nature. Gore seems to have come up with a theory that the upper, logical mind sits on top of, and should master, the primitive and more emotional mind below. He thinks this can be done through a technical process that minimizes information flow to the lower brain and maximizes information flow to the higher brain.
The reality, of course, is there is no neat distinction between the "higher" and "lower" parts of the brain. There are no neat distinctions between the "rational" mind and the "visceral" body. The mind is a much more complex network of feedback loops than accounted for in Gore's simplistic pseudoscience.
Without emotions like fear, the "logical" mind can't reach conclusions. On the other hand, many of the most vicious, genocidal acts are committed by people who are emotionally numb, not passionately out of control.
Some great philosopher should write a book about people - and there are many of them - who flee from discussions of substance and try to turn them into discussions of process. Utterly at a loss when asked to talk about virtue and justice, they try to shift attention to technology and methods of communication. They imagine that by altering machines they can alter the fundamentals of behavior, or at least avoid the dark thickets of human nature.
If a philosopher did write such a book, it would help us understand Al Gore, and it would, as he would say, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.
Originally appeared in the New York Times, May 29, 2007
but the re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse in which individuals can participate in a meaningful way - a conversation of democracy in which meritorious ideas and opinions from individuals do, in fact, evoke a meaningful response
I would like to know about any time in our history when we had more or even close to the freedom of democratic discourse as we do now. This implies we've lost discourse. The fact that we are here discussing Algore's book shows that discourse is alive and well.. What this should translate is that Gore wants his side to control discourse...
Obviously, AlGore has been watching too much TV.
Please, PLEASE don’t make me read it. (sob)
I find nothing logical about Gore at all.
Rather a condescending hypocritical pompous ass is what I find him to be.
Among other things.
Emotional blow hard... “He Betrayed us, he played on our fears!!!!”
Far from cold logic.
I am trying to imagine the mental state of anyone who could read that book with any enjoyment, or who could read that book without screaming and throwing it across the room. Such prose could be used to torture terrorists and force them to reveal their secrets.
Al Gore is Herbert.
algore’s more like Gollum than Spock, anyway.
Spock could be likeable, in his own way.
The same’s just not true for algore.
Of course he has, he invented it.
Let me summarize...the author is basically saying that Al Gore is a douchebag.
algore writes like the comedian Professor Irwin Corey sounds and Corey’s review could be said about Gore.
In the words of internationally known theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, Corey is “a cultural clown, a parody of literacy, a travesty of all that our civilization holds dear and one of the funniest grotesques in America. He is Chaplin’s clown with a college education.”
“re-establishment of a genuine democratic discourse”
albore’s saying “vote RAT!”
“The remedy for what ails our democracy....”
Al.... ours is a REPUBLIC. Try to keep up. It might be easier if you kept your mouth shut.
But at the same time he is fighting for the "Fairness Doctrine" with the intention of killing democratic discourse on talk radio. The Dems say they want equal time, but in reality they want zero time by making political talk too difficult for the broadcasters to deal with, so they'll just have sports, gardening, home repair and relationship shows instead of people like Boortz, Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage.
I guess radio talk isn't "meritorious" enough because it criticizes the Dems too often. How long would it take for him to demand a Hillary style "internet gatekeeper" to ensure that all discussion is properly meritorious.
And I thought this dweeb invented the internet......
Al Gore speaks a foreign language called Gobbledegoop.
Its designed so that it sounds important,but no one can understand it.
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