Friday, June 16, 2006

"a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens"

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead

I'm still reading Foucault's Pendelum. It's going a bit slowly. I'm starting to see why it was compared to the Da Vinci code. The Plan is unfolding and the characters are already talking about the Templars and the Holy Grail. One character has already died (apparently at least) for "knowing too much".

The above quote from Margaret Mead is usually put on posters or stickers or coffee mugs, in general to support the optimistic idea that individuals can make a difference. I just wanted to mention that in the course of reading this novel about powerful organizations working behind the scenes to manipulate world events, it occurs to me that the same quote supports a pessimistic and conspiratorial view of history as well. "A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens" could be your favorite charity or it could be Skull and Bones. It all depends on the agenda.

Now that I think about it, this reminds of the divisions used by the "Five Percenters". 85% of the population are the ignorant, deaf, dumb and blind masses of people who are exploited by those in power. 10% of the population who know the truth but use their knowledge to exploit the 85%. And finally, 5% are the poor righteous teachers who know the truth and work to "civilize" 85% and give them "knowledge of self".


Irving Karchmar said...

A thought-provoking post, but the 85% may be too low.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

It's funny you should mention that. I was just reading today about Skull and Bones and their views on the educational system (on Wikipedia):

In the Prussian strategy, the whole population is categorized into three "educational castes" to formulate future easier elite control of the population.

1. those who will be policy makers, who are taught to think (0.5%),
2. those who will be engineers, lawyers, doctors--who are taught to partially think, only for accreditation in specialized topics (5.5%), and
3. the children of the masses, who are to be taught how to follow orders (94%).

sondjata said...

The Prussian Strategy would seem to be in effect.

arafat said...

Huhh, interesting. I didn't know the Skull and Bones had such serious ideas about education. I have a number of friends (Muslim) who are Bones(wo)men. Perhaps I should ask.

I haven't read Foucault's Pendulum, altough the book has been lying on my bookself for nearly two years now. I bought it because I think Umberto Eco is great and I loved The Name of the Rose, though I never got to finish reading that, either. It was actually assigned reading for a seminar I was taking on Medieval Islamic Philosophy! But I cheated and watched the movie insted. Who reads a 500 page novel for one day of class!

Abdul-Halim V. said...

OMG, what! Wow. I never imagined that there would be Muslim Bonesmen, although I guess that now that I think about it, it actually makes sense. I'm used to seeing such groups as being WASP dominated, but now that I think about it, it is actually likely that Muslim undergrads would have the talent (but also the connections and privilege) which a group like Skull and Bones would value greatly.

arafat said...

Well, your surprise is entirely legitimate. For much of it's history, the society was indeed a bastion of elitist white men. I discovered just a few weeks ago, through an article in the Yale Daily News magazine, that the first time ever Skull & Bones admitted women into the society was in 1992 (32 years after Yale became co-ed). Can you believe that? As late as 1992! I mean, even I remember the early 90's! But that's not the most disturbing part. Apparently, the matter raised a lot of hell, and Bones alumni from all over came back to New Haven to protest the decision.

The good news is, they've moved on. For example, this past year's society had a much greater percentage of 'ethnic' students than in the larger undergraduate body.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Yes, I was reading about the Bonesmen alumni being upset as well. When group on campus chose to do that, the higher ups actually locked the group out of the tomb, so the Bonesmen from that year had to use the headquarters of another secret society.

I think the situation can get kind of complicated. At the University of Michigan there is a similar organization... Michigamua.. which had Gerald Ford as a member when he was an undergrad, and which also has associatiations with racist stereotypes (in this case, mostly Native Americans) and elitism. They also became co-od relatively recently (late 80's I think).

But there have been even more interesting recent developments. This past year, they not only tapped women, but several undergrads were "outed as members" and it turned out that they were in lefty, progressive organizations.

Subsequently, the various progressive organizations actually kicked out the members who were in Michigamua.

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous website! And types like you are the first to call whites racist or scream "discrimination!".
The only true way that the races/colors/nationalities can get along is via Communism. Before the capitalists and religious fanatics lied to the people promising them "freedom"; the Communist and Socialist nations had better harmony/equality so-to-speak in labor, race, and health & well-being than the religious and capitalist nations. Just look around you; especially in America (which is probably where this website originated). All you have is a bunch of spoiled brats of all colors/heritages with too much time/resources on their hands.
I'm Caucasian-Indian heritage. My wife is mexican and our children are a mixture of both of us. Websites like yours only promote racism and more hatred towards people like you.
Personally, ALL "My race only" websites should be outlawed and their creators jailed or shot. It is people like YOU who are a threat to world peace and coexistence; not the white man!

"Regards" Joseph

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Um... on what basis would you say that this is a "My Race Only" website? (And which race do you think that is?) And if you are the one saying that people "like me" (whatever that means) should be jailed or shot, who is the one not willing to co-exist? You don't even know me.