HOW MUCH A PROBLEM IS POLITICAL IGNORANCE? 

WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT IT?

 

Written by Jimmy Crespo

 

 

Throughout our history, political ignorance has been one of the

most relevant illnesses of society due to the serious consequences

it meant for the people, while the oligarchic sectors benefited

from it.

 

Before talking about the current political ignorance, I would like

to take a look at history, to observe how this disease of society

acted in the "beta" democracies of the nineteenth and twentieth

centuries, to know what were their causes and consequences as

well as how some people tried to combat it is important to

compare it with today's reality and see if there has progressed.

 

By the 17th century, the famous British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes warned us that if the population is not educated, politicians could use this lack of knowledge to their advantage. So, in the film Daens (Coninx, 1992) we see a small reflection of the political ignorance that existed in the second half of the 19th century in Belgium, produced mostly by illiteracy, which between 1866 and 1900 was on average 58.75%, data by the UNESCO Institute for Education in Belgium.

 

It should be noted that illiteracy has been one of the great causes of political ignorance in European democracies, according to the thesis of Esther Yolanda and Percy Simon of the University of Piura in Peru, illiteracy leads to the marginalization of people because it does not know what their rights and obligations are, and also limits their cognitive development. This results in two incapacities for the voter, the first is that he does not know if he can vote and the second is that he does not discern in a logical and reasoned way the arguments presented to him by the different political groups. Another fact to comment is that said illiteracy was mainly caused by the inaction of governments at that time due to political-economic factors, because firstly, maintaining an illiterate society managed to freeze the development of ideologies opposed to oligarchic interests and secondly, between the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century Europe was at the height of the Industrial Revolution, since in this process of industrialization it was not convenient to educate children in order to be exploited in factories. Despite attempts to maintain this reality, illiteracy was combated by the development of the labour movement, which was guided by progressive intellectuals such as Karl Marx.

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