Thursday, May 04, 2006

Power not only corrupts...

It makes you stupid, too. As if any further proof were needed, a recent study shows that among Americans between 18 and 24 years old:
- 60% couldn't find Iraq on a map of the world
- 30% couldn't find Louisianna
- nearly 75% think English is the most widely-used language in the world
- 40% think Toronto is part of the United States
- 80% think Spain is in Latin America
- 75% couldn't find Israel on a map
- 95% think the U.S. has the best educational system in the world.

I made some of those up. Can you guess which? If ignorance is a necessary precondition of brutality (as I believe it to be) then the world's most violent nation is well-positioned to continue along that path. There should be no problem recruiting ignorant, self-righteous thugs to "defend freedom" in far-off lands.

Since power means being able to force the world to adapt to your ideas, while learning largely consists of adapting your ideas to the world, much of what power buys you is the dubious luxury of not having to learn.