Thus, as mentioned in the previous blog post, the state is responsible for the fostering of stereotypes, and the state does this without considering the long-term consequences of such actions. Thus, the state’s actions are in essence negligent and reckless. And in addition to bringing the term “stereotype” into the American lexicon, Walter Lippmann gave us an idea as to what some of the long-term consequences of these state actions are, when he wrote:
“The system of stereotypes may be the core of our personal tradition, the defenses of our position in society. They may not be a complete picture of the world, but they are a picture of a possible world to which we are adapted. In that world people and things have their well-known places, and do certain expected things. We feel at home there. No wonder, then, that any disturbance of the stereotypes seems like an attack upon the Foundations of the universe. [The pattern of stereotypes] is the projection upon the world of our own sense of our own value, our own position, and our own rights. The stereotypes are, therefore, highly charged with the feelings that are attached to them. They are the fortress of our tradition, and behind its defense we can continue to feel ourselves safe in positions we occupy.”
Brainwashing and conditioning are thus some of the means by which stereotypes become entrenched in a group and in society. Perhaps the demographic or group which is most susceptible to brainwashing and conditioning is the youth in any given society. Youth equates to inexperience, and inexperience means being unaware of the reality and truth behind certain economic, political, and social issues. Thus, due to inexperience, political action and understanding at a young age is flawed more often than not. As Aristotle said:
“Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these and are about these; and, further, since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether he is young in years or youthful in character; the defect does not depend on time, but on his living, and pursuing each successive object, as passion directs. For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit; but to those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle, knowledge about such matters will be of great benefit.”
Moreover, one is most susceptible to the machinations of the state when one is least rational and is confounded by passions rather than being guided by experience and knowledge. Music and sports were major features of my youth. Yet, when one is indulging most in enjoyment and passions – namely, during youth – that is when one is most susceptible to the machinations of the state. As I mentioned before, I was being actively recruited and vetted by the military in high school. In college, I was one of only twenty students to be selected for a CIA simulation exercise. And in grad school, I was approached by a “think tank,” which was obviously a front organization for state intelligence to do work on Afghanistan.
But with experience and knowledge, you end up warding off the machinations of the state. During and after my book project – which began shortly after finishing grad school – and now as I am blogging, I have not been approached by the state. Almost literally, experience and knowledge are antidotes for the machinations of the state. But at times, the state knows the individual better than the individual knows him or herself. This became evident to me overtime, and when I reflect on the manner by which I was approached by the state during high school, college, and grad school.