The Hazards of One-way Communication and What to Do about Them

An excerpt from The Sociobiology of Liberty

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. –Lao Tzu

When one of our small-group ancestors saw another’s face, unless the second ancestor was blind, the seeing of faces was mutual. This “mutual seeing” results in “two-way communication.” But today there are folks who haven’t ever seen your face at all, yet you may still feel you know them face-to-face – – – because you have seen their faces.

TV news readers such as Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, etc. are early 21st Century examples, as are movie stars and other “celebrities.” Taylor Swift? AND, especially politicians.

While they’ve never seen our face, we see theirs regularly on TV, newscasts, movies, podcasts, in the newspapers, etc.. This results in one-way communication — them to us. Affiliation that happens as a result of such one-way communication has quite interesting side-effects – – - Blood Money: Why the P... Schweizer, Peter Best Price: $12.78 Buy New $12.90 (as of 02:22 UTC - Details)

During the evolution of our ancestral small-groups — 30 folks all in the same place at the same time was a large gathering — there was no writing so nearly all of their communication was face-to-face and in-the-moment. This meant that face-to-face responses were always possible and expected, even if just an acknowledgement that the previous message had arrived.

Further, except temporarily in emergencies or coordinated activities such as a hunt, there was no permanent chain-of-command or even meaningful hierarchical rank to block originations, corrections, or other responses.

Even in tribal meets, everyone who wished-to could speak or else, even in the case of a war council, co-ordinated action wasn’t going to happen. Our Native Americans carried this natural base-line mode of “open-mic” social organization to it’s logical conclusion – – –

“People [native Americans] who do not vote for an issue — whether they abstain or vote against it — often resent having to abide by it and insist that they should not be affected by the final decision since they did not themselves affirm it. A number of Indian groups — such as the Hopis here in the Southwest — are still divided over the issue of their constitution, those who voted against it or who did not participate in the constitutional election, insisting that they should not be bound by the vote of the others.” –James E. Officer, Journal of American Indian Education, Volume 3 Number 1, October 1963, INFORMAL POWER STRUCTURES WITHIN, INDIAN COMMUNITIES

This mode of social organization, depending on multi-way communication, is still practiced elsewhere as, for example, Quaker Process,” etc.

And even some of our early American thinkers understood the logic – – –

“The [U.S.] Constitution has no inherent authority or obligation. …It purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago. [This tract was published in 1870, 82 years after the U.S. Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788. -lrw] And it can be supposed to have been a contract then only between persons who had already come to years of discretion, so as to be competent to make reasonable and obligatory contracts. Furthermore, …only a small portion even of the people then existing were consulted on the subject, or asked, or permitted to express either their consent or dissent in any formal manner. Those persons…are all dead now. …their contract, died with them. They had no natural power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. –Lysander Spooner, The Constitution of No Authority

The now well-known Amish tradition of Rumspringa recognizes and rather nicely handles the matter.

So, among our small-group ancestors, regardless of the situation, two-way communication — a message and a response to it (and so-forth) — was expected and nearly always possible.

By contrast in the modern world, especially because of Information Technology (IT), one-way communication, which we have no natural defense against, has become common, normalized, and accepted.

One-way communication happens when someone speaks to you but you are unable — or aren’t allowed — to answer back — or your ability to reply is limited. A news commentator or other video source for example — or listening to a lecturer on-stage, online, or on the radio. And, for example – – –

Don’t you talk-back to me! -Your parent

While it obviously has important uses, keep in mind, this expansion and extreme evolution of one-way communication — and especially its political use — is anthropologically quite recent.

A good marker for when it began to really invade our lives was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s use of his “Fireside Chats” during the banker/government caused “Great Depression.”

It was noted that, “these chats were the first time the people had a sense that they knew their president.” – – –

“I never saw him-but I knew him. Can you have forgotten how, with his voice, he came into our house, the President of these United States, calling us friends…” –Carl Cramer, April 14, 1945

“[A]s you know, these are open forums, you’re able to come and listen to what I have to say.” –U.S. President George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2003

On the other hand – – –

“It’s only been a little more than 100 years since most people lived their entire lives without any contact with — or need of — government.” –Neal Wright from rural British Columbia, 2003

Today, it’s more than politicians. It’s common these days for fans to address their favorite characters by their first names as if they were part of their micro-cosmos family.

While one-way communication makes sense in certain situations — an emergency where quick response is necessary and only one person knows the big picture. Or, say, a respected instructor addressing multiple folks, all there voluntarily, and all at once to pass-on solid information and thus save time. But when it becomes embedded and blindly accepted, as it has been in modern cultures, it often has decidedly negative results.

The base line danger is that when you know, non-consciously or otherwise, that you can’t respond, you tend not to formulate a verbal response which usually means you don’t even formulate an internal mental response either. The result is you neither add enhancements to the topic from your own knowledge, realize alternatives, nor recognize the source’s mistakes or hidden agendas.

You become a passive receiver. You’re likely to accept what you hear at face value without critical examination. Thus you and everyone else involved often end up with a less than robust, possibly incorrect, and maybe detrimental understanding of things.

In the strictist sense, when response is difficult or impossible, often through no fault of the source, nonetheless, the result is the same as out-and-out censorship. Or worse.

“…the peculiar evil of silencing an opinion is that it is robbing the human race;… If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose… the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” –John Stuart Mill

AND, especially when you don’t do your own thinking, in a sense, you’re being controlled by the speaker in various subtle and not-so-subtle ways. To some extent, knowingly or not, you become a minion of the speaker and/or hir presentation. And sometimes a tool of his/her/etc agenda.

Over time, you develop the habit of no longer thinking for yourself.

That’s also the purpose of military “Basic Training.

Think “lemming.”

The potential for serious abuse, especially in political contexts, is humongous.

American Culture has gone to great lengths to condition you to blindly accept one-way communication. Government-form schools are the most glaring examples.

The implausible cover-story for U.S. Government schools is that you might some day need some of the massive over-provision of likely useless information they subject you to for thirteen years. The usually unstated idea is that you’ll remember what they tried to teach you in usable form, years or decades later.

For efficient information transfer and use, that thirteen years is a monumental waste of student time and taxpayer money. Dr. Mercola Organic Bo... Buy New $36.97 ($0.41 / Count) (as of 02:22 UTC - Details)

The real purpose of those thirteen wasted years of “compulsory education” — mostly one-way communication from “teachers” — is accomplished by the “hidden curriculum” as explained by multiple times teacher-of-the-year John Taylor Gatto in his aptly entitled, Dumbing Us Down.

The 19th Century Prussian–evolved plan, imported into America around the turn of the 20th Century, is to transform our free-thinking children into good little “human resources” who will always follow one-way communication (orders) without hesitation — and will stop thinking for themselves.

Frederick the Great and the Prussian elite determined this was necessary to turn their kids into effective cannon-fodder so they wouldn’t lose the next war with Napoleon. I’m not making that up. And “we” adopted it.

That’s why it’s always healthy to talk-back to sources of one-way communication — you know, broadcasts from your flat-screen or device for example — and a good idea to develop that as a habit. Especially in case of political speeches.

If anyone challenges you on that, just refer them to this article.

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