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IGNORANCE IN POLITCS AND WAR: A HISTORIAN'S VIEW


SPEAKER:

Ulick Peter Burke is a British historian and professor. Burke is celebrated as a historian not only of the early modern era, but one who emphasizes the relevance of social and cultural history to modern issues.

Prof. Burke is not only known for his work on the Modern Age but also for his research on cultural history across its entire spectrum.In 1998, he was awarded the Erasmus Medal of the European Academy, and is an honorary doctorate from the Universities of Lund, Copenhagen and Bucharest.


SYNOPSIS:

“Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their dupes, but which no

democracy can afford among its citizens.”


This befitting statement made by British Economist, William Beveridge makes a point for not

only how Hitler could propagate Nazi ideology in the 1920s and 1930s, but also for America’s

nuclear blunder in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.


Historically, humans have been obstinately ignorant - evident from the ancient belief that the

world was flat, ostracizing and sometimes even executing anyone who contradicted this belief.

What keeps ignorance alive and makes it a part of a knowledge system is embedded in culture,

history, and political geography.


The influence of the media, corporations, and governmental agencies; through secrecy and

suppression of information, document destruction, and selective memory, consequently

become tools for articulated ignorance that authoritarian regimes, and sometimes

unfortunately even democratic ones, use to their benefit, especially for electoral campaigning

by tapping into the Voters’ ignorant minds.


Passive tools for creating differential access to information could include structural information

bubbles, censorship, and cherry-picking of facts and figures.


Ignorance on the battlefield and in military operations treads a byzantine path, where the

balance in the dissemination of information, both to the enemy and to their own soldiers

becomes crucial. What theorists have called “Invincible Ignorance”, is a defense of morality

involving an inability to change or understand decisions- as a result of required obedience to

authority and inaccessibility of knowledge.


One might be ignorant enough to think that ‘ignorance in politics and war’ does not affect them

directly, failing to comprehend how nescience poses serious practical & political difficulties,

which often translates to failure in handling catastrophic disasters, apparent in the denial of the

existence of climate change by certain leaders.


Our opinions and choices decide who represents a nation at the national & international levels, and also dictate course of wars in a world threatened by complete nuclear annihilation due to the possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) with a global nuclear stockpile close to

13,000 weapons.


Therefore, we at Argumentative Indians, dip into this emerging discipline of Ignorance studies.


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DISCLAIMER:

We invite thought leaders from across the ideological spectrum. The guests in our sessions express their independent views and opinions. Argumentative Indians do not profess to subscribe, agree or endorse the same or be in any way responsible for the stance, words, and comments of our guests.

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