Over the last two months, I have been aggressively reading and note-taking in preparation for the assembly of my book on Italian Fascism. As I worked through a section last night concerning the welfare policies of the state, I was struck by something embodied in the situation: the book used as a reference was first published in 1936, and few copies are still available. To the average American reader, it practically doesn’t exist.
This issue is far more prominent than people can begin to imagine. The only reason I stumbled upon the book in the first place was my university library, which is larger and older than that of the previous college I attended. Even after that point, it was only on account of my shelling out some shekels that I secured a personal copy on AbeBooks. In many other cases, I would never have figured out how access the text because of its mystery.
And indeed the record shows truth. Prior to entering college, I wrote a piece about the Fascist policy of Corporatism, castigating it for creating poverty, and attempting linkage with the Wall Street goonism in our own country. Of course I had no idea what corporatism entailed, or how it came to be under Fascism; I simply followed the popular interpretation of libertarian louts and progressives peons. I mean, what else was there to do?
Herein rests the epic problem of our society: the sources which can change hearts are almost always unheard of, or at least locked behind the secure door of financial declarations. One rather short book I purchased for my project cost twenty-five bucks, all so I could have a couple of citations otherwise unavailable on the Internet dot com. Like the other piece, I only knew about it because I was in proximity to the right place.
Thus we are left with a situation where most people interested in knowledge have to rely on Google, which never manipulates results or suppresses what they don’t agree with. Or perhaps spit some dollars for a JSTOR subscription to access primary sources. Apart from that, it’s whatever comes up on the Bing click or the shanty offerings in your local library. As if that is all the knowledge you need.
What a scary thought. Entire generations of the mind shaped by a selective sieve of the empowered and well-meaning who run our technology and political organizations. This is the ultimate state of modern humanity, after supposed years of evolution.
I suppose I’ll get back to my research now, and hopefully at some point, remember to forget.