Review: Voltaire’s Bastards–The Dictatorship of Reason in the West

4 Star, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Information Operations, Information Society, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Misinformation & Propaganda, Science & Politics of Science

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Going But the Deeper Thinking is Worth It,

September 22, 2001
John Ralston Saul

There is much in this book, depending on one’s particular interests, that can be skimmed or skipped. With patience, however, the book in its entirety is a rewarding experience for it calls into question much about how we organize ourselves politically, economically, and socially.
The bottom line, and very consistently with other great books such as “The Manufacture of Evil” on the low end and “Consilience” on the high end, is that Western thinking has been corrupted to the point that the West has become, as the inside flap says, “a vast, incomprehensible directionless machine, run by process-minded experts….whose cult of scientific management is bereft of both sense and morality.”
As my own interests run toward public intelligence and public effectiveness in guiding the polity, I found his several chapters related to secrecy, immorality, and the “hijacking of capitalism” to be especially worthwhile.
He concludes that secrecy is pathological, undermining both public confidence and the public dialog. Intelligence in his view is about disseminated knowledge, not secrets.
Throughout the book the author discusses the contest between those who feel that the people cannot be trusted–the elites who strive to remain in power by making power appear an arcane skill with rites and formulas beyond the ken of the people–and those who feels that the people–and especially the larger consciousness of the people–are more in touch with nature and reality and the needs of the people than these elites.
This is a difficult book to absorb and enjoy, but I recommend because it sets the broad outlines for the real power struggle in the 21st Century–not between terrorism and capitalism, but rather between the government-corporate elites with their own agenda, and the larger body of people now possibly ready to turn every organization into an employee-owned and managed activity.

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