|Joost A. M. Meerloo|
The paradox of universal literacy is that it may create a race of men and women who have become (just because of this new intellectual approach to life) much more receptive to the indoctrination of their teachers or leaders. Do we need conditioned adepts or freethinking students? Beyond this, our technical means of communication have caught up with our literacy. The eye that can read is immediately caught by advertising and propaganda. This is the tremendous dilemma of our epoch.When education does not encourage free expression and discussion of dissenting ideas, even modern technology can hasten the process of the mind being turned into totalitarian channels. In the chapter 12, “The Paradox of Technology,” Meerloo says:
The dangerous paradox in the boost of living standards is that in promoting ease, it promotes idleness, and laziness. If the mind is not prepared to fill leisure time with new challenges and new endeavours, new initiative and new activities, the mind falls asleep and becomes an automaton. The god Automation devours its own children. It can make highly specialized primitives out of us.
Just as we are gradually replacing human labour by machines, so we are gradually replacing the human brain by mechanical computers, and thus increasing man's sense of unworthiness. We begin to picture the mind itself as a computing machine, as a set of electrochemical impulses and actions. The brain is an organ of the body; its structure and its actions can be studied and examined. But the mind is a very different thing. It is not merely the sum of the physiological processes in the brain; it is the unique, creative aspect of the human personality.
Unless we watch ourselves, unless we become more aware of the serious problems our technology has brought us, our entire society could turn into a kind of super-automatized state. Any breakdown of moral awareness and of the individual's sense of his own worth makes all of us more vulnerable to mental coercion.