The token “useless” degrees like that in literature or history or, my own personal choice of toilet paper, sociology are judged and mocked at being of no value to the person studying the subject or society at large. We need skills!, they say, Real skills to create jobs in this economy! Science and technology and health care and the trades! Those are all dignified careers to go into, for sure, for the sake of current needs and future potential. But what about the “useless” subjects?
No, they’re not – not currently dignified, although they should be given far more credit as crucial topics about which the general public needs to become more informed. The ambiguously comic and tragic levels of ignorance found in the “public discourse” reduced to the form of cable television lack proper knowledge or evidence of what they claim to be the way things have worked in the past, do work in the present, and should work in the future.
But where’s the evidence? What’s the context? What framework are these commentators using to come to their conclusions, and why do they think that is a better suited paradigm than the others? The evidence is often assumed to be either obvious or unnecessary, with no measured or empirically tested basis. The context is as clear to speaker and audience alike as our place in the Milky Way is to somebody who just stepped in dog shit. The framework they’re using is “THE TRUTH GODDAMMIT” in spite of the two previous factors lacking any solidity. Talking heads think they can speak for the implications for society because they’re a part of society and nobody needs a scholarly background for that.
Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. Even talking heads know that adage and say it when it suits their both narrow and shallow vision. Through thorough knowledge and perspective on the history of human civilizations through either physical evidence of events or creative works of context, and through critical understanding of how the present came to be and how it’s sustaining itself (with empirical evidence) we can see just what is bound to go wrong. That private interests don’t see much short-term economic gain in paying these well-trained minds further shows how short-lived this era is going to be – especially since they’re more than willing to pay talking heads to protest any public funding toward the common good. Why, these true hard-working citizens are merely providing the resources needed for the functioning of a sophisticated society – the spouting of natural gas.
It’s the engineers and tradespeople who will have to rebuild society after it crumbles. But it’s the historians, sociologists, and literary scholars who were saying “Yeah, uh, before you binge into a downward spiral of decadence and destruction…”