Who is the strongest today? Is he militarily strong? Or the rich in his wealth? Or the one who has a firm faith and belief? Or the bad guys who do not know the morals?
The concept of power, like any other concept, takes on a different meaning in each era. In the past, man triumphed over animals because he was the most intelligent and able to use his mind. Then he won the humanitarian wars – humanity who was more physically strong and able to train with weapons. Within society, the sources of power ranged from the asabiyyah, where the royal families and major tribes appeared, and, after that, the owners and merchants class appeared as an active class in history.
However, modern times have brought us a different concept of power based on that the most important force is the power of knowledge.
The one who possesses knowledge, high scientific institutions and scientific research centers is the strongest. In addition, the power of knowledge over people’s minds and conscience is stronger than the power that military and economic power gives us.
Therefore, the struggle for knowledge, or the pronouncement of its name, is almost one of the most important conflicts that humans have fought throughout their long history. (The struggle of Socrates and the Greek clergy, Galileo’s struggle with the Church …) Knowledge conceals within it a political and social power that gives its owner a prominent position and an effective force in society. This is the case for scholars, thinkers, and intellectuals who realized the power of knowledge that they carry, so they turned into partners in political power and cognitive actors in major historical political battles.
Myths, philosophies, ideologies, and political ideas about democracy, secularism, property, and even modern sciences emerged in the context of the struggle to possess speaking in the name of true knowledge. Knowledge was never innocent, neutral or objective, looking for the truth just for the sake of truth. Rather, the truth itself was not a neutral concept, because each group wanted to impose the truth that suits it and harmonizes with its interests, realizing by everyone that knowledge is The ideological and moral cover for conflicts of interests and influence.
Examples of cognitive conflicts abound. The conflict that took place in Europe during the Middle Ages, between the Church that says the sun revolves around the earth at the time, and the great scientist Galileo, who used to say that the earth revolves around the sun, was not a purely epistemic conflict, but rather a political struggle, because each side wanted to impose its authority. To society, regardless of the content of what it says, and because the church was refusing to let modern science take its high political position.
If knowledge in general is the most important means of possessing power, then those working in the various fields of knowledge, including: intellectuals, scientists, thinkers, researchers, writers, artists … etc., are not completely innocent of the equations of power and hegemony, because these are composed in order to exert some influence on the souls of Who compose them.
Thought, whether it is right-wing or left-wing, modernist or traditional, and literature, whether committed or non-committed, and poetry, whether its subject is the homeland or the eyes of a beautiful girl, all this knowledge wants to impose on others her truth and vision and to exercise a certain authority that makes her able to direct public opinion and awareness People in society, whether they are culturally, ideological or social, are indirect or conscious. Knowledge works in a subtle and hidden way, and imposes its visions and interests without anyone feeling these visions and interests, because its power is the kind of soft power that seeps into our existence and mind without us feeling it.
Today, the contemporary world is experiencing unprecedented cognitive struggles. After the conflict between myths and philosophies in ancient times, and the struggle between science and the Christian religious classes in the Middle Ages, today serious conflicts of a different kind have emerged. Among the most important of these conflicts is what is called today the “clash of civilizations,” and this imaginary conflict is a model proposed by Huntington in the 1990s for the future relationship between civilizations that exist today, and concludes in it that all contemporary civilizations will fight Islamic civilization because it is, according to what he sees, aggression towards the other. And don’t accept it, whoever this is. Therefore, common denominators can be found among all civilizations except the Islamic civilization, which must be trained in civilization, civil life and democracy, even if this leads to the exercise of military force against it.
This shows us how military and economic power cannot play and exercise any effective role, except through epistemological theories, which make colonial ends a humanitarian and moral message that millions of people believe they fulfill with pride and pride.
The mechanisms through which knowledge exercises a large role are countless, there are: creating illusory goals, establishing imaginary glories, inventing supposed enemies, passing on interests through humanitarian or religious slogans, carrying out imaginary heroism … etc.
Therefore knowledge was never moral, because it gives its owners the power and the ability to control. Historically, power has never known morality, meaning that power does not focus only on the interests and rights of its owners, and it is never concerned with the interests and rights of others. Therefore, we find that the powerful do not care about concepts of justice and truth except to the extent that these concepts serve their interests and goals. This is a game played by all the powerful throughout history without exception.
The slogans of the French Revolution about justice, freedom and equality did not prevent it from colonizing the peoples of Asia and Africa, and the glamorous socialist slogans did not prevent the political regimes in the East and West from transforming these slogans into a tool of oppression and impoverishment, even in the poorest countries.
As such, knowledge remains one of the most important sources of strength. They are inexhaustible, just as the sources of natural energy will be depleted one day, and they are a means of power cheaper than the means of military force, and their effect is stronger than any military force. And what prompted the German philosopher Nietzsche to say: Knowledge is power.
Knowledge and reason make you strong, meaning that they enable you to know everything that is going on around you, and guide you to the principles and laws according to which the phenomena of nature, the events of history, the secrets of politics and the change of societies, this means that you will be safe from others deceiving you, and aware of the results of your actions and the actions of others, even before they do them . Knowledge and reason protect you from falling into the ropes of sectarianism or the illusions of national, religious and tribal fanaticism, just as they prevent you from being hypocritical or immoral, that is, it preserves your mental dignity and keeps you from being a mere tool in the hands of others.
Come let’s practice thinking about discovering the interests underlying the knowledge we are sharing. This is half the truth.
Dr.. Rashid Hajj Saleh