Published in Issue 261 of The Black Commentator on January 24, 2008
By Larry Pinkney

More than ever, the time is here to think in-depth and critically. At stake is everything.

Perhaps one of the most revolutionary activities in which we Black Americans can presently engage is to be consistent and active critical thinkers. It is imperative that Black Americans and our Brown and Red sisters and brothers, in concert with all politically conscious people of good will, not allow ourselves to fall prey to lethargy and superficiality.

The systemic superficiality of the corporate power elite of the US and its allies is no accident. It is intentional. A people who are both informed and think critically cannot easily be controlled or manipulated. Thus, it is of paramount importance to the corporate so-called news media to ensure that the information it presents to the public remains both superficial and often, highly inaccurate.

Critically thinkers insist upon not only gaining information but also seriously examining and analyzing it. Too often, people are uncritical receivers and accepters of information that, upon closer examination, is not only superficial and inaccurate but also utterly lacking in common sense. Critical thinking and analysis is what I refer to as the politics of unfettered thought. It is feared by the power elite but is absolutely an essential part of the struggle for economic, social, and political equality for people in America and around the world.

Despite the enormous power and influence of the corporate power elite and their concomitant “news and information” media, active critical thinkers can, should and often do pose a major problem for those who utilize superficial and inaccurate information to manipulate and control the majority of people. It is increasingly crucial for people to be discerning and disdainful of accepting superficial information as being truth or fact.

The 21st century, with all its many ways of disseminating information, has done precious little to encourage people to think critically and in-depth. In fact, the dissemination of information has been largely conglomerated into the hands of a relatively elite few, and is more accurately described as the dissemination of misinformation to the masses of people. The control of television, radio, newspapers, and magazines remain essentially the domain of big, multinational corporations who, in reality, fear critical thinkers.

Change, if it is real, is not merely superficial. Likewise, critical thinking, if it is real, is precisely the opposite of superficiality. Thus, those who claim to represent real “change” but deprecate structural / systemic change are actually using rhetorical superficiality in an attempt to mask the same old manipulation of the people. In other words, they are attempting to fool the people.

The ability to be critical thinkers is a gift that we Black, Brown, and Red peoples must never overlook or negate. Becoming and remaining active critical thinkers is another important component of keeping our struggle real, while simultaneously working in conjunction with that part of humanity, which like ourselves, has grasped that critical thinking is beyond being important – and is essential to our very survival.

Larry Pinkney is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities, Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, and more recently on the nationally syndicated Alex Jones Show. Pinkney is a former university instructor of political science and international relations, and his writings have been published in various places, including The Boston Globe, San Francisco BayView newspaper, Black Commentator, Intrepid Report, Global Research (Canada), LINKE ZEITUNG (Germany), 107 Cowgate (Ireland and Scotland), and Mayihlome News (Azania/South Africa). He is in the archives of Dr. Huey P. Newton (Stanford University, CA), cofounder of the Black Panther Party. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.)


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