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December 8, 2014 / Fantelius

Magnificent Ignorance – Intro

Jonathan Schell asks, in an introduction to Nick Turse’s book Kill Anything That Moves, if it is possible after decades of talk and over 30,000 books to know basically nothing about the Vietnam War. He declares that such is the case.

Devastation, murder, massacre, rape and torture were parts of a ”continuous stream of atrocities” that gushed unnoticed out of the heart of the war. Single shocking events and isolated atrocities did appear exceptionally, but the extent and persistence of the horrors never penetrated the general ignorance. At least three million people were killed and many more injured in apocalyptic destruction executed by boys trained to act psychophathically on the ground, young men dropping cargos of death from the air, officers coordinating the logistics of annihilation from desks and rulers drooling with greed in boardrooms.

Lack of knowledge of the Vietnam War exemplifies magnificent Ignorance. For ignorance to be magnificent, it must be large, important and simple. Simple in the sense that common intelligence can shatter it.

Without the magnificent ignorance of the Vietnam War, the wars of today could not be conducted. Yet it occupies a low level of ignorance compared to the lack of knowledge about the nature of war itself. The entire history of humanity teaches us that war starts as an enterprise of conquest. No exceptions. War is, always has been and always will be started to capture resources, territory and control. Conquest. No other reason. A war of resistance against the aggressors is not the same thing. The nature of war could be taught in one day and equip a citizenry with the knowledge to see through any claim to start a war for any other reason. The ignorance of the nature of war conquers the prospects of peace and will, as long as it prevails, lead us down a path of destruction, suffering and death.

Schell implies that ignorance of Vietnam prevails despite 30,000 books and uncountable articles. The implication limps because ignorance grows and spreads as much by what is said as by what remains hidden. Information cannot be measured in quantity. The quality of information in Turse’s book for instance weighs heavier than thousands of other books together. Information is the source of knowledge, but the quantity of information no more guarantees substantial knowledge than a number of trees guarantee a substantial house. In this age of disinformation, particularly the kind spread by wannabe conquerors, magnificent ignorance doesn’t just happen, it’s produced.

This blog is an introduction to a series of blogs dealing with the magnificent ignorance of democracy, technology, language, humanity, society and other subjects. It requires no special knowledge or intelligence, but it’s not for dummies. The magnificent ignorance about information-knowledge-intelligence and dummies will also be dealt with.


Today’s slightly manipulated picture is a reminder that everything has at least two sides.
On the other side of the object containing the ”2” is a reminder
of one of the greatest examples of magnificent ignorance of modern times.
The ignorance is so great that I dare not mention it until the end of this series.


“The land of ignorance borders on the frontier of fear.”
Dartwill Aquila





Leave a Comment
  1. summitflyer / Dec 8 2014 2:44 pm

    Unfortunately ,for many ,they just don’t want to know .It is much too unsettling to know that your own country/army is capable of atrocities,when you see them as the good guys.

    • Fantelius / Dec 8 2014 2:52 pm

      So terribly true. Perhaps there’s hope in the discovery that “our” country/army has been conquered by moneyed enemies pretending to be “ours”. We are as much their enemies as our brothers and sisters in foreign countries.

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