Political literacy is more important than technological literacy – without it, democracy and freedom are a sham.
It can be easier to stand up to police harassment, bureaucratic abuses or corruption or workplace abuse, when you know your rights and the law. Likewise, political literacy is vital as a tool of defence, conversation, and organisation against a sexist, racist, and classist world with barbaric inequality, genocide-levels of poverty (9 million people die each year from hunger), and a business class that does whatever it wants with the planet.
Not only would across-the-board political literacy elevate the levels of social media arguments to something vaguely factual and useful, but without political literacy, people are naked and vulnerable to manufactured fear (socialists and refugees are going to kill you, eat your children, and take your jobs), and more likely to be sexist, racist, and classist.
Political literacy enables us to question and analyse the lies and manipulation we’re force fed through advertising, entertainment, and the media. It helps us to understand the world we live in, and to criticise that world.
Knowing how power works, who has it, who has more influence on the economy, why certain types of people have more influence, why sexism exists, where racism comes from, how inequality is spread – better equips us to understand and talk about what is happening to us on a daily basis, what is happening in the news, why we haven’t got that promotion, and why less Aboriginal kids get into university.
Without across the board political literacy, democracy is a farse. Beyond the US’s dysfunctional electoral system that privileges those with power and money and leaves voters with a theatrical “choice” between two businesspeople, a general lack of political literacy in the population means people are excluded from national and local political discussion and decisions. It means most debates are rubbish and that people think they don’t want to participate in politics in the first place: that is, people think, and in reality are not qualified to take part in the basic forces that control their life, their right to healthcare, their access to water, their access to healthy food and non-toxic air. This obviously also applies to other so-called-democratic countries like here in Mexico, the UK, Australia, etc.
We can’t play soccer without knowing the rules and techniques, and we can’t be an active force in this world without the right to political literacy, critical thought, and creativity.