As a younger person, I found it mystifying that an advanced, educated German population in the 1930s could be duped into allowing themselves and others to be sacrificed for the "good" of the group, the collective, the state. Then I learned about Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, Frederich Nietzsche and Martin Heidigger, the philosophers whose theories were used by demagogues to justify genocide and oppress a willing and docile population that had been conditioned by the intelligencia into rejecting the evidence of their own minds and blindly following evil people down the path of aggression and tyranny. Stephen Hicks has an excellent DVD, Nietzsche and the Nazis, about how this historic tragedy developed.
John Tate has written a succinct and readable summary of Kant's core premises. Check it out. You will detect the familiar ring of the relativism and the self doubt that plagues the humanities, political science and journalism departments of many of today's institutions of "higher" learning. These notions, which have been advanced, refined and blended with the ideas of Rousseau, have permeated the main stream media and, through them, the less educated population who, it appears, represent the majority of voters. Of those who recognize the origins of such distortions of reality, few stand up and speak out against the assault on common sense.
For more, read David Kelley's Evidence of the Senses and Stephen Hicks' Explaining Postmodernism.
A country populated by people who doubt their own minds and believe that one morality is just as good as any other will be easily (mis)led by power hungry and avaricious men who, while pretending morality, care nothing about it.
More important to the advancement of civilization than the current economic crisis (although largely responsible for it) is the crisis of philosophy. The conventional wisdom that philosophy is for impractical people with their heads in the stratosphere is a myth. If you want to consider yourself educated, you need to understand and adopt a philosophy. Develop a conviction, progressively, about what is real (metaphysics), the validity of your knowledge (epistemology), how to reason (logic), what is right and what is wrong (ethics), and how to live with other people in a mutually beneficial society (politics).