Indeed. As a society (and particularly in certain segments of our society) we seem to have forgotten the tried and true wisdom of Matthew 7:20. Advocates insist that previous failures are not indicative of future performance, and that their pet theory or program get one more chance.
Let’s take the single most glaring case of this: Communism.
Communism, as practiced in Russia, Cambodia, China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam during the 20th Century, has resulted in the deaths of more human beings than all other forms and theories of government combined. The other child of the Progressives (via the Socialists), National Socialism, finishes a distant second by two orders of magnitude.
But more importantly, it comes out of the fact that, during this
century, intellectualism failed, and everyone knows it. In places like
Russia and Germany, the common people agreed to loosen their grip on
traditional folkways, mores, and religion, and let the intellectuals run
with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century
into an abbatoir. Those wordy intellectuals used to be merely tedious;
now they seem kind of dangerous as well.
We Americans are the only ones who didn’t get creamed at some point
during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited
political and values systems fabricated by a particular set of
eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we
have lost touch with those intellectuals, and with anything like
intellectualism, even to the point of not reading books any more, though
we are literate.
In the Beginning was the Command Line, p53
The proof that we have not learned this lesson is embedded in our education system. The terms “Campus Communist” and “Marxist Professor” should be functional transliterations of “Campus Nazi” and “Fascist Professor.” The fruits of all these philosophies are known, and they are all pure poison to human life, freedom, and dignity. To the extent that these words are not synonymous, when those same institutions of “education” insist that the fruits of “dead white men” (more than two centuries of unparalleled freedom and prosperity) should be discarded in order to give Communism “one more chance,” we are refusing to learn the lessons of our last century of history.
]]>< ![CDATA[This insanity must end. The "modern intellectualism" (which linked article I now quote from for the remainder of this piece with commentary interspersed) must be held to account.
Part of the problem is that the American distrust of intellectualism is itself not the irrational thing that those sympathetic to intellectuals
would like to think. Intellectuals killed by the millions in the 20th century, and it
actually takes the sophisticated training of “education” to work
yourself up into a state where you refuse to count that in the books.
it does. Based on those fruits, the ability to ignore history and the
factual case in favor of a theory never borne out, indicates that the
“education” provided is no such thing, what it is is “indoctrination.”
Intellectuals routinely declared things that aren’t true;
catastrophically wrong predictions about the economy, catastrophically
wrong pronouncements about foreign policy, and just generally numerous
times where they’ve been wrong. Again, it takes a lot of training to ignore
this fact. “Scientists” collectively were witnessed by the public
flipflopping at a relatively high frequency on numerous topics; how many
times did eggs go back and forth between being deadly and beneficial?
Sure the media gets some blame here but the scientists played into it,
each time confidently pronouncing that this time they had it for sure
and it is imperative that everyone live the way they are saying (until
It’s an impending Ice Age. It’s global warming. No, wait, it’s climate change… What this really is is folks repeatedly talking out their asses, yet we’re not supposed to notice that.
have failed to resist politicization across the board, and the
standards of what constitutes science continues to shift from a living,
vibrant, thoughtful understanding of the purposes and
ways of science to a scelerotic hide-bound form-over-substance version
of science where papers are too often written to either explicitly
attract grants or to confirm someone’s political beliefs… and
regardless of whether this is 2% or 80% of the papers written today it’s
nearly 100% of the papers that people hear about.
Not to mention the growing trend of scientific and other papers to lead with “Executive Summaries” or other summations which are not supported by, or which are factually disproved by, the bodies of those publications.
simplify for rhetorical effect; my point is not that this is a literal
description of the current state of the world but that it is far more true
than it should be. Any accounting of “anti-intellectualism” that fails
to take this into account and lays all the blame on “Americans” is too
incomplete to formulate an action plan that will have any chance of
success. It’s not a one-sided problem.
Actually, it is a rather one sided problem. The “Anti-Intellectualism” is the entirely predictable response to a self selected elite who have failed to apply rigor to their own work and predictions. The “non-intellectuals” have been observing the fruits of these self appointed “intellectuals” and they are not impressed. Nor should they, or we, be.
you want to fix anti-intellectualism, you first need to fix
intellectualism and return it to its roots of dispassionate exploration,
commitment to truth over all else and bending processes to find truth
rather than bending truth to fit (politicized) processes, and return to
great, foundational humility that even the press could not overplay into
hubris. And they need to drop their blinders whereby they excuse away
the damage that intellectuals have done while ignoring these ancient
precepts and only crediting themselves their successes, because it cuts
themselves off from the very object lessons that could help them return
to this time-tested approach to science, which they still flatter
themselves that they follow. If you fail to fix the intellectuals first,
then all your effort to fix “Americans” is going to fail; you’ll bend
your efforts towards getting them to look at intellectuals seriously,
but they’ll end up coming to the same conclusions they already have
about the value of intellectuals and you’ll have wasted your shot.
What value? The term “Intellectual” is in grave, and well deserved danger, of emulating “Awful.”
Inspired by and expanded upon from Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds
Update: See also Victor Davis Hansen’s Kingdom of Lies
After the First World War, American writers and scholars had the chance to go to Europe in large numbers for the first time. They got an eyeful of the Intellectual up close. That sneer, that high-minded aloofness from the mob, those long immaculate alabaster forefingers with which they pointed down at the rubble of a botched civilization-it was irresistible. The only problem was that when our neophyte intellectuals came back to the United States to strike the pose, there was no rubble to point at. Far from being a civilization in ruins, the United States had emerged from the war as the new star occupying the center of the world stage. Far from reeking of decadence, the United States had the glow of a young giant: brave, robust, innocent and unsophisticated.
But young scribblers roaring drunk (as Nietzsche had predicted) on skepticism, cynicism, irony, and contempt were in no mood to let such … circumstances … stand in the way. From the very outset the attempts of this country cousin, the American intellectual, to catch up with his urbane European model was touching, as only the strivings of a colonial subject can be. Throughout the twentieth century, the picture would never change (and today, a hundred years later, the sweaty little colonial still trots along at the heels of… sahib). In the 1920s the first job was to catch up with the European intellectuals’ mockery of the “bourgeoisie,” which had begun a full forty years earlier. H. L. Mencken, probably the most brilliant American essayist of the twentieth century, led the way by pie-ing the American version of same with his term: “the booboisie.” In fiction the solution was to pull back the covers from this apple-cheeked, mom’s-cooking country of ours and say, “There! Take a good look at what’s underneath! Get a whiff of the rot just below the surface!”-the way Sinclair Lewis did it in Main Street and Babbitt, for which he became the first American to win the Nobel Prize in literature, and Sherwood Anderson did it in Winesburg, Ohio. Anderson’s specialty was exposing the Middle American hypocrite, such as the rigidly proper, sexually twisted Peeping Tom midwestern preacher. He created a stock character and a stock plot that others have been laboriously cranking out ever since in books, TV, and movies, from Peyton Place to American Beauty.
Somehow, I believe we, as a nation, can do quite well without such self anointed “intellectuals.”
Ah, there’s even a nice rejoinder to one of our troll’s assertions in re the socialist roots of fascism and the Nazi’s in Wolfe’s essay (which predates Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, for those keeping score):
“Fascism” was, in fact, a Marxist coinage. Marxists borrowed the name of Mussolini’s Italian party, the Fascisti, and applied it to Hitler’s Nazis, adroitly papering over the fact that the Nazis, like Marxism’s standard-bearers, the Soviet Communists, were revolutionary socialists. In fact, “Nazi” was (most annoyingly) shorthand for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. European Marxists successfully put over the idea that Nazism was the brutal, decadent last gasp of “capitalism.” Few of their colonial cousins in America became doctrinaire, catechism-drilled Marxists, but most were soon enveloped in a heavy Marxist mist. The Marxist fable of the “capitalists” and the “bourgeoisie” oppressing “the masses” – “the proletariat”-took hold even among intellectuals who were anti-Marxist. Prior to the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, the American Communist Party had great success mobilizing the colonials on behalf of “anti-fascist” causes such as the Loyalists’ battle against the “fascist” Franco in the Spanish Civil War. “Anti-fascism” became a universal ray gun, good for zapping anybody, anywhere, from up here … on the intellectuals’ Everest of Indignation.
And Mr. Wolfe even provides a most fitting parthian shot:
It’s a simple business, at bottom. All the intellectual wants, in his heart of hearts, is to hold on to what was magically given to him one shining moment a century ago. He asks for nothing more than to remain aloof, removed, as Revel once put it, from the mob, the philistines . . . “the middle class.”
Given what our intellectuals have wrought, they’ve made the mob and the philistines look good in comparison, a noteworthy, though not praiseworthy, accomplishment.