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The Intelligentsia, Intellectuals, and Other Idiots
Family Security Matters ^
| Jim O'Neill - Commentary
Posted on 03/05/2010 5:09:41 PM PST by smoothsailing
March 4, 2010
The Intelligentsia, Intellectuals, and Other Idiots
“Distinguished professors, gifted poets, and influential journalists [and academics, and politicians, and lawyers, and judges, and...] summoned their talents to convince all who would listen that modern tyrants were liberators and that their unconscionable crimes were noble.... Whoever takes it upon himself to write an honest intellectual history of twentieth-century Europe [and America] will need a strong stomach.” – Professor Mark Lilla, Columbia University, "The Reckless Mind"
“Calling [conservatives] defenders of the status quo is a triumph of verbal virtuosity over plain and demonstrable facts. That such a lazy way of evading critics should have prevailed unchallenged from the eighteenth century to the present, among those who consider themselves ‘thinking people,’ is a sobering sign of the power of a vision and rhetoric to shut down thought.” – Thomas Sowell from Intellectuals and Society
I'm reading Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society. He uses the term "verbal virtuosity" to describe the intelligentsia's use of misdirection, obfuscation, and outright lies. Because his book deals with left-wing intellectuals, he's called upon to use the term a lot.
Personally, I prefer the term "bulls--t," but out of regard for my readers sensibilities I will follow Mr. Sowell's lead, and use his term throughout this article.
Before we wade too deep into the verbal virtuosity, allow me to define some other terms, as used by Mr. Sowell.
"Intellect" is simply the capacity to think – there is, of course, high intellect, low intellect, and everything in between. "Intelligence" is the combination of intellect with good judgment. And finally, "wisdom" is the combination of intellect, judgment, knowledge, and experience.
Left-wing intellectuals have intellect in abundance – intelligence, not so much – and are notoriously lacking when it comes to wisdom.
So what do left-wing intellectuals, possessing fine intellects – but only rudimentary intelligence, and no wisdom – actually do? Well, they think a lot. They come up with ideas and "notions." The folks who "ooh" and "ah" at the notions that intellectuals arrive at, are called the "intelligentsia." The intelligentsia not only "ooh" and "ah," but they also try to introduce the intellectual's ideas into society at large.
The right-wing, of course, has its own intellectuals – notable examples being Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell himself. (By the way, Intellectuals and Society is not only very informative, but it's written with the lay reader in mind).
Because right-wing intellectuals generally introduce intelligence and wisdom into their ideas, they are fewer in number than the "dime a dozen" left-wing variety. Also, we should take into account the long-standing animosity toward conservatives in academia, and the press. All this has resulted in a plethora of left-wing intellectuals, and a relative dearth of right-wing intellectuals.
Given their greater numbers, when I refer to "intellectuals," and the "intelligentsia" from now on, I'm referring exclusively to the left-wing variety. The intelligentsia are those teachers, journalists, politicians, lawyers, judges, and "others who base their beliefs or actions on the ideas of intellectuals."
The intelligentsia does not chiefly consist of greedy, ruthless, power addicted idiots, nor radical, violent, asocial idiots, but mainly bleeding-heart "useful idiot" idiots.
Please don't make the mistake of confusing the intellectual's often impenetrable and Byzantine psuedo-logic for intelligent discourse. It is designed to cover up the fact that their puerile, narcissistic doctrines are based on nothing at all – as all atheistic philosophies ultimately are.
There can be no real meaning, in a purposeless universe, and there can be no purpose in a Godless universe. In the Far Left's universe, there are only ego games to play, while awaiting personal extinction. This is the main reason why they are so intent on fixing the "outside." Their "inside" remains untouched.
It's an old game. Jesus noted over two millennia ago, "You clean the outside of the cup...but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence."
Because intellectuals deal with abstract ideas, concerning abstract people, in an abstract world, their notions are lacking in any "real world" experience, constraints, or common sense. Consequently, intellectuals and the intelligentsia are renowned for the "unintended consequences" of their notions and actions.
"Sorry about wasting billions of the taxpayers’ dollars – oopsie." Actually the intelligentsia would never make such a remark, as they are infamous hypocrites, and never admit to doing anything so plebeian as making a mistake.
Intellectuals are professionals at covering up, minimizing, and denying their innumerable screw-ups, through the use of their finely honed talent for verbal virtuosity. The intelligentsia never hold intellectuals accountable for their mistakes.
As Eric Hoffer puts it, "One of the surprising privileges of intellectuals is that they are free to be scandalously asinine without harming their reputations."
It is less than good news that the Obama Administration has more intellectuals, and fewer folks with real world experience, than any other administration in U.S. history. May God help us all.
Perhaps the most dangerous element of the intellectual-intelligentsia circle is that no external criteria are brought into play. That is, the intellectuals get feedback about their notions, not from any "real world" consequences (like losing their job, status, or money), but from the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" of like-minded intelligentsia.
They march in lock-step groupthink – generally toward oblivion – which would be all fine and good, except for the fact that they have this penchant for taking everyone else with them.
They are convinced that they know what's best for us all, and if "we the people" need to be "bent, spindled, and mutilated" in order to get us in line – well, that's only because we're too dense to know what's good for us – so they think.
The fact that "we the people" are actually pretty darn sure of what's good for us, and it doesn't involve their lame-brained notions, doesn't compute with them. To their arrogant, utopia-addled minds, we simply just don't get it. But we do get it – they're idiots – we get that. Dangerous idiots.
As Sowell points out, "It is doubtful whether the most knowledgeable person on earth has even one percent of the total knowledge on earth, or even one percent of the consequential knowledge in a given society. There are many serious implications of this which may, among other things, help explain why so many leading intellectuals have so often backed notions that proved to be disastrous."
Because the intellectuals and intelligentsia have such a skewed and exalted view of their intelligence (which is minimal), and wisdom (which is non-existent), "they have often overlooked the crucial fact that the population at large ["we the people"] may have vastly more total knowledge...than the elites, even if that knowledge is scattered in individually unimpressive fragments among vast numbers of people."
In other words, "we the people" possess a type of real world "group consciousness," that is vastly superior at arriving at pragmatic solutions, then the abstract groupthink of the insulated, inexperienced, inbred intellectuals, and their followers.
Sowell continues, "If no one has even one percent of the knowledge currently available [not to mention the infinite amount of knowledge yet to be discovered], the imposition from the top down of the notions in favor among the elites, convinced of their own superior knowledge and virtue, is a formula for disaster."
What we're talking about here, is the collective wisdom culled from the experiences of many ("we the people"), versus the abstract assumptions of an arrogant few.
It really comes down to one of the key elements of wisdom – experience. "We the people" have it, and the intellectuals and intelligentsia do not. And without experience, you can't have good judgment (intelligence), let alone wisdom.
In short, the intellectuals and intelligentsia are generally dumber than dirt when it comes to any number of subjects – most infamously, the economy.
The intelligentsia often refer to government by the euphemism "society" – as in President Johnson's "Great Society" (read that as Johnson's "Great Big Government). Sowell notes that "what is called 'social' planning are in fact government orders over-riding the plans and mutual accommodations of millions of other people."
The intelligentsia dictate economic policy that is in line with their groupthink. They are generally morons when it comes to economics, but this doesn't deter them in the least. They are only peripherally affected by the economic blunders, disasters, and ruin they inflict on "we the people." They set themselves up to profit in any event.
They are quick to implement any policies that make them appear to be "on the side of the angels," no matter the "unintended consequences." Look at the current state of California's economy, if you wish to see the results of such willful blindness and hubris. Easier yet, check your wallet.
"We the people" are being financially squeezed in order to bail out Wall Street, the banks, large corporations, and other fat cats. At the other extreme, we're being made to pay for "entitlements" to the poor. The intelligentsia may call it "social justice – I call it legalized robbery. Basically, it's a government-run extortion racket – pay up or else.
Sowell calls this reckless behavior the "vision of the anointed" – self-anointed, to be sure. The anointed vision is largely based on Rousseau's idea of the "noble savage" who "was born free, and...is everywhere in chains." This ties in with the intelligentsia's idea of an egalitarian society, where everyone is equal.
The fact that such a society of "noble savages" has never been found, or that a totally egalitarian society has never existed, does little to dampen their enthusiasm for considering such societies as our natural state. They are convinced that it is only capitalism, and other such evil social institutions, which keep us from experiencing utopian bliss.
As Sowell points out, the empirical case for equality runs the gamut from "feeble to non-existent." Nonetheless, the anointed feel justified in their fantasies, because they are – in their own estimation if no one else's – all-knowing.
Opposing the vision of the anointed is what Sowell calls the "tragic" vision – tragic because it sees life as a constant struggle against the baser elements of human nature. He writes "...the tragic vision regards itself as something that requires constant great and constant efforts merely to be preserved -- with these efforts to be based on actual experience, not on 'exciting' new theories."
The tragic vision, which considers barbarism to be always waiting in the wings, and civilization to be a hard won, fragile prize to be protected, is the conservative vision.
It is a "constrained" vision, in that the acquired knowledge of the ages, and the collective experience of billions of people, past and present, shows that certain societal constraints are needed, in order to promote the most freedom, for the most people.
I can picture a good PR person taking Sowell aside, and saying something like, "Tommy, now don't take this the wrong way, but calling conservatives "The Party of Tragedy and Constraint," stinks on ice. It's not working for me; it sounds like a mortician's convention, for God's sake. We gotta lighten up here, and go big – think Super Bowl half-time!"
Just as an example – rather than the "anointed" vision versus the "tragic" vision, how about the "mature" vision versus the "immature" vision?
The intellectual's vision is certainly an immature one – complete with hissy fits when thwarted, and vociferous temper tantrums when denied wants. Their "vision" is one of lies, manipulation, self-indulgence, and duplicity. They remind me of nothing so much as Freud's spoiled King Baby – whose narcissistic demands make life miserable for all around them.
The conservative stance is the mature vision, it's the adult's vision. It champions self-responsible behavior, integrity, and choices based on a mature weighing of empirical evidence, versus wishful thinking.
Russell Kirk writes, "A people's historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers."
We don't need any more abstract solutions, for abstract people, with abstract problems, in an abstract world. "We the people" are real people, with real problems, in a real world, and we need real solutions.
The intelligentsia say that they're "on the side of the angels," but you know they lie. Intellectuals are responsible for some of the largest, most ruthless, and horrific episodes in recent human history – from the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, to Cambodia's Killing Fields. On the side of the angels? I think not.
Contrary to what the intelligentsia would have us believe, empirical studies have shown that it is conservatives, in fact, who are the most generous, giving people.
The intelligentsia claim that, although they are morally superior to conservatives, conservatives are, it must be admitted, at times, more adept at mundane financial matters. Gee, thanks.
Outside of the intelligentsia, I don't see anybody rushing to support their claim to moral high-ground – and what genius decided that fiscal responsibility is not a moral issue?
As if destroying the economic foundations of the middle-class is not morally reprehensible; or turning the poor into an entitled class of welfare drones, is not morally poisonous; or creating an economic elite, to rule over "we the people," is not morally vile. Fiscal responsibility is one of the most important moral issues in existence.
It's a jungle out there kiddies, and you had best believe that there are individuals, corporations, and governments, that would love nothing more than to take America down. Destroying us economically would suit them just fine.
Contrary to the view expressed by the intelligentsia, the United States of America faces far graver concerns, than whether or not we win the world's "Miss Congeniality" contest.
The intelligentsia would have us believe that conservatives are a reactionary force that protects the status quo, and puts the brakes on any forward progress. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Sowell notes in his quote at the beginning of this article, it is a lie that has been operative for at least the last two centuries. It's nothing but a big pile of intellectual – verbal virtuosity.
The idea that conservatives have done nothing more than resist the inevitable rising tide of Progressivism, is hogwash put out by the intelligentsia. The truth is, that forces in favor of a massive centralized government – a global regime – have been slowly eroding the freedoms, virtues, and principles that conservatives defend.
It is these very freedoms, virtues, and principles that stand in the way of the New World Order's one-world government. The New World Order is not some enlightened stride toward a future utopia – it's a huge step backwards, away from freedom, liberty, and hope.
Far from merely protecting the status quo, conservatives have been the driving force behind America's growth, strength, hope, and constructive change. It has been the intellectuals and intelligentsia that have been trying to reverse history, and drag us back down to tyranny, and lives as chattel.
If you're not familiar with world history, then I suggest that you read up on how well all of the previous attempts at such a "people's utopia" have worked. The larger these "utopias" were, the fouler the consequences. One shudders to think what would result from attempting the same failed stratagems on a global scale.
Conservatives are the agents of positive change, and always have been – change that doesn't end in economic ruin, chaos, and bloodshed; change that is based on fiscal responsibility, experience, integrity, and common sense – not deceit and "notions."
The idiotic intelligentsia can keep their bloated totalitarian government, corrupt political elite, trickery, and fool's utopia. "We the people" demand that our power be returned to where the Founding Fathers placed it – into the hands of the people.
Power to the people! Right on.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Jim O'Neill served in the U.S. Navy from 1970-1974 in both UDT-21 (Underwater Demolition Team) and SEAL Team Two. A member of MENSA, he worked as a commercial diver in the waters off Scotland, India, and the United States. In 1998 while attending the University of South Florida as a journalism student, O’Neill won “First Place” in the “Carol Burnett/University of Hawaii AEJMC Research in Journalism Ethics Award.” The annual contest was set up by Carol Burnett with the money she won from successfully suing the National Enquirer for libel. He also writes for Canada Free Press.
TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Philosophy
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Dr. Sowell Ping!
To: smoothsailing; abigail2; Amalie; American Quilter; arthurus; awelliott; Bahbah; bamahead; ...
posted on 03/05/2010 5:19:08 PM PST
(But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
posted on 03/05/2010 5:23:49 PM PST
(Obama hates us. Well, maybe a LOT of Kenyans do.)
The intelligentsia say that they're "on the side of the angels," but you know they lie. Intellectuals are responsible for some of the largest, most ruthless, and horrific episodes in recent human history from the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, to Cambodia's Killing Fields.
Always just one genocide from Utopia.
posted on 03/05/2010 5:25:59 PM PST
by Mr Ramsbotham
(A gentleman in the drawing room; a rapist in the budoir.)
Nice article. Not a new thought: I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University. William F. Buckley
posted on 03/05/2010 5:32:52 PM PST
No one who was a living witness to the last third or even quarter of the 20th century and still thinks socialism can work is an intellectual.
The entire twentieth century was an on-going refutation of socialism whether Fabian, National, Soviet, Global or whatever form of socialism, it all failed miserably in the twentieth century.
Only fools are trying to resurrect it in the twenty-first
posted on 03/05/2010 5:36:30 PM PST
(Obama: Chauncey Gardiner without the homburg)
I think Victor Davis Hanson is earning his way onto the list of straight thinking intellectuals.
To: Mr Ramsbotham
Always just one genocide from Utopia.
Exactly, and they don't care how many it takes, it's all about getting there. They're a sick bunch.
To: smoothsailing; Travis McGee
Jim O’Neil is a sharp guy whop is establishing a good rep for his observations.
McGee - Team Two ping
posted on 03/05/2010 6:14:26 PM PST
(Cogito, ergo conservatus)
posted on 03/05/2010 6:29:52 PM PST
(Obama hates us. Well, maybe a LOT of Kenyans do.)
Bookmarking for further reading-—provided the Sudafed I’ve been taking doesn’t do me in tonight.
posted on 03/05/2010 6:31:06 PM PST
(<----Click over there for a special message from GOP_Raider)
Excellent, excellent, excellent. Thanks for the ping jaz.
posted on 03/05/2010 7:24:15 PM PST
(Dems, Libs, Socialists...Call 'em What you Will, They ALL have Fairies Living In Their Trees.)
One is reminded of this thought as well:
"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." Proverbs 4:7
“The intelligentsia does not chiefly consist of greedy, ruthless, power addicted idiots, nor radical, violent, asocial idiots, but mainly bleeding-heart “useful idiot” idiots.”
posted on 03/05/2010 9:00:31 PM PST
(Bring back Jimmy Carter!)
Sorry, anyone who puts “...a member of MENSA...” in his bio is an idiot.
The intelligentsia often refer to government by the euphemism "society" as in President Johnson's "Great Society" (read that as Johnson's "Great Big Government). Sowell notes that "what is called 'social' planning are in fact government orders over-riding the plans and mutual accommodations of millions of other people." The use of the word "society" as a euphemism for government is pervasive leftist thought, and it is worth considering what the precise relationship is between the two. IMHO "society" and "government" could only be co-extensive in the absence of freedom. "Big government" could be as big as society, but no bigger - and freedom exists only to the extent that society is bigger than government.
Johnson's promise of a "Great Society" was, from the conservative POV, nothing more than the hubris of supposing that he could make a great government. That, and the presumption that American society wasn't great to begin with, and was susceptible only of improvement. That presumption is of course evident in even more extreme form in the attitude of our current president.
I don’t much about MENSA, but I was looking at a list of members and up popped Norman Schwarzkopf.
And your point is? That if 19 million posers join an organization that a decent guy signs onto then the organization isn’t silly? Or that Schwarzkopf puts “MENSA” in his bio when he writes an essay?
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