WHY THE LEFT IS ILL: the
Death Spiral of the Intellectuals
There was a time when intellectual
meant someone who uses reason and intellect.
Today, people who call themselves
intellectuals are in a form of mental death spiral: they search
for, and find, those index cards that support their world view,
and clutch little red books like rosaries in the face of all
external evidence. They are ruled by appeals to authority.
Their self-image and sense
of emotional well-being trumps any and all objective evidence
to the contrary.
How many students today believe
what they believe because they met someone who knew a guy whose
girlfriend turned him on to an article by Noam Chomsky?
Noam Chomsky predicted, in
his even, intellectual, authoritarian, tenured manner, that if
the US went to war in Afghanistan after 9/11 the result would
be 3 million Afghan casualties.
How many of these students
who worship St. Noam independently ask themselves why he has,
to date, come up 2,999,500 bodies short? Noam is not wrong by
a fact of one or two; Noam is not wrong by an order of magnitude.
Noam is not wrong by a factor of a hundred to one. Noam is wrong
by more than three orders of magnitude. Noam is wrong by a factor
of 6,000 to one. Noam says the reef is ten feet off the port
bow; when in fact it is more than three miles away.
That's six thousand to one.
Noam says the ocean is six thousand feet deep when in fact the
keel has been ripped out and is sitting on the sandbar back yonder:
that's a 6,000-to-one error. Extrapolating this accuracy rate,
if Noam writes 6,000 pages on the evil of the United States,
how many pages of truth might there by in such a twenty-volume
Does this mean that everything
Noam Chomsky writes is nonsense?
Not at all. He is a professor
of Linguistics. I am not qualified to say how accurate the work
in his field of expertise is. I can however make a stab at how
accurate he is in the field of US foreign policy, and if you
have a handheld calculator at home, you can make the same comparison
and achieve the same results.
The same goes for Michael
Moore. Are all of his maps incorrect? No, just almost all of
them. While he is demonstrably wrong about the contours of the
American Character, I'm sure he has the route to his bank well
worked out, and his triangulation of the location of nearby donut
shops has attained GPS-like accuracy. -- And I never claimed
I would never take cheap shots; only that I have a strict quota
that I abide by religiously.
Intellectualism, as it is
practiced today, is a trap.
It is not a palatial hall
of great minds looking for answers and then testing them in the
real world; it is a basement in your parents house filled with
lazy and filthy hippies eating your leftovers and drinking the
last of your milk.
Intellectualism is certainly
not the same as intelligence, and more and more, it is becoming
antithetical to intelligence.
When well-off people who call
themselves intellectuals drive their SUV's to march in support
of Marxism, you can see the chasm between intellectualism and
intelligence in full flower.
When elitists who fancy themselves
brighter and more compassionate than the rest of us choose to
support the Taliban, with its stoning of women and execution
of homosexuals in football stadiums before mandatory audiences,
over a representative democracy with unparalleled structural
protections of minorities and freedoms of expression, then self-styled
intellectuals have abandoned intelligence altogether, as well
as morality, reason, compassion and indeed sanity.
Likewise, when coffee-house
intellectuals dictate their worldview according to non-existent
pipelines or supposed theft of oil revenues where no evidence
of such theft can be produced but deposits into Iraqi national
accounts can, then one has to ask one's self if this intellectual
badge is worth the mud it's printed on.
There are two other salient
qualities that seem to define the modern intellectual, and neither
of them reflect glory upon the title.
The first is a preening arrogance.
This goes well beyond the
larval, poseur stage; otherwise known as the Coffee-shop intellectual.
These are the profound ponderers with the round glasses that
have no prescription lenses - but they certainly do make one
look serious and deep - and that is the important thing. They
carry obscure books by French intellectuals which they pretend
to read in the original French.
They are emotional eleven
year olds trying to look adult by smoking cigarettes; as with
eleven year old smokers, one does not know whether to laugh or
cry. In any case they are harmless and can be safely ignored.
Far more dangerous are people
who manage to worm their way into positions of influence, usually
in bureaucracies or university faculties, and then can inflict
tremendous damage - although not through bold action, for action
is anathema to today's intellectual set.
No, it is a slow, corrosive
process, and one has only to look at the language of deconstructionism
and post-modernism to realize that the goal of the professional
intellectual is to take any problem or issue that might exist
in the real world, and try to reduce it to language.
Once this troublesome reality
can be corralled into nothing more than a linguistic debate they
are in their sole area of competence and actually have a chance
to win something for once in their lives.
This is why some people see
bad men doing bad things that must be stopped, and others see
victimized by cultural and economic paradigms of inequality that
force them into involuntary self- destructive behavioral modalities
that are predicated on and the result of external dynamics beyond
their control or cognitive abilities, resulting in behavior modification
protocols that are aimed at recovering basal self-esteem levels
while providing the disadvantaged individual skill sets essential
to their reintegration into the community and a return to standardized
norms of societal interaction."
These are the bastards on
Central Planning Committees who have never been to a machine
shop but who think they know more about running a machine shop
than the person who actually runs the machine shop because they
have a masters degree in economics.
Arrogance, thy name is Starbucks.
The second disturbing and
disgusting trait of modern intellectuals is their transparent
use of argument and appeals to authority as a means to camouflage
their moral and physical cowardice and complete inability to
These are the Uruk-hai of
modern degenerate intellectualism; people who use the endless
supplies of evidence cards and dueling authorities to argue and
debate and extemporize and orate and rationalize and discuss
and criticize so long as one never, ever actually has to do something.
That is why so many of these
groups like Not in Our Name or Actors United to Win Without War
are so appealing to intellectuals: it allows them to take a position
as champions of Peace and Compassion without having to do something.
Not in Our Name is against
the war in Iraq. Fine. Saddam was killing perhaps 20,000 people
a year, and forcing millions to live in terror that exceeds that
of having your screenplay put into turnaround; that in addition
to all of the geopolitical turmoil.
What about those people? What
about those - wait for it - children?
And how do we `win without
war' against a regime like that? More Sanctions? No sanctions?
Just let him buy as many people shredders as he can afford by
stealing his nation's oil wealth, and send Strongly Worded Letters
the next time he decides to launch some lunatic war somewhere?
You don't want war - fine. Neither do I. But clearly, somebody
has to do something. Just exactly how do we "win" without
These `intellectuals' are
Action, and the consequences
of action, completely paralyze them - it literally strikes them
loquacious. They become so afraid of doing something that they
are reduced to a non-stop, really quite pathetic jabbering.
The French, in particular,
have made this into an art form that has religious overtones
They seem to really believe
that as long as you are talking nothing bad can happen to you.
Their historical vision stretches back less than fifty years.
And they say we are the unsophisticated ones, the adolescents.
"Ah, oui monsieur, I
can see from your very fierce expression that you intend to rape
my young daughter. Well, she is quite charming, one must admit,
but I could not help but notice, monsieur, the very fine quality
of that trench coat you are wearing
is that a Belgian tweed?
No, of course, c'est bon, but you will admit monsieur that it
does appear unseasonably wet for this time of year
Martinique, do not struggle; Papa is trying to have a conversation
with this charming gentleman
mon dieu! What a remarkable
physique you have, monsieur! You must frequent the gymnasium
quite regularly, do you not, mon ami..? "
This is not nuance; it is
not sophistication; it is not noble or refined or admirable.
It is cowardice. It is fear of taking action when action needs
to be taken, and the main goal of modern intellectualism is to
convince people that taking action when action is called for
is the mark of an idiot, a philistine or a child.
Listen, I'm all in favor of
reading and studying all manner of philosophy and literature.
And while social studies evidence cards cut both ways, there
were not too many expert physicists out there claiming objects
fall up off the table and into the air. Both intellectual study,
and expert opinion, have their place. It is only when they are
used beyond their limits that problems come thick and heavy.
So far, not one book or one
author has seemed to write the definitive manual on how people
behave and why. They in themselves have little or no predictive
value whatsoever. They are useful lighthouses to mark distant
positions, and they open our eyes to new viewpoints and new experiences.
But one book, or one philosopher, or one revolutionary has not
yet been able to pen a work that will tell us how people will
And yet, among these so-called
elites, there are many who take the word of, say, a German expatriate,
living in Britain, at the dawn of the Industrial Age, as a guide
for living in an Information-Age culture dominated by an explosion
of freedom and prosperity brought about precisely by ignoring
what that individual wrote and doing exactly the opposite.
Don't take my word for this.
Let's not sit down in the bilge arguing about whether Karl Marx
or Adam Smith had the best course to freedom and happiness. Let's
just go up the stairs, open a hatch, go out on deck, get out
the telescope and have a look at what actually happened.
We are not blind, and we are
not crippled, and the world is not a novel or a treatise or a
theory or a manifesto. It exists. We can go look for ourselves.
And on the way up, when those
desperate elitist bastards start clutching at your ankles and
implore you to stay below where it's safe and argue some more
sure to kick those sons of bitches right in the teeth.
Their blind obedience to their
Big Ideas have killed more people in history than anything except
disease. Boot to the the teeth, I say.
But that's just me. You've
been around. You're no sap. What do you think? Is learning to
think this way really very difficult? Does it require nuance?
A Ph.D? A French accent?
No, it is much simpler than
that. It is so simple, in fact, that today's intellectuals are
completely incapable of understanding it. It is, like the Universe,
elegantly simple. E=mc2 simple.
Socialist intellectuals will
tell you that Cuba is a model nation: universal free health care,
near total literacy, and essentially no gap whatsoever between
the rich and the poor.
They call it an island paradise
where brotherhood and compassion reign in stark contrast to the
brutal inequalities of the heartless and racist capitalist monster
to the North, ruled by it's Imperial Nazi King, who is the devious
mastermind of all manner of Conspiratorial Wheels and also a
Capitalist intellectuals -
and there are not many, since most of these people have jobs
- argue that Cuba is a squalid, corrupt, poverty-ridden basket
case, a land of oppression and secret police and torture chambers
run by a megalomaniac who practices the most idiotic, inhuman
and degrading economic system ever invented. So here we sit in
the chartroom, with our competing maps. What to think?
Well, we can agree that the
act of giving up your home, your friends and your family must
be traumatic, especially since you will face prison, or worse,
if you are caught trying to vote with your feet.
And I think all can agree
that placing your infant daughter and your aged mother on a raft
of inner tubes would be a trifle more traumatic and horrifying
than not getting enough whole cane sugar in your grande frappucino
So, is Socialism a better
way to live, or is Capitalism?
Leave the armies of experts
and intellectuals down in the bilge where they belong.
Go up on deck, get out the
telescope, and answer one simple question for me and for yourself:
Which way are the rafts headed?