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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Intellectual Morons

Intelligence can be a helpful human trait. It is useful to remember that many other traits are important in the evolution and effective functioning of civilization. Genius can be very fragile, society needs robustness in order to be sustained. Traditions and trial and error approaches are far more robust than intellect.

Some liberal writers have pointed out, with disdain, that some conservative writers display a degree of anti-intellectualism in their works. There is some truth to the claim. Perhaps there is a good reason for this. First exhibit, this George Orwell quote, "There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them."

There may be some intellectuals infected by a right wing ideology, but many more are infected by a left wing ideology!

Additional exhibits are provided in this Frontpage Magazine interview with Daniel Flynn, author of the book Intellectual Morons. (emphasis mine)

Flynn: My purpose in writing Intellectual Morons is to get more people to think with their brain rather than their ideology.
The endless stream of recent scandals involving intellectuals rationalizing dishonesty in the service of a cause—Rigoberta Menchu, Betty Friedan, Michael Bellesiles, etc.—motivated me to write the book. It’s one thing for used car salesmen or politicians to lie. It’s
sort of a staple of those trades. But the mission of the scholar is to find the truth. Unfortunately, truth has taken a back seat to political agendas among intellectuals.

Flynn: The main idea behind Intellectual Morons is that ideology acts as a mental straitjacket. It blinds adherents to reality, breeds fanaticism, and rationalizes dishonesty. It makes smart people stupid.
It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are if you don’t use your
brain. Intelligent people aren’t necessarily rigorous thinkers. In fact, many of them are mentally lazy. Ideology provides a way for lazy people to respond to issues, ideas, people, and events without thinking. For the ideologue, ideology is the Rosetta Stone of everything. Why think when the system provides all the answers? Ideology is attractive to smart people because it flatters them by suggesting that a single idea from the mind of an intellectual has the power of explaining all of history or ordering the affairs of whole nations. No person is that smart; no idea that good.

My book is about how ideology overrides common sense among intellectuals.

FP: The Left continues its pathology in the War on Terror. Now we have leftist feminists showing up at demonstrations nude, wearing Saudi head-gear, and protesting Bush. Yet if they lived under the cultures and societies they are siding with, they would be exterminated within 30 seconds just for showing an ankle.

Overall, the Left has sided with a fascist enemy that extinguishes all supposed leftist values themselves: women’s rights, gays’ rights, separation between religion and state, etc. etc.

The Left's reflexive hatred for America and its allies overrides its genuflections to human rights. That's why they don't cheer human rights advances in Afghanistan, or Israel's tolerance of Arab homosexuals who would be severely punished for their behavior in their homelands.

FP: What would be your definition of "intellectual
Flynn: An intellectual moron is someone who squanders his superlative cognitive abilities by relying on ideology rather than his mind to do his thinking. Next to this definition is a picture of Noam Chomsky.

In academia, Hollywood, the judiciary, and other strongholds of the Left, the prospects for conservative progress may appear bleak. But we've seen freedom triumph over totalitarianism, and conservative ideas gain at least a beachhead in the media. Progress has been made when concerted action has been taken. If conservatives focus on the campuses, for instance, in the way that they focused for many years on media bias, I think great things will happen. I'm an optimist.

FP: I hope you are right. But overall, as long as humans remain
who they are -- fallen and flawed -- I think the socialist impulse will never go away, and will remain the easiest thing for people to cling to. Indeed, as long as inequality exists, so will the impulse toward equality, and so millions more humans will be tortured, starved and exterminated.

Flynn: The idea that man can be perfected is the most dangerous delusion. Whether it's an Islamic terrorist attempting to establish Allah's earthly kingdom, a Nazi believing that a perfect race of men can be created, or a Communist looking to make Heaven on Earth, the motivation of these fanatics is the same. They are all utopians.

...I don't think the Left can ever really be defeated,
because the desire in many humans to believe in utopia on earth is stronger than acknowledging the limits of human hope.

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