November 23, 2004

A sort of dull, crabby lumpen-elite

Peter Burnet:

...Forgive the self-reference, but one thing I noticed during arguments with anti-war, anti-Bushites during the election was how unread and uninformed so many were. A little CBC boilerplate, Sixty Minutes and Michael Moore were all they needed to ground their angry certainties on the war on terror and, indeed, whatever else ails the world. Brothersjudd savages the intellectual “elites” mercilessly, but in many cases it is all too easy. Too often, the enemy is not a courageous cutting edge of iconoclastic and original thought, but rather a sort of dull, crabby lumpen-elite that keeps repeating shibboleths adopted decades ago. Perhaps, like arcades and television talk shows, leftist cant is dumbing down and working its way down the social ladder. We may live to see the day it is featured primarily, not in centers of serious, original thought and debate, but in articles by Theodore Dalrymple...

As you chop machete-trails through the intentionally confusing thickets of leftism, you are probably near the Heart of Darkness when you notice that "helping the victims," or merely talking about it, puts a person in a position of superiority. You can be a total loser but when you prate about how "the poor are being ground down by Capitalism and Republicans, and are too stupid to notice it," you are like a wise god peering at bugs in a microscope. Very comforting if you are a school-teacher or journalist with an '88 Corolla and a "re-defeat Bush" bumper sticker. And you don't need much these days to qualify as an intellectual. A few courses at the local community college, some sociology, or history of cinema, and voila!

Which is why partly privatizing Social Security, which is so supremely do-able and sensible that it should be uncontroversial, is opposed by Democrats. It doesn't imperil a major part of their coalition the way tort reform or school vouchers do (though I'm sure the SS bureaucracy is at least 90% Democrat) but it cuts right to the heart of their psychology. The workers, the old...The whole socialist experiment started with "helping the workers." Now, after a hundred-million or so deaths, the workers are going to become little capitalists? Unthinkable.

One frustration I've felt blogging during the last few years is that I've never once had a good debate. The occasional lefty-blogger will drop in, but it's more like a drive-by shooting...they will pick out some little inaccuracy or mistake I've made, cry Ah Hah, gotcha! whoop whoop whoop! with infuriating smugness, and then scoot. Or proclaim in a comment that budget deficits mean that interest rates will rise and the economy will crash....then not stick around for some shibboleth-deconstruction. "Dull, crabby lumpen-elite." Yeah.

I believe there is no one principle, which predominates in Human Nature so much in every stage of Life, from the Cradle to the grave, in Males and Females, old and young, black and white, rich and poor, high and low, as this Passion for Superiority . . . . Every human Being compares itself in its own Imagination, with every other round it, and will find some superiority over every other real or imaginary, or it will die of Grief and Vexation.

John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams, April 17, 1777
Posted by John Weidner at November 23, 2004 8:49 AM
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