Academia and Imbecility (James E. Miller)
Monday January 7th, 2013
In a recent LRC article, economist William Anderson dissects the leftist progressive mindset within the modern-day academic community. University professors, along with their colleagues of sophisticated thinking in the press, display an affinity for state power in their reasoning. In their eyes, the state can do little wrong even as its enforcers plunder society, spy on dissidents, imprison non-criminals, and conduct military campaigns of mass murder. Without the constant abuses of humanity at the hands of state officials, we would all be shivering in the cold street whilst robber barons live out bloated lives at the expense of our misery.
This shallow thinking is demonstrated in one of Anderson's fellow teachers who regards the failed Al Gore presidential campaign as a direct cause of Hurricane Katrina and the damage it brought to New Orleans. In his words, "If Gore had won, we would not have had Hurricane Katrina because he would have stopped global warming." As Dr. Anderson puts it,
He believed that government authority given to the Environmental Protection Agency from an environmentalist president would have immediately changed the entire weather patterns of the Western Hemisphere and ended hurricanes.This unbelievably obtuse logic comes from a man who holds a doctor of philosophy and is generally considered an intelligent person. Anderson's quoting of the professor's inane rationale is not meant to belittle or embarrass the man in any way. Yet belittling is precisely what is needed for a person whose thoughts on the natural workings of the world are so completely removed from reality. University professors are typically seen as the standard bearer of informed opinion. Letting such buffoonery off the hook of disparagement is an offense against good sense. And all too often, this is the approach taken by the small minority of thinkers who ridden themselves of the juvenile notion that the state is an institution of virtue.
The soft approach to admonishment to logical errors concerning state policy lends itself to further usurpations of authority by the political elite. The fighter of poor judgment must assure that those who advocate for actions deemed criminal by any normal standard are ridiculed and denounced at every turn. Apologists of the state wish to see that a majority of men remain subservient to a small minority. Their vision of a good society is one in which every hard working individual is forever being stripped of his livelihood through taxation, regulation, war, inflation, and police intimidation. The state has nearly 200,000,000 deaths to its name in the twentieth century alone. If there was ever a machine of violence and destruction deserving of condemnation, it is the group of individuals who declare themselves the right to wield exclusive authority over a given area.
Lending credence to the institution of organized violence is a transgression against moral considerations. To not combatively call out supporters of the state for their flagrant displays of imbecile reasoning is to allow a philosophy of crude thought and depraved ethics be triumphant. In the various avenues that pass as intelligent opinion today, many scholars are enamored by the state. They see central government as vital to societal functioning. This dogma leaks out into media outlets in a more consumable form for the observing public. That way, the masses are willing to forgo their own property as they believe it wise and justified. In a recent HuffingtonPost editorial, screenwriter and PhD holder Patricia Rust offered various strategies for getting through TSA checkpoints at airlines. These include doing "everything like a good little boy or girl" and to get over the government pat down because it "happens to everyone." The notion that someone may take offense to being forced to absorb an undisclosed amount of radiation or face the grubby hands of a state-sanctioned pervert is ignored. Her piece was treated as a lighthearted analysis on the pains of regulated air travel. But beyond the infantile language was the underlying message of submission to state authority.
Such a piece of writing is meant to distort the publicís view on governing issues. Because academics and PhD holders are viewed as well informed, their opinions are taken as acceptable wisdom. This corruption in open thought is precisely what the ruling class hopes to achieve through its tightly regulated educational system. A legion of intellectuals who admonish independent questioning and base their acumen on painfully absurd convictions is leading the decay of civilized behavior.
Far too often, those with a reasoned view of the state have endeavored to win hearts and minds of the masses by appealing to sound judgment. But with the triumph of representative democracy, the average man is ready to embrace whatever decree will stuff his pockets, no matter the cost in freedom. The tidings of liberty have slowly been replaced by appeals to immediate satisfaction. Sophomoric rationalization has wrung the life out of common sense. And the weighty thinkers have all been replaced with imbeciles armed with certificates instead of a head capable of succinct thought. Their thinking is far from empty- it is simply laden with illusions on centralized government. As 19th century humorist Josh Billings once said, "It ainít ignorance causes so much trouble; itís folks knowing so much that ainít so."
There are two explanations for the statist mindset. Either the believer of righteous government is vastly benighted of the nature of the state or they are fully aware of how a professionalized criminal class operates and perfectly content with the environment of predation people are forced to live under. There is not another explanation.† Between ignorance and evil, the decent man finds it atrocious that his wealth is regularly stolen, his neighbors are imprisoned for victim-less crimes, he can't live a commercial life without first being given permission, and that his tax money funds the killing of innocents. To a majority of academics and distinguished journalists, this is an acceptable state of affairs that should be encouraged.
The goal of obtaining knowledge is to discover what Albert Jay Nock called the ďplain natural truth of things.Ē†The perpetuation of false, or even horribly ignorant, theories corrupts the search for confirmation in an incredibly complex world. To declare something as asinine as the U.S. government being capable of altering weather patterns for one half of the Earth in a manner that would not be materially destructive or overly tyrannical is to believe in a foolís paradise.
There is nothing wrong with having a childish view of the operations of a functional society if you are indeed a child. They are handicapped by a lack of experience and undeveloped judgment. For someone of aged character, to have faith in the utopian state is an embarrassment and it ought to be treated as such. These are the men and women that are willing to not just throw away their own freedom but the rights of others for their plainly shallow views. Demeaning their intellect and off-kilter moral compass is not just proper, but entirely merited.
James E. Miller holds a BS in public administration with a minor in business from Shippensburg University, PA. He is the Editor in Chief at the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada and a current contributor to his hometown newspaper, the Middletown Press and Journal. He currently works in Washington D.C. as a copywriter.