Thursday, July 2, 2020

Our Unintelligent Intelligentsia

Any good Marxist can tell you that the lumpen proletariat is constituted of workers who do not join the revolutionary struggle because they cannot recognize their own class interests. Lacking class consciousness, this group tends to side with its oppressors. True revolutionaries treat the lumpen proletariat with contempt.

But then, is George Will correct to call our elite intellectuals a lumpen intelligentsia? In fact, these thought leaders, comprising media figures, academic intellectuals, schoolteachers, lawyers and bureaucrats is not exactly devoid of revolutionary fervor. They are leading the current cultural revolution. However clever his term, lumpen intelligentsia, appears Will seems to have undermined his very good analysis by mislabeling the group in question.

Surely he is right to say that today’s intelligentsia is filled with nitwits and fools. It is anything but intelligent.

A nation’s gravest problems are those it cannot discuss because it dare not state them. This nation’s principal problem, which makes other serious problems intractable, is that much of today’s intelligentsia is not intelligent.

It does not understand American history, does not profess any love for country and cannot offer any reasoned analysis of America’s current condition:

Today’s most serious problem, which annihilates thoughtfulness about all others, is that a significant portion of the intelligentsia — the lumpen intelligentsia — cannot think. Its torrent of talk is an ever-intensifying hurricane of hysteria about the endemic sickness of the nation since its founding in 1619 (don’t ask). And the iniquities of historic figures mistakenly admired.

It is not just that our intelligentsia cannot protect us from mob thinking. It itself has become a mob:

An admirable intelligentsia, inoculated by education against fashions and fads, would … would be society’s ballast against mob mentalities. Instead, much of America’s intelligentsia has become a mob.

Will is too kind to mention it, but our intelligentsia has been selected, not by merit, but for diversity. Knowing how to think was not a requirement. Filling diversity quotas was far more important.

Will suggests that this group feels compelled to impose ideological conformity. One thing they do not want is any indication that they are not really up to the credentials they possess::

Seeking to impose on others the conformity it enforces in its ranks, articulate only in a boilerplate of ritualized cant, today’s lumpen intelligentsia consists of persons for whom a little learning is delightful. They consider themselves educated because they are credentialed, stamped with the approval of institutions of higher education that gave them three things: a smattering of historical information just sufficient to make the past seem depraved; a vocabulary of indignation about the failure of all previous historic actors, from Washington to Lincoln to Churchill, to match the virtues of the lumpen intelligentsia; and the belief that America’s grossest injustice is the insufficient obeisance accorded to this intelligentsia.

He continues:

Its expansion tracks the expansion of colleges and universities — most have, effectively, open admissions — that have become intellectually monochrome purveyors of groupthink. Faculty are outnumbered by administrators, many of whom exist to administer uniformity concerning “sustainability,” “diversity,” “toxic masculinity” and the threat free speech poses to favored groups’ entitlements to serenity.

Of course, the greatest threat to their self-esteem and to their august credentials would be the boy who shouts out that they are like the emperor who believes that he is dressed in the finest of imperial finery, but who is not wearing any clothes. In today's intellectual environment, anyone who dares suggest it this will immediately be canceled.


Sam L. said...

I gave up on George Will some years ago.

trigger warning said...

According to, in 1950, 6.2% of Americans had 4 or more years of college. Slightly less than half were women. In 2019, 36% of Americans had 4 or more years of college, and slightly over half were women. Last year, women dominated the life and social "sciences" (particularly psychology) and education. Men dominated the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering (with the exception of environmental "engineering" - a tidy environment is so important!). The humanities and arts were about evenly split.

Was 2019 a better year than 1950 for Americans? If you're an American fish shopping for a Chinese bicycle, I suppose so. We certainly had more cheap Chinese gewgaws. But, all things considered, cycling fish notwithstanding, I think not.

It's worth noting that among the downpour of diplomas being tossed from helicopters, the fields of study requiring actual factual knowledge lest bridges fall down and airplanes fall from the sky are typically male. And the fields of study requiring an opinion or belief are typically female. Fields of study requiring nothing of detectable intellectual value, like the rainbow of Studies (womyn's, black, queer, fat, etc.) degree programs, are filled with the dregs of admissions committees' delusions, just dying to speak Truth to Power.

Now guess which "gender" dominates the boards and staff offices of the Grievance Industries (aka "nonprofits")? This is the "torrent of talk", busily justifying its own existence. Womyn have often suffered at the hands of men throughout the millennia, but they have never suffered in silence.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

It doesn’t take a lot of thinking to be a Never Trumper, either, George. Instead of the lumpen, perhaps we should talk about the self-appointed, self-congratulatory UBER-conservative clerisy, literati or intellectual class, or whatever highbrow noun one might prefer..

The uber-conservative clerisy is made up of writers and editors like Will, Kristol, Goldberg, Williamson, Boot, etc. They have shown their true colors. We also have labeled conservatives, like David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan, who are as conservative as John Roberts or Willard Romney.

To hell with the GOPe, Chamber of Commerce, think tanks and the rest of the D.C. elites. Sociopathological globalist plutocrats is what they are. They’re naked emperors trying to lead a country, while showing contempt for most of its citizens. Look to Victor Davis Hanson for the antidote.

Trump has had the courage to fight the Left, and these so-called “conservative thought leaders” have abandoned him for being too gauche for their sophisticated taste. Trump takes action on things the Uber-conservative clerisy has championed for decades, and they still hate him. Just like they hated Reagan.

Today’s elites are all the same, and they’re all in cahoots.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

By the way, what happened to Ubu Maccabe? I haven’t seen his comments in awhile. I appreciated his perspective. Did he get banned/canceled?

urbane legend said...

Aren't the intelligentsia the first, or at least the second, put against the wall and shot when people like Stalin take over?

David Foster said...

"It's worth noting that among the downpour of diplomas being tossed from helicopters, the fields of study requiring actual factual knowledge lest bridges fall down and airplanes fall from the sky are typically male."

Not totally true, there are a lot of women who major in medicine, nursing, veterinary medicine, etc, all of which require actual factual knowledge.

One woman who worked for me explained her career interests as "she was interested in things that were organic"...this seems to be pretty common.

Freddo said...

Anecdotal evidence suggests that when it comes to veterinary medicine women are more interested in a city practice full of small cute animals rather than a country practice dealing with cattle. Horses would be the obvious test case, but not a popular animal among my acquaintances so short on anecdotal data.

Giordano Bruno said...

George Will is an example of an intellectual who conspicuously lacks the virtue of courage. The cowardly lion. He'll sneer at Trump, but he'll never pose any real threat to the people Trump is fighting. One day we will read about the mob that beat George Will to death as he walked out of Martin's Tavern on Wisconsin Ave and N Street. So it goes.

Urbane legend, the second. The first to be shot are the political rivals, the second are the people who remember that there were political rivals. What a fine day that will be. There is a joy at knowing evil men are being punished. Which is preferable, seeing good men prosper or evil men punished?

Ignatius, according to my sources at CNN, Ubu sailed to Zanzibar to marry the great-great-great-granddaughter of Tippu Tip. He is said to be raising a great slave army, the Ruga-Ruga's. They said he plans to return to America to sail the Hudson, capturing white Millenials and taking them back to Madagascar to be sold as agricultural slaves. But that could be fake news.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Good to see you again, Gio... I had suspicions, and appreciate the subtle reveal.

Giordano Bruno said...