Volatility

March 6, 2018

“Experts” and “Intellectuals”: Throw Out the Bums

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What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligenzia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence and hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them…Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They cant tell science from scientism — in fact in their eyes scientism looks more scientific than real science…

The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in most countries, the government’s role is between five and ten times what it was a century ago…

The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited…

He doesn’t know that there is no difference between “pseudointellectual” and “intellectual” in the absence of skin in the game.

 
– Nassim Taleb on Intellectuals-Yet-Idiots
 
 
Today’s public life gives quite a spectacle. For example, when we see the hyper-educated “experts” and “intellectuals”, all pompously proclaiming their participation in this or that millennial intellectual paradigm, whether it be scientism, technocracy, neoliberalism, establishment versions of environmentalism, feminism, and other causes, while their social and political vision invariably boils down to the same flat-earth worship of the system based on capitalism, money, “jobs”, temporal power, including regurgitating the same lies any half-assed mainstream media columnist is paid to spew. It’s axiomatic that 99.9% of Mensa members have utterly mainstream, mediocre political opinions. (Opinions, not even thoughts, let alone values.) Almost without exception these geniuses submit to the exact same bounds of political partisanship dictated by the mainstream media as the unwashed masses do. All their learning, all their alleged intellectual principles, do nothing to give them even a single new idea.
 
This applies to the great majority of self-alleged “radicals” as well. They too constantly renew their devotion to all the main ideas and institutions of productionism and consumerism, however much it pleases them to sneer at “bourgeois” ideology and arbitrarily to separate productionism into the two flavors of “capitalism” and “socialism”.* And then most of them, come time for the kangaroo election (they also have no ideas beyond electoralism), tell the people to vote Democrat. But it never required intensive study of Marx to reach the position of “Hope and Change…I’m With Her”. I personally know plenty of uneducated people who reached the same position, or its “Make America Great Again” flip side, with zero effort.
 
Of course, most of these pseudo-educated elites are actually mediocrities who had the grinder aspiration and the money to go to school. When I refer to elitism I’m thinking more of the intellectuals’ grandiose ideological pronouncements than of their mediocre selves. The point is that such grand intellectual projects, if these really possessed any of the integrity, profundity, and altruistic impulse their adherents claim for them, ought to better the minds and spirits of those who participate. But we see every day how there’s almost an inverse relationship between the grandiosity of the ideal and the gutter quality, intellectual and moral, of its practitioners and fanboys.
 
Even where it comes to the few writers today capable of the true eagle’s eye perspective, those who speak profoundly about this civilization’s unsolvable crises of economics, energy, and ecology, most of them still insist on self-indulging in “topical” political commentary where they then immediately regress to the level of cranky right-wing bloggers, including all the standard incoherency, self-contradiction, and refusal to engage with rational argument which is characteristic of such types.** Here again, more overtly conformist minds reach those same positions with much less effort. (For real criticism of the left as offering no alternative to productionism and technocracy, one has to come to a site like mine.)
 
Perhaps the greatest irony of this culture is how the “Progress” ideologues are the most hidebound, intellectually stagnant, politically retarded epigones who are congenitally incapable of ever actually progressing to a new idea, a new vision. For them the laws of the world are never anything but the status quo forever. In many ways “progressives” are, objectively speaking, reactionaries in how they desperately cling to revanchist fantasies for things which long ago were disproved and/or destroyed forever, not to mention how meager their fantasies usually are. To fixate on “bring back Glass-Steagal” manages the feat of being simultaneously nostalgic and lame.
 
This puts in perspective the value of today’s university education. All that investment of money, time, effort, all that “thinking”, and look at what the modern intellectual/political class comes up with: Straight parroting of all the most gutter “values”, lies, and ideological precepts of Mammon and the corporations, every last one of these a thousand times refuted. (And still so many still think they ought to voluntarily submit to debt slavery for the sake of this “education”!) The modern intellectual is hidebound, stagnant, and stupid. The modern expert is a prostituted liar. I say we the people can do better.
 
 
In denouncing the morbid state of today’s intellectuals I’m not being anti-intellectual. On the contrary, it’s our establishment intellectuals who refuse to do any thinking at all, other than in a purely instrumental way in their unquestioning service of productionism, technocracy, the extreme energy civilization, and most of all corporate imperatives. Today’s pseudo-intellectuals “think” only this way, and they advocate only the fake politics which go along with this corporate status quo ideology. They’re propagandists, which means one is the worst kind of criminal. In the same way, this site is one of the few on the internet which respects true science. Contrary to the lies of the STEM establishment, it’s the establishment types themselves, with their slavish instrumental adherence to the corporate science paradigm, who are anti-science.
 
In case anyone thinks I’m exalting novelty or radicalism for their own sakes, I’m not. My total opposition to thoughtless reckless promiscuous technological deployment sufficiently refutes that. Nor is that the case with ideas. I call for propagating and enacting the new and necessary ideas. What’s wrong with productionism isn’t that it’s an old idea and institution, but that it’s proven destructive to humanity and the Earth. What’s wrong with “progress” isn’t that it’s antiquated, but that it’s long been disproven as at best a religious fantasy, more often an ideological lie. What’s wrong with liberalism and “vote Democrat” isn’t that it’s the same old thing, but that it’s long been proven ineffective and a malign scam. Those who still adhere to these disproven notions, claiming to be finding something new and possible in them, are idiots or liars.
 
The necessary new ideas, most of all the great need to abolish corporate industrial agriculture and globally transform to agroecology, are those needed to overcome and transcend these failed and destructive old notions and actions. That’s the one and only real kind of progress.
 
 
*Consider the standard left perspective on the culture wars of “science”. It usually means one denounces Trump and is indistinguishable from a partisan liberal. For them as well as for the liberals, what’s wrong with de jure climate denial is that it’s an affront to the authority of “Science”, a kind of lese majestie. In reality, what’s wrong with any kind of climate denial isn’t that it’s intellectually “wrong”, let alone that it insults the alleged majesty of science. (The very belief in such majesty and authority indicates one knows and cares nothing for real science, but on the contrary is a scientism cultist.) What’s wrong is that climate chaos already is profoundly destructive of humanity and the Earth and will become far worse. Denial of this and obstruction of real mitigation and adaptation measures comprise a crime against humanity and the Earth. That’s what’s wrong with it, not the liberal vs. conservative culture war part of it.
 
Such misdirection highlights how the de jure deniers are just one minority faction among the deniers. Far greater in number are the de facto deniers, who may “believe in” anthropogenic climate change and often claim to care about it, but whose actions prove they want no change in the status quo paradigms which drive climate change. They only tell various lies and propagate various scams in order to pretend they care and are doing something. These are the climate crocodiles, crying crocodile tears over climate change. They include the liberal hand-wringers as well as the scientific establishment and its fanboys. All these persons and institutions systematically do their worst to drive climate chaos even as they deplore it with empty words. This kind of denialism is far more pernicious than the de jure kind, since it reflects a much more profound Earth-destroying inertia.
 
For the climate crocodiles this hypocrisy driven by destructive inertia causes them to fixate on “Trump” even though ecologically destructive policy and ideology is the realm where, more than anywhere else, Trump is nothing but the continuation of the Clinton-Bush-Obama paradigm. And here is the best example of the pathology I mentioned above, where “leftists” decompose to become indistinguishable from liberals, often to the point of touting the Democrat Party, thus demonstrating their own indelible bourgeois character, to use one of their own favorite curse words.
 
All that education and ideological pomposity, and one still decries Trump’s affront to the fake Paris accord or the “corruption” of the previously public-spirited EPA. So-called lesser minds usually reach those positions with much less effort. It’s taken a bit more effort to work out the new and necessary ideas for a human future. We’ll see how much effort it takes to propagate and then realize them.
 
**These days there’s a whole genre of writers who are at heart run-of-the-mill timid conservatives, but who for whatever reason are unable to find solace in the regular corporate propaganda. So they acknowledge this or that existential crisis, such as Peak Oil, climate chaos, looming ecological and agricultural collapse, or the totalitarianism of globalization, often including various esoteric tie-ins. But all this is just window dressing for what’s always in the end the same snowflake “conservative” presentation. Jordan Peterson might be the most faddish example of this today, but there’s lots of such writers. Here again the pro-capitalists are out ahead of the anti-capitalists, who mostly remain mired in regressive “political” ideology.
 
 
 
 
 
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8 Comments

  1. How does it feel to be smarter than everybody else?

    Comment by VernonHuffman — March 6, 2018 @ 10:50 am

    • What part of this assessment do you disagree with? And why do you feel you’re smarter than they where it comes to pesticides and GMOs? Or the car? The whole lot of them say your point of view is stupid, anti-science, not “serious”, etc.

      Actually, I don’t claim to be especially smart except in the negative Socratic sense. As for being one of the handful of sane people in a civilization-wide lunatic asylum run by the inmates, or the only atheist in the Mammon theocracy of money-godhood, it usually sucks.

      Comment by Russ — March 6, 2018 @ 11:57 am

  2. […] industrial agriculture.     *As for the scientism wingnuts, mainstream media, and academics and public intellectuals, it bears repeating as often as possible that they support the campaign to eradiate antibiotics. […]

    Pingback by Glyphosate and the General Poison Paradigm: Destroy the Soil; Destroy Antibiotics; Drive Climate Chaos | Volatility — March 9, 2018 @ 12:28 pm

  3. This is a general comment. Thank you for your thought-provoking posts. Would you consider doing a podcast version of them. I think they’d translate quite well!

    Comment by Jennifer — March 10, 2018 @ 9:30 pm

    • Podcasts: great idea.

      Comment by alan2102 — March 12, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

    • I’ve considered it, but I’m not as much of a talker as I am a writer, so I might not translate well to it. But I still think about such ideas.

      Comment by Russ — March 18, 2018 @ 4:23 am

  4. Dear Russ: would you please link to your best critique of “productionism”? Thanks.

    Comment by alan2102 — March 12, 2018 @ 12:38 pm


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