Don’t Think: Just Feel the Bern
Political candidates who prey on anxieties have succeeded in exploiting the ignorance of all too many Americans. It is frightening that such candidates could rise to prominence in this country. We need better education to prevent the appeal of such demagogues.
This is the sort of stuff we hear every day from leftist pundits who are convinced that their side has a monopoly on intelligence and education. Anyone who has been to even a halfway respectable college will become a leftist Democrat. The connection between education and leftism is something like the law of gravity. Just as we know that an object tossed in the air will return to the ground, we know that as a person's education level rises, he will become more left-wing in his views.
If Albert Jay Nock were alive today, he might be suprized to learn that the deep pessimism of his 1931 lectures on education fell far short of American reality in the new millennium. Nock, a classicist and elitist, decried the anti-elitist mentality that had taken hold in America by his time. He expected standards to continue to fall, but he might have been surprised by the paradoxical arrogance ot today’s anti-elitists who seem proud of their own low standards.
Which brings us to the Bernie Sanders movement. Mr. Sanders' base consists of white college students and their white professors. In fact, the Bernie Sanders movement could possibly be the whitest political movement in America during the past 100 years. It is entirely a product of leftist indoctrination through the system of mass education, and it nicely illustrates the shoddiness of our schools. The ideas of the movement come straight out of the leftist playbook of American curriculum designers.
So where can we start in diagnosing this mental disorder known as "Feeling the Bern"? One place could be this insight from Nock in his 1931 Page Barbour lectures:
"The popular idea of democracy is animated by a very strong resentment of superiority. It resents the thought of an elite; the thought that there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience, achievement and enjoyment, which by nature are open to some and not to all. It deprecates and disallows this thought, and discourages it by every available means."
This "popular idea of democracy" is central to the Sanders movement and carries not only its well-documented economic socialism, but also its message of cultural Marxism. How dare Donald Trump refer to some illegal immigrants as rapists and suggest building a wall to keep such people out! How dare Trump suggest that Muslims are more likely to carry out terrorist attacks! This might imply some degree of inequality among groups that we as leftists favor. Is Trump suggesting that American citizens are more likely to be law-abiding than "the undocumented"? Is Trump suggesting that Christianity is superior to Islam in producing peaceful adherents?
Of course, Nock’s reference to a "resentment of superiority" was made in an intellectual and educational context. Today, however, this "resentment of superiority" would extend to a degree that opposing the presence of illegal alien felons in one's country would be considered racism, or that questioning aspects of Islamic doctrine would be viewed as a sort of bigoted Christian elitism. The 'resentment of superiority' has now gone well beyond the realm of debates over classical education. It now extends to anyone who hints at opposition to the leftist political agenda. The targets now include Americans who stand for that brutally inhumane policy known as border control as well as Christians who think their religion is superior to Islam. All of this is considered elitist, lacking in empathy, and prejudiced.
But this is not where the menace ends. In our time, the mediocrities, charlatans, economic dependents, and proletarians who are animated by the egalitarian spirit of resentment are under the delusion that they are members of the morally and intellectually superior class. America’s system of mass education has produced hordes of knowledge-free brainwash victims who think that they are the most enlightened generation in the history of mankind and that their duty is to fight ignorant primitives who cling to non-leftist attitudes.
Here is the irony. American education has got so much worse in the last half century that most universities are mere diploma mills; nonetheless, those who make it through the system think that they are the best educated and most enlightened generation in human history. “Everyone will accept gay marriage once the old people die off,” they say. Indeed. As if condoning gay relationships is an indication of knowledge, intelligence, cultivation, serious study, or productive work. The younger generation of Americans is so ignorant that they usually are not even aware of the serious disciplines they know little about, and, of course, they think historical study is useless. Who cares about the life of Muhammad? Why should I read about it if I have Muslim friends who join me in voting for the Democrats to combat rightwing extremism?
The thorough degradation of American education helps to explain why the Bernie devotees parade around with such arrogance and self-righteousness. They have been taught to believe that they are well-informed merely for holding certain views it takes all of ten minutes to learn. The importance of actual knowledge or skill as measures of educational worth has never been impressed upon them.
To be continued…..
You spoke well. The notions of liberty and academic freedom were easily turned into slogans by Leftists to gain entrance and once within the walled cities, quickly beaten into swords to murder their superiors from within . I was fortunate to have witnessed it once early in my old life and will never forget the glory in suffering such injustice revealed.
It is great to see Nock quoted in reference to current events. As a classical school teacher, I worry about sending my students off to secular colleges, and I cannot fathom the thought of teaching in the public schools. I’ve seen the textbooks and been inside those classrooms. I am very thankful for institutions like my own school where a decent education can still be had in our age. Support your local classical school.
What has been destroyed in the quest for Jacobin equality with all of its fellow travelers – feminism, gay rights, civil rights, human rights, unalienable rights etc. – is the countervailing force of subsidiartiy which is the dynamic equilibrium of superior and inferior magistrates, each with its own unique set of offices -duties, obligations and responsibilities – and the commensurate authority and power to carry them out. Fathers as heads of households; bishops has heads of churches; masters as heads of guilds; sheriffs as heads of counties; majors as heads of municipalities; governors as heads of states; and kings or presidents as heads of kingdoms or general governments represent some of the important magistrates in subsidiarity. When a superior magistrate attempts to usurp the offices of inferior magistrates, the superior magistrate is a tyrant and is to be resisted. When an inferior magistrate attempts to usurp the offices of a superior magistrate, the inferior magistrate is a rebel and is to be suppressed. The Hobbesian state – an artificial corporation with a monopoly on coercion, with the ability to define the limits of its own power and which is animated by a powerful will, be it that of a dictator, an oligarchy or a “democratic” majority, is then by definition a tyrant and is to be resisted. Education as spoken of in this article is merely one of the weapons, a very effective weapon, of the Hobbesian state and those who animate it, namely cultural Marxists, stock jobbers, paper aristocracy and bureaucrats. Marx states that Hobbes is the father of us all.
Education begins with humility. One is humbled on the one hand by the great mysteries of the created order, mysteries which are all subordinate to the Mysterium Tremedum, and through which we learn of Him; on the other hand, one is humbled by one’s ignorance as one encounters the mysteries – history, mathematics, etc. Learning, be it learning Latin or math, is not unlike learning encountering one’s spouse. At the end of one’s life, although much has been learned and shared, there remains a mystery. When one submits to the vastness of the mystery and to the vastness of one’s own ignorance, then there arises awe; from awe come curiosity; from curiosity a quest; from the quest the requisite disciple to woo the secrets of the specific mystery. We learn not for power but to apprehend the limits the created order imposes on us and to order our lives within those limits, yielding the factor of transcendence to Him by and in whom things are not done away with but are fulfilled and made new again, including ultimately ourselves. That is the purpose of learning.
The arrogance and self-righteousness of the Left is the antithesis of real learning, for real learning begets humility.
Thank you for your post. I always enjoy reading your comments. I hope you are still teaching some students somewhere at least some of the time. Your love and admiration for the beautiful things in life is persuasive in itself and the real absence in most of what we call education.
Richard Mitchell, The Underground Grammarian, wrote a good book on on the wrecking of public education, The Graves of Academe. By now, though, the private schools are seriously infected, and the better-known liberal arts colleges are so bad that the only rational explanation of their continuing ability to attract students at outrageous prices is that the parents are as ignorant as their unfortunate children.
You write because ” the parents are as ignorant as their unfortunate children.” That would definitely apply to me , Mr. Brownlow. With our nine children my wife and I have tried homeschooling, private Catholic schools, private libertarian type schools, some of the old prep schools near Boston, public schools no larger than a small dot, State Universities, University of Chicago,, Ivy Leagues and the Sorbonne. When we were first married we aspired to the encouraging words of an old aristocratic French Bishop delivered some thirty years ago on his silver Jubilee: “ And I wish that, in these troubled times, in this degenerate urban atmosphere in which we are living, that you return to the land whenever possible. The land is healthy; the land teaches one to know God; the land draws one to God; it calms temperaments, characters, and encourages the children to work.
And if it is necessary, yes, you yourselves will make the school for your children. If the schools should corrupt your children, what are you going to do? Deliver them to the corrupters?. Are you to put up with that? It is inconceivable! Rather your children be poor—that they be removed from this apparent science that the world possesses—but that they be good children, Christian children, Catholic children, who love their holy religion, who love to pray, and who love to work; children who love the earth which the Good God has made.” I of course love each of my children very much and am impressed with their resilience towards total corruption but to be honest, after a lifetime of trying, I am now simply staggering towards the finish line with a trace of hope in that mercy Pope Francis is so fond of preaching.
“…those who make it through the system think that they are the best educated and most enlightened generation in human history.” I am fortunate to have had a rigorous education at a Catholic college that was all female at the time. Sadly, in order to survive, it became co-educational. I recall before graduation my philosophy professor said and I paraphrase, “You are completing your education here and are ready to apply it to the world, but be aware that the world will respond and say, “sit down my child and let me teach you the ABCs”. He was a wise man, a Jesuit.
Thank you for your comment. I really liked those old Jesuits. One who is in his nineties, recently told me he thought each one of them should be ordered back to some nearby cave to spend 30 days with their founder, St. Ignatius, and his exercises. He said it could change the entire order for the better.
I attended an all male college that has become coed. I am referring to the Naval Academy of the last half of the 1960s. After women were allowed to attend, it was clear that the men and women were cultural opposites. The men tended to have traditional values and views and the women tended to have liberal (feminist) values and views. Now, the men are more like the women, whose views have not changed much over time. Recently, the Superintendent of the Academy, speaking about an ongoing review of the Academy’s honor system, noted that incoming midshipmen have different (deficient) beliefs concerning honesty and integrity because of societal changes. Previously, any violation of the honor concept almost always resulted in dismissal of the offender. Now it is not uncommon for an offender to be given a second and even a third chance to comply.
About 20 percent of midshipmen are female. Now that all combat positions are open to women, will applications from women decline? Apparently, there has not been a rush by women in the Army and Marine Corps to apply for ground combat billets. None of the women who passed a recent infantry qualification test have requested infantry service.