posted on Feb, 27 2006 @ 09:49 PM
1. The anti-intellectuallism in America is long-term and systemic.
It didn't start with Bush taking office in 2000, or even with republican control of congress in 1992-1994. It's ridiculous to try and affix blame
on one party, when it permeates all sectors of society. Try a few of these on for size:
A. The subsidizing of college.
Things like widespread student loans and the GI bill after ww2 were intended to allow more people to get an education, but the net effect was to
create a capitalist economy of scale which affects all higher education in the US. A lot of people can go to college who, frankly, were never
really college material. They were coddled through 12 years of education, and simply don't have the skills to grapple with a classical education.
B. The demise of literary culture
With the advent of motion pictures and TV, the emphasis was automatically put on sensation over congition. You can participate in TV,
even if you cannot appreciate the subtleties of the plot; and since nuance takes extra effort but doesn't pay, the producers just drop it.
C. The rise of service/consumer economy
Since ww2, the US economy has shifted from industrial production to service and consumption. This means there are fewer technical, skilled jobs, and
more low-wage, service-counter jobs. The driving force of the economy is individual consumption of goods produced overseas. Consumption doesn't
require eduction; in fact people consume more instinctively when they cannot do math. Just look at the way cars are sold in the USA: "The price tag
doesn't matter--just worry about your monthly payment." "You deserve a new car." And the salesman's classic phrase, "What's it gonna
take to put you into a new car TODAY!?"
2. The moneyed classes are just as victimized by the anti-intellectual climate in US, as everyone else.
A. The moneyed classes tend to be intellectual. And when "smarts" are ridiculed, their own children don't want to exert themselves
to survive the "hassle" of college. Instead of creating a stable class structure which should favor the elite, their own children refuse to
participate in the very institutions which guarantee their elite status. How many ski bums and folk musicians are the children of moneyed
professional people? A lot; and they rely on family wealth without contributing to it.
B. The fact that politics is now basically a beauty pageant selects against the elite.
There was a time when intellectuals ran society by virtue of education and expertise. Presidents had law degree at a time when most practicing
lawyers didn't have one. US presidents were intellectuals, men like Woodrow Wilson, who retired from politics to be the president of the University
of Texas; or Garfield, who had been (if I remember right) a college president prior to entering politics.
Those days are long gone. Since Eisenhower, it would be difficult to name an intellectual president aside from JFK. Well-educated, still, but
hardly leading lights. Clinton was a professor at the University of Arkansas, but from what I could find he hardly taught any classes, and was given
the post as a sop until the next governor's race where he could run.
The net effect has been to lessen the intelligensia's grip on politics, and leave it open to the highest bidder. And american wealth is so fleeting
that it's impossible to predict who will be running the economy in 10 years. In 1996, Kennethy Lay (Enron) was looking to be one of the richest men