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ELITES: Is intellect a test of truth?

Letter by Arne Herstad, Gig Harbor on March 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm with 35 Comments »
March 8, 2012 4:06 pm

Re: “If being an elitist is wrong, then I don’t what to be right” (TNT, 3-8).

Kevin Horrigan decries the debasement of candidates forced to play to the “cheap seats,” citing an “anti-intellectualism that has been a consistent theme throughout American history.” He may be right about a theme, but there may be another way to look at it.

Americans aren’t typically anti-intellectual. If we were, we’d still have the queen’s face on our money, and the intellectual ferment of Colonial times that shed the chains of tyranny would never be spoken of today, much less revered.

Intellectuals were cool, because they were pulling on the same oar as the rest of us. Like us, they had bodies and souls to feed. So how were they different?

They weren’t. They understood their gift and the responsibilities that go with it. But now something’s different, ushered in by the suffix “ism.” This “ism” turned secular schools of thought (or pools of money) into quasi religions and their intellectuals into priests of other orders.

Not all of them are pulling at the same oar as the rest of us. Worse, some have been observed building lifeboats for themselves and drilling holes in the bottoms of others.

If intellect were the test of truth, then everyone with brains would stop drilling in boats. Clearly there’s something else at play here. Find out what, and maybe we can start drilling in the right places.

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Leave a comment Comments → 35
  1. cargilekm says:

    WHAT !!! I guess I’am not enough of an elitist intellect to understand this letter. Sorry

  2. aislander says:

    …such as ANWAR!

  3. LornaDoone says:

    Only a Thesaurus devotee would endorse this convoluted piece. On hyperbolic assertion after another.

  4. cargilekm says:

    Still don’t get the thread of this letter. ANWAR ?? What’s that supposed to mean?

  5. old_benjamin says:

    Artic National Wildlife Reserve

  6. No, I think aislander was really referring to Elites named ANWAR as in

    Anwar al-Awlaki, Yemeni-American al-Qaeda leader

    Anwar is the English transliteration of two Arabic names commonly used in the Muslim world: the male given name ʼAnwar (أنور), meaning “luminous” or the female given name ʼAnwār (أنوار), meaning “a collection of lights.” Both names may also be encountered as surnames.

  7. There is a huge difference between Intellect and Intellectual.

    Anti-intellectualism is oftentimes led by individuals with fairly impressive intellects. If you had some intellectual curiosity you would do a little internet research and read what others have written about the history of anti-intellectualism in America.

    Better yet, read a book. I suggest Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter

  8. aislander says:

    The last sentence averred that we may be able to drill in the “right places.” ANWAR!

  9. aislander says:

    As for intellectualism, beerBoy (and I knew you had to be all over this topic), I’m throwing in with Orwell…

  10. Isn’t “elite” a synonym for “snob”?

    Perhaps we should ask Rick Santorum.

  11. bobcat1a says:

    “A group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, talent, or wealth.”
    Looks like Mittens has the bases covered. Don’t all of the candidates fit the definition?

  12. Like many anti-intellectual Intellects, aislander has posted a terse and fairly obscure response to demonstrate how well read he is without really considering the full ramifications of what he has implied. To whit:

    the other crucial dimension to Orwell’s socialism was his recognition that the Soviet Union was not socialist. Unlike many on the left, instead of abandoning socialism once he discovered the full horror of Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union, Orwell abandoned the Soviet Union and instead remained a socialist — indeed he became more committed to the socialist cause than ever.”
    http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj62/newsinger.htm

    Just as the Right has tried to appropriate MLKjr as one of their own while ignoring the overtly socialist overtones of his work (google “Poor People’s Campaign”), they have attempted to take Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 and twist them into Libertarian messages while ignoring the continued socialistic view Orwell kept throughout his life.

  13. are italics off?

  14. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    bobcat, the definition of the word “elite” is not what Aren was referring to. You need to add the suffixes “ist” or “ism” to get the proper definition of the words in question; e.g.:

    e·lit·ism
    n.
    1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
    2.
    a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
    b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

    Or:

    e·lit·ist
    n:
    1. A person who believes that a system or society should be ruled or dominated by an elite.
    Adjective:
    1. Favoring, advocating, or restricted to an elite.

    A bit less innocuous, wouldn’t you agree? Not the root of the word, to which all should aspire… unless, that is, you are intending to defend elitism and/ or elitists.

  15. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    bB, what’s your secret for turning stuck html code off? I’m guilty of starting all-italics in another thread.

  16. Well I’m not very bright but it seems to me that everyone pulling on the same oar is counterproductive, unless of course you enjoy going in circles.

    Elitism is born out of arrogance, and a false sense of one’s intellectual superiority. Thus “the left” wins the prize for conducting themselves in an elitist fashion more frequently than their counterparts.

    It’s all part of the master-slave mentality, and I find it curious how few folks are able to see the obvious.

    Master says, “Don’t worry your little head about what’s going on up at the big house. I’m taking care of you. Here’s your stamps to get food, and of course free birth control (you folks really need to stop procreating). The schools will be open and your kids will learn everything they need to know to function well in this society. They don’t need to strain their little brains learning how to think. We’ll do that for them. Now off you go…and don’t forget to vote!”

  17. Sozo cannot not see the oblivions, which is that right-wing elitism includes christians, the rich, and big corporations, and that the conservative master-slave relation workers and the middle class exist for the comfort and convenience of the rich and powerful.

  18. The point of this letter is: our elitist elected representatives cater to many “isms” to stay in office. They are smarter than you or I and they impugn our intellect,(drill holes in your boat), if you disagree or question one of their sacred “isms”.

    Obama-ism is the danger. The Keystone pipe line debate is a perfect example. Before that, global warming won the day. We are still debating Obama-Care and the economy still languishes.

    The price of food, gasoline, and practically everything increases each day under the intellectual guidance of elitists in office.

  19. aislander says:

    beerBoy: I was referring to Orwell’s epigram that begins, “Some ideas are so absurd…” That he considered himself a socialist didn’t make him wrong in the first instance as well.

    xring: That was one fat bolus of cliches. You are funny…

  20. sevenstrokeroll says:

    It’s not that the progressive side has ever reffered to themselves as “elite”. No actually, as conservatives have a tendency to be people of faith, they must suspend their reasoning and label progressives as “elite”. Likely just a responce to putting a Bush in the White House (twice?) then propping up a Palin as a viable csndidate. How embarrassing that has been for the right wing? Oh VERY!

    One can’t fix stupid so the best move the neotheocons can do is label their generally vastly superior opponents in the worst way possible. Stir up their base, but fools no one else and is lambasted nightly by the Daily Show and Colbert. Trite republitards…very trite.

  21. aislander says:

    What a perfect addition to a thread on intellectualism–bad examples are useful in their own way…

  22. Sonofwashington says:

    Elitism, thy name is Republicanism, the philosophical notion that men are created evil and therefore the masses should be guided by a special group of ‘wiser’ men (not necessarily women) who have the insight, wisdom, and wealth (property owners, mainly) to guide the lesser folk with all the regulations necessary to keep them in their place. Of course, the elites will husband the country’s resources to ensure they have ample medical care, access to education and advancement, and unfettered transfer of family wealth, keeping the country’s enlightened leadership in the hands of a few, select family dynasties. The masses, of course, will be privileged to serve these fine folks by sacrificing their own livelihoods and assuming an ever greater share of the tax burden in the vain hope that someday, somehow, they too will be able to tap into those elusive riches.

  23. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    One can’t fix stupid so the best move the neotheocons can do is label their generally vastly superior opponents in the worst way possible.

    LOL, what a perfect addition to a thread on elitism.

    Stir up their base, but fools no one else and is lambasted nightly by the Daily Show and Colbert.

    They say it… must be true, ‘eh?

  24. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    Can’t help noticing who has taken the thread from commenting on “elitists/ elitism”, to laughable attempts to show who most deserves the term.

    Guilty feelings much?

    Try to keep up, liberal apologists, their is plenty of elitism and elitists to go around. Grow up, this is not a philosophical issue – it crosses all party lines.

  25. pantomancer says:

    Is intellect a test of truth? Nope, just means you’re a better liar.

  26. vox – respond with a post with only the close italics code immediately after you forget to close the italics. If someone else posts before you do, it will get stuck on.

  27. “…such as ANWAR!”

    Seriously? ANWAR? To come up with that at this point in time after all the facts about ANWAR are known is to demonstrate a clear ‘anti-intellectual’ position.
    Drilling in ANWAR or anywhere for that matter, ‘drill baby drill’ as it were, would not produce the results claimed by those pushing it, and everyone knows it.

  28. “e·lit·ism
    n.
    1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
    2.
    a. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
    b. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.”

    What a great description of todays republican/right wing!

  29. “Elitism is born out of arrogance, and a false sense of one’s intellectual superiority. Thus “the left” wins the prize for conducting themselves in an elitist fashion more frequently than their counterparts.”

    Other than your own elitist and hypocritical opinion what evidence do you have of this?
    If you want arrogance just listen to your republican candidates and office holders, they have it in spades!

  30. “Can’t help noticing who has taken the thread from commenting on “elitists/ elitism”, to laughable attempts to show who most deserves the term.”

    I know! When I read the ‘master slave relationship” and ANWAR/Orwell I about spit coffee out my nose!

  31. You are correct, I cannot see “the oblivions.” I thought that was a rock group.

  32. LornaDoone says:

    a group of rocks is something used for a fracking study

  33. “the oblivions.

    Spelling smack, the last vestige of the beaten.

  34. Personal attacks, another of the last vestiges of the beaten.

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