14 March 2010

Divine Right Of Kings Making A Comeback?

**Update: Vindication? "An overwhelming majority of Americans (81%) continue to believe that people learn more practical skills through life experiences and work after college rather than in college." Details here. Great timing, no?

James Lewis (a pen name, I believe) of American Thinker raises some fascinating and enlightening points regarding academia, elitists, and modern politics in his piece today.  He introduces his piece this way:

"Are Liberals, Atheists More Evolved than Conservatives?' National Geographic asks this profound question in a first screen headline on its website. By "evolved," they say they mean "biologically evolved," although, curiously, the original researcher used the wrong kind of IQ measure for the biological component of intelligence."

After reading Lewis's piece, I was reminded of a recent comment by a historian in response to a post at Civil Warriors:

how does ones scholarship and study shape their political views. Why is it that people who study history professionally tend to be more liberal politically? Is there something about being informed that makes one liberal? (Does “truth” have a liberal bias?)

**And of course, there is the question of what does “liberal” mean?

It is the aforementioned supposition that the more someone knows about history the more likely they are to be liberal and the less they know, the more likely they are to be conservative.
After reading the comment at Civil Warriors, the first thought that came to my mind was the fact that the supposition referred to (I'm not suggesting the writer embraces the supposition - just using the comment to illustrate a point) above is a fallacy, in that this is a recent phenomenon in the study of history and in academia generally. It also begs the question: Knows what about history?

Lewis makes the same observation in his piece:

But what about IQ differences between liberals and conservatives? It's an odd question, in a way, since almost all educated people before the 20th century in Western countries were conservatives. Today's conservatives revere such intelligent people as Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Edmund Burke, Thomas Jefferson, Confucius, Abraham Lincoln, Adam Smith, Nobelist Milton Friedman, William Buckley, and thousands of others. Patrick O'Brian's novels of the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic wars are filled with supremely intelligent people, with nary a Leftist among them. Nor any atheists, for that matter. So National Geographic's vast, unfathomable ignorance is showing, as it does so often these days. 
Lewis also echoes a point I've often raised here; to wit: elitism and it's Siamese twin, arrogance, are blinding vices:

The National Geographic headline is therefore characteristically absurd, but it's also typical of the cultural Left today -- and of its hopeless cravings to validate itself as being smarter, better-educated, and of course, more compassionate than those conservative throwbacks to a brute past. 

But, as I've also noted numerous times, Lewis points out that reality and experience trump theory and arrogance:

And somehow liberals never get to the most obvious question, which is: Why has the Left ended up killing 100 million people in the 20th century, according to French Marxist historian Courtois and his team? That's the real question the Left must always be made to answer: Why does its blind "idealism" and its unquenchable power-craving lead to such disastrous results, over and over again? Why does the British medical system have patients parked on gurneys in dirty hallways? Why are their waiting times for life-saving operations so much longer than ours? Why does Prime Minister Gordon Brown advocate using your organs after you die without your permission?
This observation echoes what Dr. Thomas Sowell has pointed out in his recent book, Intellectuals and Society:

"Scarcely a mass-murdering dictator of the twentieth century was without his intellectual supporters, not simply in his own country, but also in foreign democracies . . . Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler all had their admirers, defenders and apologists among the intelligentsia in Western democratic nations, despite the fact that these dictators each ended up killing people of their own country on a scale unprecedented even by despotic regimes that preceded them."~ Dr. Thomas Sowell 
(See: This post )

Thomas Lifton, a former academic at both Harvard and Columbia University and now editor and publisher at American Thinker has this line in his bio: "A Democrat by birth, he became more conservative in adulthood as reality taught him that dreams of perfecting human society always runs smack into human nature." (Emphasis mine).

Reality. Not classroom theories put forth by those in ivory towers who are, for the most part, insulated from much of the reality of the marketplace and how "theories" actually play out in the real world. Experience, though an unforgiving tutor, is much better at teaching us truth than one who lectures and simply teaches what they've been taught. As someone once said, "Experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is high."

** This is an excellent question, and one to which I'm sure the poster knows the answer. "Liberal", in the classical sense, can be traced to the works of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Adam Smith - all writings which greatly influenced our Founding Fathers. These men were "liberal" in the sense they argued for the liberty and freedom which come from inalienable (God-given) rights. They believed legitimate power came only when granted to the state by the "consent of the governed." Regarding economics, classical liberals in the 18th and 19th century called for the end of state meddling in the economy. Adam Smith opined that free markets were far more efficient (and just) at promoting prosperity and distributing goods and services than was an economy controlled by the government.

This concept of self-government was in contrast to the established "divine right" of kings; something which many statists and elitists seem to now embrace - at least in the abstract - as long as it is they who are the "kings." They are, unwittingly, "conservatives" as opposed to true classical liberalism in that they think only they have the right to rule the rest of us due, not to their blood lines as kings, but to their ostensibly superior intelligence. Now comes the National Geographic piece ridiculously suggesting that, perhaps, it is their "superior blood-line" ("biological component") that makes them "more intelligent" and "more evolved" and, thus, superior. They are getting closer to the divine right of kings with every passing day. The political label of "liberal" today (or the one liberals are trying to repackage themselves with, "progressive"), is simply a return to a very "unliberal" view of governance and ordering of society: a class of supposedly superior members of society who make freedom-stifling rules and regulations for those who they look upon not much differently than how kings once viewed their subjects. Kings once believed it was God who had annointed them with their power. Since science and "intelligence" is the god of many in government and academia, perhaps they, too, believe their god has annointed and chosen them to rule the rest of us.

Experience and reality would teach us otherwise.

(Image is of King Charles I of England)

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