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Red Hot Take: On “Anti-Intellectualism”

December 22, 2016

File under “Tim’s Unpopular Political-Cultural Hot Takes”:

We do not live in “era of virulent anti-intellectualism.”* Nobody cares that much about intellectuals, and no one is seriously opposed to the creativity and complexity implied in “the life of the mind.”

We do, however, live in an age of anti-elitism, manifest primarily as anti-expertise. We live amidst a revolt against technocratic policy expertise. That’s all being chucked in favor of business expertise, or some facsimile thereof, which has been uplifted by bad ideas.

Regarding intellectualism, if anything, there is a tendency, in various media, to overintellectualize most everything. In politics, this turns what should be routine matters of justice and equality (or injustice and inequality) into fine-grained, useless abstract debates about impractical ideas. We have think tanks that remove the practical from policies, abstracting things into the so-called “market of ideas.” This renders those useful policies useless to common people. We are awash in bad ideas, which inform that overintellectualization.

– TL

*This hot take was inspired by my reaction to the introduction and conclusion to this article, forwarded by my friend Ben Alpers.

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