Instability Caused by Anti-Intellectualism and Post-Truth
Originally Published: 12/January/2017
Looking back on society over the past few decades to the present day, it can be looked upon as a period of Anti-Intellectualism, or with focus on when these writings began in 2016, a more defined beginning with the start of the Post-Truth era, where facts and figures are totally ignored to be replaced with emotional decision making. Looking in an historically context we can see how communism got a foot hold by playing to people’s emotions culminating with the Bolshevik Revolution, Cambodian Revolution, Division of the Korean Peninsula, or the Chinese Revolution. From history to present day, we even have the modern phenomena of post-truth emotional being a massive driver in decision making especially in an ever more connected world that is ripe for mass hysteria, which has ended in regressive moments such as Donald Trump’s successful presidential election or Brexit. We can justly conclude that it is in these moments, and without understanding to the long term repercussive effects, that this way of thinking will have negative effects on the many sectors of society.
On one hand, the rise of anti-intellectualism and post-truth can be understood, and to a point sympathy can be given to those most affected, by those who practise it as an economic last stand bastion of hope, as they are totally disenfranchised with how the world works and operates. Understanding how the rapid movement of economies from one type of industry to another due to technology and cost saving business techniques by moving jobs to different countries, thanks to an agenda of globalisation without thought of actionable consequence, has these post-truth mind-sets finding solace in this movement as it is perceived to be sympathetic to their loss and pain. This can be looked upon as a conscious reaction to the individual’s reality of their situation. They see the game being rigged and no matter what they do it is futile in airing grievances to rebalance what has been lost through policy measures. This is understandable as in this currently turbulent world, you need something to give you hope, which often come in the form of ideology.
On the other hand however, certain mind-sets can be easily influenced through poor levels of education, poor food quality, being raised in a certain type of culture such as a consumer culture, taking social media news as gospel truth without research, and constant bombardment of shock news to increase viewership for media outlets. All are external factors to seeding divisional notions and molding these thoughts. This is more so an unconscious reaction to the individuals reality and can help cement their conscious reality of their current situation.
The conscious and unconscious factors in propagating the anti-intellectualism movement, on both sides of the political spectrum may I add, can have impacts in the governance of a country. This leads to right and left leaning ideologies becoming belligerently extreme in the form of untethered populism and having these opportunist politicians engaging in their respective political persuasions of populism. George Carlin says it best;
“If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to have selfish, ignorant leaders”
Need for a Rebrand to Anti-Rationalism as Those Who Practice Anti-Rationalism Are Anti-Humanity
A rebrand of the anti-intellectualism label is needed as it is a label that describes a certain level of conceitedness about it by those who think of themselves to be a part of the intellectual class. This can give a delusion of grandeur or superiority to those who are fortunate enough to have gotten a high degree of education or have the ability to think, process, present, and debate a deeper understanding of a subject. May I also include that education does not for one instance equal intelligence, but it sure does give some sort of indicator to it.
This cultivated superiority complex and the ego that follow along with it for those residing in the intelligentsia class and above, must need to understand the privilege of those opportunities that they have been given and capitalised upon. It is then the responsibility of those to in the intelligentsia to refute the implicated position of societal superiority. Instead, there must be a need to open up the intelligentsia class to everyone who wishes to reach that level of education only available to a certain level within society and be inclusive of everyone on every rung of the social ladder. A persons worth should be based on their merit and nothing else. So even though the growing political will to attempt education reversion is strong, especially in places like Waterford with the third level system, you can’t help but notice the startling similarities to 18th century France between the political class and everyday man, forcing a modern day push back of scientific and rational conversation.
This rebrand should therefore forget the current anti-intellectualism name of the movement’s proponents and move to something more befitting of the practitioners. I would propose the changing of anti-intellectualism to anti-rationalism, as the lack of impact or total disregard for hard facts and figures that those who practise anti-rationalism, can be looked upon as being anti-humanitarian, in their attempts to harm the progress of humanity through various movements, such as; anti-vaccinators, anti-education, anti-establishment, anti-science, anti-technology, flat earth believers, and climate change deniers.
Need for Opportunities to be given to People to be Educated to a High Standard
First a description of education needs to be understood before continuing. Education in this instance is not to be misconstrued as schooling. Schooling is only useful to squash creativity, institutionalise students, prepare you for operating a machine, and benefit those who are superior at regurgitation and have no originality.
Education is the key to unlocking the doors you wish to go through in order to achieve a better life for yourself. Again, not to get confused with schooling where you are drilled to think and act in a certain way, education can expose you to a variety of thoughts, give you the tools to interpret those thoughts, and to discuss your viewpoints with others in order to expand your observations of the world around you. Education gives you the means to get creative and become innovative in the way you know is best for you, so you can enhance your life and the lives of those around you.
Education is the essential ingredient in allowing you to recognise and capitalise on opportunities when they arise. When this vital part of the human experience is being denied to those who cannot afford it or can see it slowly be taken away, bitterness and anger can set in, which can lead to drastic actions being taken. A very extreme example is Hitler not getting into Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.
Everyone should be allowed to avail of a high degree of education as it can only benefit a nation, as a highly educated population will think in stoic terms when it comes to information from a variety of platforms. It will not immediately jump to conclusions, and not get caught up in a frenzy of group think that can put a dangerous person into leadership positions which has been historically shown that such a person can leave a legacy of dire ramifications in some form or another, that when going forward into the future will manifest itself in maleficent ways.
Understanding the perspective of the anti-rationalism movement and where they come from is important, as those who have held the mantle of being in the intelligentsia class and above have been portrayed as taking everything and not giving anything back. This has led to revolutions like Lenin in Russia, Pot in Cambodia, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, al-Baghdadi with Daesh in Syria, and Donald Trump in America. However it’s easy to forget those of the intelligentsia class who have not been vilified but have kept silent and contributed so much to the world through medicine, education, knowledge, communications, transportation, water and sewage, food, and many more areas.
Anti-rationalism stunts economic growth through instability from politics to markets. This can lead to drops in the welfare of the people through increased social unrest from job losses to increases in confusion and anger of the decisions taken that have led to said job losses. This anger turns to hatred which can manifest in to things like racism, classism, and denial of good constructive progress for humanity in the form of something like anti-vaccinations.
A solution, or at least an attempt at a solution, would be to start with the following; that everyone is given an opportunity to get a high standard of education, and to let there be opportunity for those hit worst through short term thinking in regards to globalism and causality to be re-educated over time that will be dependent on their residential national economy. A level of political reformation is needed to prevent political dynasties from cropping up and patricians forming that can lead to plotting through legacy feuds in a show of political one-man-up-ship. A level of media outlet reformation to differentiate between opinion pieces, opinion pieces masquerading as facts, and actual unbiased and cited factual news. A level of responsibility is needed to take the time to research an opinion first and to use stoicism in decision making so as to not be swept up in social or fiscal madness such as presidential campaigns, black Friday sales, online scams like Kony 2012, financial bubbles, or followers of trends such as the current wave of SJW’s that have progressed from “hipsters”.
Jonathan McEvoy is an Irish based border control post inspector for the Irish Government and Europe Union who took up his role in 2019 in response to British withdrawal of trade agreements, which was a position taken up after time spent working within the financial services sector in Dubai. He is an economics and finance postgraduate from Waterford Institute of Technology and a community stalwart in his home city of Waterford having been elected to serve on many boards of directors around the city in a voluntary capacity. His love of writing has a deep theme of economics in every published article which talk about history, philosophy, finance, politics, and society. His writings are grounded in practical observations away from the theoretical hypothesis of hypothetical potentials. If you are looking for a modern digestible viewpoint on modern economic ideas with a focus practicality and no holding back, he is a writer for you.
Find Jonathan on the social platforms @jonathanmcev0y
Books Out Now
Essays | Economics Thoughts of a Worker