Stay off the bus

The buses are lined up at the terminal, brand new government vehicles with attractive logos on the side.  Free rides are offered to exotic locations.  Intelligent-looking PhDs sit in the drivers' seats.  Well-made signs advertise the benefits of each (slightly fuzzy) destination.  Members of Congress sit in the stands admiring their work, separated by barriers from the rest. 

Yet, something is wrong.  While a few have anxiously boarded, most of the people are resisting.  The crowd is becoming agitated and angry.  The chief community organizer coordinator consults his advisors, "Why are these people resisting?  Don't they understand I, I mean we, know what is best for them?"  The advisors are puzzled, "We are the elite and know more than they.  There cannot possibly be any objection to our superior wisdom, they must have been sent by someone.  They must be fakes."   The chief coordinator agrees, "They aren't smart enough to think for themselves, there must be some radio talk show host behind it.  Never mind, force them on or lie to them.  We won, tell them to keep quiet!" 

The intellectual elite have chosen the destination for the buses.  They see us as needing their benevolent guidance, since we don't have their level of "sophistication."  Such arrogance is the road to tyranny, as warned by writer C. S. Lewis.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.

When the government is coercing its citizens with 1000+ page laws, the nation is not on the road to tyranny, it is already there!

In a dramatic scene from the movie Dr. Zhivago, the characters are being relocated in a freight car.  In the corner is a prisoner in chains who berates them for not resisting.  The people say nothing, and he finally gives up in disgust.  Perhaps Americans have been just as docile, but now are beginning to understand the destination.

Boarding the bus without knowing the destination were the hogs in the movie Babe who eagerly crowded onto the truck to the meat packing plant, thinking they were on the way to hog heaven.  I once had a co-worker who described his job at such a plant.  He was at the top of a ramp at the entry to the building.  His job was to kill the hogs as they came up the ramp.  Needless to say, the hogs ready to start up the ramp became very agitated (a mob?).  They were smart enough to see what was in store for them, but it was too late.

Ronald Reagan declined to board the intellectuals' bus, often passing over advice from them.  As Peggy Noonan says in When Character Was King,

For instance, he did not think that people with great degrees or great success were necessarily smart.  He had little interest in credentials.  He once told me -- he told a lot of people -- that an economist was a person with a Phi Beta Kappa key on one end of his watch chain and nothing on the other.  Meaning:  A lot of them don't know what time it is.

He didn't dislike intellectuals, and to the extent he had heroes a lot of them were intellectuals -- Madison, Jefferson, the founders -- and in his own time Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Whittaker Chambers.  But in general he did not favor the intellectuals of his time because he found so many of them to be high-IQ dimwits.  He had a natural and instinctive agreement with George Orwell's famous putdown that a particular idea was so stupid only an intellectual would believe it.

Implementing the ideas of such intellectuals can result in disaster.  Pol Pot was merely putting into practice the philosophical principles he learned from intellectuals while living in France, driving his bus on the route they mapped out, until it had a head-on crash with reality.  When the philosophical principle is self-sacrifice, voluntary or forced, the logical destinations are places like the killing fields, the Gulag, and Auschwitz.

Recent events caused me to dust off my copy of The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff (1982), which demonstrates the parallels of our situation to pre-Hitler Germany.  Dr. Peikoff discusses the role of philosophy and the intellectuals:

The root cause of Nazism lies in a power that most people ignore, disparage -- and underestimate.  The cause is not the events hailed or cursed in headlines and street rallies, but the esoteric writings of the professors who, decades or centuries earlier, laid the foundation for those events.

"[The Nazi] death camps," notes a writer* in the New York Times, "were conceived, built and often administered by Ph.D.'s"

Dr. Peikoff describes the roots of today's revolt:

The hope of the United States lies in the philosophical breach between the American people and the intellectuals

The people admire material wealth, practical success, technological innovation.  The intellectuals dismiss such values as "middle class," and say that machines are destroying the globe.  The people admire self-reliance, productiveness, and the other virtues of the so-called "work ethic."  The intellectuals say that these virtues are impossible, unnecessary, antisocial, and/or "Puritan compulsiveness." 

The people approve of personal ambition, are eager to pursue their own happiness, think that a man should not live on handouts but should earn what he gets, and reject the insistent demands for self-immolation.  The intellectuals denounce this - every element of it - as selfish and therefore vicious. 

The people hotly reject the proliferating manifestations of the welfare state, from soaring welfare rolls to forced busing to sexual quotas.  The intellectuals condemn this as unfeeling, racist, "sexist." 

Leonard Peikoff's observations are just as valid, maybe more so, than 27 years ago.  The gap between the people and the intellectual elites has become a chasm, into which the elites are about to fall.

*(Fred Hechinger, "Educators Seek to Teach Context of the Holocaust," May 15, 1979)
The buses are lined up at the terminal, brand new government vehicles with attractive logos on the side.  Free rides are offered to exotic locations.  Intelligent-looking PhDs sit in the drivers' seats.  Well-made signs advertise the benefits of each (slightly fuzzy) destination.  Members of Congress sit in the stands admiring their work, separated by barriers from the rest. 

Yet, something is wrong.  While a few have anxiously boarded, most of the people are resisting.  The crowd is becoming agitated and angry.  The chief community organizer coordinator consults his advisors, "Why are these people resisting?  Don't they understand I, I mean we, know what is best for them?"  The advisors are puzzled, "We are the elite and know more than they.  There cannot possibly be any objection to our superior wisdom, they must have been sent by someone.  They must be fakes."   The chief coordinator agrees, "They aren't smart enough to think for themselves, there must be some radio talk show host behind it.  Never mind, force them on or lie to them.  We won, tell them to keep quiet!" 

The intellectual elite have chosen the destination for the buses.  They see us as needing their benevolent guidance, since we don't have their level of "sophistication."  Such arrogance is the road to tyranny, as warned by writer C. S. Lewis.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.

When the government is coercing its citizens with 1000+ page laws, the nation is not on the road to tyranny, it is already there!

In a dramatic scene from the movie Dr. Zhivago, the characters are being relocated in a freight car.  In the corner is a prisoner in chains who berates them for not resisting.  The people say nothing, and he finally gives up in disgust.  Perhaps Americans have been just as docile, but now are beginning to understand the destination.

Boarding the bus without knowing the destination were the hogs in the movie Babe who eagerly crowded onto the truck to the meat packing plant, thinking they were on the way to hog heaven.  I once had a co-worker who described his job at such a plant.  He was at the top of a ramp at the entry to the building.  His job was to kill the hogs as they came up the ramp.  Needless to say, the hogs ready to start up the ramp became very agitated (a mob?).  They were smart enough to see what was in store for them, but it was too late.

Ronald Reagan declined to board the intellectuals' bus, often passing over advice from them.  As Peggy Noonan says in When Character Was King,

For instance, he did not think that people with great degrees or great success were necessarily smart.  He had little interest in credentials.  He once told me -- he told a lot of people -- that an economist was a person with a Phi Beta Kappa key on one end of his watch chain and nothing on the other.  Meaning:  A lot of them don't know what time it is.

He didn't dislike intellectuals, and to the extent he had heroes a lot of them were intellectuals -- Madison, Jefferson, the founders -- and in his own time Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Whittaker Chambers.  But in general he did not favor the intellectuals of his time because he found so many of them to be high-IQ dimwits.  He had a natural and instinctive agreement with George Orwell's famous putdown that a particular idea was so stupid only an intellectual would believe it.

Implementing the ideas of such intellectuals can result in disaster.  Pol Pot was merely putting into practice the philosophical principles he learned from intellectuals while living in France, driving his bus on the route they mapped out, until it had a head-on crash with reality.  When the philosophical principle is self-sacrifice, voluntary or forced, the logical destinations are places like the killing fields, the Gulag, and Auschwitz.

Recent events caused me to dust off my copy of The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff (1982), which demonstrates the parallels of our situation to pre-Hitler Germany.  Dr. Peikoff discusses the role of philosophy and the intellectuals:

The root cause of Nazism lies in a power that most people ignore, disparage -- and underestimate.  The cause is not the events hailed or cursed in headlines and street rallies, but the esoteric writings of the professors who, decades or centuries earlier, laid the foundation for those events.

"[The Nazi] death camps," notes a writer* in the New York Times, "were conceived, built and often administered by Ph.D.'s"

Dr. Peikoff describes the roots of today's revolt:

The hope of the United States lies in the philosophical breach between the American people and the intellectuals

The people admire material wealth, practical success, technological innovation.  The intellectuals dismiss such values as "middle class," and say that machines are destroying the globe.  The people admire self-reliance, productiveness, and the other virtues of the so-called "work ethic."  The intellectuals say that these virtues are impossible, unnecessary, antisocial, and/or "Puritan compulsiveness." 

The people approve of personal ambition, are eager to pursue their own happiness, think that a man should not live on handouts but should earn what he gets, and reject the insistent demands for self-immolation.  The intellectuals denounce this - every element of it - as selfish and therefore vicious. 

The people hotly reject the proliferating manifestations of the welfare state, from soaring welfare rolls to forced busing to sexual quotas.  The intellectuals condemn this as unfeeling, racist, "sexist." 

Leonard Peikoff's observations are just as valid, maybe more so, than 27 years ago.  The gap between the people and the intellectual elites has become a chasm, into which the elites are about to fall.

*(Fred Hechinger, "Educators Seek to Teach Context of the Holocaust," May 15, 1979)