The Myth of the Incorrigible American Genius

If I'm to concede a point to the advocates of diversity, it is that having multiple perspectives on certain practical matters is greatly beneficial.  Men, who can confuse custom for righteousness, are oftentimes so blind to the unreasonableness of their own traditions and the possibility of better paths, that they frequently ostracize and persecute the greatest of visionaries and prophets, and stagnate in cesspools of their own willful ignorance.

To put this another way, to think forwardly is to think things that others have either forgotten or things they have never thought, but it is always certainly to think things that nobody else is comfortable thinking.  To believe the things we believe today, we had to stop believing the things we believed yesterday.  To believe the things we will believe tomorrow, we will have to cease believing some things we believe today. 

True genius, in other words, is simply individualized thought -- and if it was not individual, seeing truths others do not see, and thus doing what others cannot do, it could not be truly genius.  But if we assume like the more intelligent social liberals that genius and civilization are mutually opposed -- that chastity and politeness and piety alike make war against progress and invention and heroism -- we will have mistakenly exchanged the former for an increasingly elusive latter.

People in the modern age frequently celebrate the advantages of diversity, but they rarely consider that diversity likewise leaves some short, some imbalanced, some needful -- some twisted and sick, some dangerous and deranged.  For diversity in itself cannot always be positive: if some excel, then others trail behind.  For every genius, there is a fool; for every hero, we find a dozen cowards.  If we then, knowing this to be true, teach that diversity itself is beneficial, we must also admit that only certain kinds thereof are worthy of toleration.

We arrive at a second conclusion if we consider further that natural gifts are particular, being allotted only to a choice few, but that the practice of virtue and manners is universal, being truly and physically practicable to everyone bearing the image of God.  Like the Apostle Paul declaring to the Corinthians that prophecy and miracles and tongues were intermittently dispersed by Divine will, but that love was for all Christians at all times, we see that the natural gifts of men cannot be said possessed by all -- that if they were, they would not be recognized as gifts -- but that virtue, like love, must be honed, defended, and advanced against all vice: that not every man may be a gifted architect, but that every man may be a good father; that not every man may be an excellent leader, but every man an honest neighbor.

If we say like Mill that the genius of men cannot come without moral annoyance, then we have thrown away the majority's guaranteed value for the minority's potential.  This is a fallacy which reduces neighbors to incontinence, while exalting only a few -- if in fact they are even more advantageously exalted.  It should seem fairly obvious to thinking men that effeminacy and homosexuality are not necessities for having good art; that bitchiness and a lack of manners are not necessary to a woman's usefulness; that there is a great difference between having different learning styles, being eccentric, and having an entrepreneurial and venturesome spirit, and being a willfully-ignorant, uncivilized, reckless person.  And if we believe that the few can carry the majority, then that is certainly one way of looking at society, but I believe that it is the tyrant's way.  The free man requires all men to be good, and a few to excel.  The slave requires an excellent master, and little to nothing of his neighbors.

I have heard educators speak many times about the value of developing children according to their talents, all the while speaking nothing of developing their virtue.  But whatever men say about the matter, though many believe such schooling to be a great advance of education, training a generation of productive heroes, without a concurrent education in virtue, it might as well train the next generation of supervillains.  For intelligence amongst the good brings forth Madisons and Lockes -- amongst the bad, maybe a Marx or a Rousseau.  Men skilled in rhetoric can be Churchills or Hitlers, those with charisma either George Washington or Jim Jones.  Considerable skill in engineering may eliminate dependence on oil, or it may build nuclear weapons for Syrian terrorists.

Whatever the skill, whatever the gift, its benefit to mankind depends not upon talent itself, but upon the character of those who wield it.  Therefore, all sensible men must be in agreement that the talents of mankind are not in themselves good, but are wholly and universally dependent upon the judgment, fortitude, and charity of their possessors.  Talent for the sake of civilization must be developed, but it is better to be in the company of the righteous layman and farmer than surrounded by impressively treacherous and barbarous men.  And if we believe that Einstein or Edison could have done well in a society of scoundrels, where every man was unjust and mollycoddled, possessing not healthy self-interest, but ugly selfishness, it must be asked exactly how far we should have expected them to succeed.  Without valiant soldiers, honest judges, vigilant citizens, and ethical working men of all kinds, Edisons and Einsteins may occasionally succeed, but true liberty in divine Law permits genius to flourish.  There was no Einstein in the book of Judges.  Every man doing what was right in his own eyes, industry perished, looting was rampant -- survival robbed men of their invention, and made the greatest of heroes not by science, but by sword.

To speak honestly of the matter, most truly incorrigible people amount to nothing more than a nuisance: not a nation of heroes and champions, but of rude children and emotionally retarded adults; harpy wives and useless husbands; unmannered customers and unhelpful staffs; bad drivers and bad neighbors; graceless women and men without honor; a litigious ghetto blaming everyone else for its own unpopularity, and the political parties which not only cater to them, but defend, subsidize, and thus promote their obnoxiousness with the sword of the state.  This is the myth of the incorrigible genius in full bloom, a towering ideology resembling the rare tropical flower beautiful to behold, but which reeks of rotting corpses.

But imagine a world in which children were trained according to their talents, but who also fell in love with Brutus and Lucretia, and thus preferred death to dishonor; or who adored Cato the younger, and thus who spoke honestly and justly under any and every threat; or who dreamed of being like King David, who trusted the Lord's purpose when times were darkest, and death seemed certain.  Likewise, imagine a world in which children hated Alcibiades for living in a corrupting and effeminate luxury; children who know that like with Mark Antony, vices become crimes; children who scorn tyrants like Ahab, and are wary of idolatrous Jezebels.  Children who build -- yet build only good things; who grow up to stir crowds to action -- but action against unjust men; who study political theory -- not to lord over their neighbors, but to defend lawful liberty like holy patriots.

Diversity -- how beautiful!  But diversity in talents and method, not in goodness; perhaps in color, but not in character.  Let us love one another for our gifts, but let us never by making gifts supreme cherish our faults, our vices, our perversities, trading our birthright, like Esau, for a bowl of stew, ruining the greatness of the image of God while seeking for heroes who in such a disgraceful manner may never be found.

Jeremy Egerer is a convert to Biblical conservatism from radical liberalism and the editor of the Seattle website www.americanclarity.com.  American Clarity welcomes friend requests on Facebook.

If I'm to concede a point to the advocates of diversity, it is that having multiple perspectives on certain practical matters is greatly beneficial.  Men, who can confuse custom for righteousness, are oftentimes so blind to the unreasonableness of their own traditions and the possibility of better paths, that they frequently ostracize and persecute the greatest of visionaries and prophets, and stagnate in cesspools of their own willful ignorance.

To put this another way, to think forwardly is to think things that others have either forgotten or things they have never thought, but it is always certainly to think things that nobody else is comfortable thinking.  To believe the things we believe today, we had to stop believing the things we believed yesterday.  To believe the things we will believe tomorrow, we will have to cease believing some things we believe today. 

True genius, in other words, is simply individualized thought -- and if it was not individual, seeing truths others do not see, and thus doing what others cannot do, it could not be truly genius.  But if we assume like the more intelligent social liberals that genius and civilization are mutually opposed -- that chastity and politeness and piety alike make war against progress and invention and heroism -- we will have mistakenly exchanged the former for an increasingly elusive latter.

People in the modern age frequently celebrate the advantages of diversity, but they rarely consider that diversity likewise leaves some short, some imbalanced, some needful -- some twisted and sick, some dangerous and deranged.  For diversity in itself cannot always be positive: if some excel, then others trail behind.  For every genius, there is a fool; for every hero, we find a dozen cowards.  If we then, knowing this to be true, teach that diversity itself is beneficial, we must also admit that only certain kinds thereof are worthy of toleration.

We arrive at a second conclusion if we consider further that natural gifts are particular, being allotted only to a choice few, but that the practice of virtue and manners is universal, being truly and physically practicable to everyone bearing the image of God.  Like the Apostle Paul declaring to the Corinthians that prophecy and miracles and tongues were intermittently dispersed by Divine will, but that love was for all Christians at all times, we see that the natural gifts of men cannot be said possessed by all -- that if they were, they would not be recognized as gifts -- but that virtue, like love, must be honed, defended, and advanced against all vice: that not every man may be a gifted architect, but that every man may be a good father; that not every man may be an excellent leader, but every man an honest neighbor.

If we say like Mill that the genius of men cannot come without moral annoyance, then we have thrown away the majority's guaranteed value for the minority's potential.  This is a fallacy which reduces neighbors to incontinence, while exalting only a few -- if in fact they are even more advantageously exalted.  It should seem fairly obvious to thinking men that effeminacy and homosexuality are not necessities for having good art; that bitchiness and a lack of manners are not necessary to a woman's usefulness; that there is a great difference between having different learning styles, being eccentric, and having an entrepreneurial and venturesome spirit, and being a willfully-ignorant, uncivilized, reckless person.  And if we believe that the few can carry the majority, then that is certainly one way of looking at society, but I believe that it is the tyrant's way.  The free man requires all men to be good, and a few to excel.  The slave requires an excellent master, and little to nothing of his neighbors.

I have heard educators speak many times about the value of developing children according to their talents, all the while speaking nothing of developing their virtue.  But whatever men say about the matter, though many believe such schooling to be a great advance of education, training a generation of productive heroes, without a concurrent education in virtue, it might as well train the next generation of supervillains.  For intelligence amongst the good brings forth Madisons and Lockes -- amongst the bad, maybe a Marx or a Rousseau.  Men skilled in rhetoric can be Churchills or Hitlers, those with charisma either George Washington or Jim Jones.  Considerable skill in engineering may eliminate dependence on oil, or it may build nuclear weapons for Syrian terrorists.

Whatever the skill, whatever the gift, its benefit to mankind depends not upon talent itself, but upon the character of those who wield it.  Therefore, all sensible men must be in agreement that the talents of mankind are not in themselves good, but are wholly and universally dependent upon the judgment, fortitude, and charity of their possessors.  Talent for the sake of civilization must be developed, but it is better to be in the company of the righteous layman and farmer than surrounded by impressively treacherous and barbarous men.  And if we believe that Einstein or Edison could have done well in a society of scoundrels, where every man was unjust and mollycoddled, possessing not healthy self-interest, but ugly selfishness, it must be asked exactly how far we should have expected them to succeed.  Without valiant soldiers, honest judges, vigilant citizens, and ethical working men of all kinds, Edisons and Einsteins may occasionally succeed, but true liberty in divine Law permits genius to flourish.  There was no Einstein in the book of Judges.  Every man doing what was right in his own eyes, industry perished, looting was rampant -- survival robbed men of their invention, and made the greatest of heroes not by science, but by sword.

To speak honestly of the matter, most truly incorrigible people amount to nothing more than a nuisance: not a nation of heroes and champions, but of rude children and emotionally retarded adults; harpy wives and useless husbands; unmannered customers and unhelpful staffs; bad drivers and bad neighbors; graceless women and men without honor; a litigious ghetto blaming everyone else for its own unpopularity, and the political parties which not only cater to them, but defend, subsidize, and thus promote their obnoxiousness with the sword of the state.  This is the myth of the incorrigible genius in full bloom, a towering ideology resembling the rare tropical flower beautiful to behold, but which reeks of rotting corpses.

But imagine a world in which children were trained according to their talents, but who also fell in love with Brutus and Lucretia, and thus preferred death to dishonor; or who adored Cato the younger, and thus who spoke honestly and justly under any and every threat; or who dreamed of being like King David, who trusted the Lord's purpose when times were darkest, and death seemed certain.  Likewise, imagine a world in which children hated Alcibiades for living in a corrupting and effeminate luxury; children who know that like with Mark Antony, vices become crimes; children who scorn tyrants like Ahab, and are wary of idolatrous Jezebels.  Children who build -- yet build only good things; who grow up to stir crowds to action -- but action against unjust men; who study political theory -- not to lord over their neighbors, but to defend lawful liberty like holy patriots.

Diversity -- how beautiful!  But diversity in talents and method, not in goodness; perhaps in color, but not in character.  Let us love one another for our gifts, but let us never by making gifts supreme cherish our faults, our vices, our perversities, trading our birthright, like Esau, for a bowl of stew, ruining the greatness of the image of God while seeking for heroes who in such a disgraceful manner may never be found.

Jeremy Egerer is a convert to Biblical conservatism from radical liberalism and the editor of the Seattle website www.americanclarity.com.  American Clarity welcomes friend requests on Facebook.

RECENT VIDEOS