Isn't it strange that some of the smartest people are socialists?

Isn't it strange that some of the smartest people in our society are socialists?

Albert Einstein was no dummy; if there were a contest for the brainiest man who ever lived, he might be not only a contender, but the winner.  Noam Chomsky made important contributions to linguistics; he didn't just limit himself to parsing sentences.  Bernie Sanders is an intelligent man.  You don't get to be a U.S. senator if you have nothing at all upstairs.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the list of very bright individuals who are lefties, many of whom have made important contributions to science and mathematics.  Others include Stephen Jay Gould, Peter Kropotkin, Richard Levins, Richard Lewontin, John Rawls, and Bertrand Russell.

In addition to mentioning specific names, the case that the "best and brightest" of us are oriented in a socialist direction can also be made in a macro manner.  Although no evidence is available to demonstrate this, it is reasonable to speculate that the educational credentials (e.g., Ph.D.s) of people in the blue and coastal states are higher than those in the red states.  (Apart from the University of Chicago, most of our prestigious universities are located on our two coasts).  Ashkenazi Jews have the reputation of being very smart, yet they overwhelmingly vote Democrat.  It is quite possible that university professors, particularly at the elite schools; journalists; and clergy are more credentialed on average than plumbers, carpenters, and mechanics — and are also much more likely to be in thrall to socialist nostrums.

Even economists, economics being one of the most free-enterprise disciplines in the academy, are biased in a leftward direction, albeit to a lesser degree than their colleagues in sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, and black-queer-feminist "studies."

This is more than passing curious because whenever socialism has been tried, it has been a dismal failure — not only economically, but also in terms of the number of innocent people killed.  This stretches all the way from the national socialism of Hitler and the Nazis to the international socialism of communists Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.  In addition, we have on record two examples that constitute almost double-blind controlled experiments testing this claim: East and West Germany, North and South Korea.  These peoples had in common the same two languages, cultures, histories, presumably intelligence levels.  They were alike in any other dimension anyone would care to mention.  They were separated solely by an adventitious act of war.  One member of each of these pairs adopted a communist economic system, the other something more akin to capitalism.  The subsequent migration patterns told the tale: virtually no one was trying to get into East Germany or North Korea.  The traffic was almost entirely in the other directions, despite the mortal risk.

How can we explain this pattern?  Hayek accounts for this correlation because the very intelligent people who favor laissez-faire capitalism have more opportunities outside academia, in the corporate and financial worlds.  But this explains only why universities are leftist playgrounds.  It ignores the fact that businesses, too, are now overrun by the politically correct.  Schumpeter's explanation is that this imbalance stems from the fact that intellectuals have little or no business experience.  This account, too, is vulnerable to the objection that the modern-day corporate world is now also a bastion of lefties.

Other elucidations include government subsidies for higher education: the G.I. bill; massive student "loans"; the fact that even private colleges attain immense funding, let alone the public ones; the alphabet soup of government agencies that hire highly credentialled college graduates, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the USDA, the Federal Reserve System, etc.  But what explains this system in the first place?

In my view, each of these explanations uncovers a part of the truth.  However, I see Milton Friedman's contribution as one of the best.  He claimed that the rise of leftism at universities stemmed from the U.S. policy during Vietnam war of exempting people in college from the draft.  Leftists took advantage of this program to a far greater degree than rightists, and the former are now the leaders not only of academia, but of almost all of our more influential institutions.  And why, in turn, was this policy instituted?  It may well be that this was almost accidental and non-ideological — merely support for education per se.

I am tempted to say that these socialist intellectuals are "too smart for their own good."  But this is not quite true.  Their leaders, at least, make out like bandits compared to how they would prosper in a purely free-enterprise system.

Image: ElisaRiva via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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