Is intellectualism anti-democratic? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15137764
And is thus a sentiment towards democracy and mob rule inherently anti-intellectual?
I have some vague thoughts to muse through here that aren't quite explicitly connected yet but wanted to throw out.

Richard Hofstadter asserted of the USA:
Anti-intellectualism . . . is founded in the democratic institutions and the egalitarian sentiments of this country. The intellectual class, whether or not it enjoys many of the privileges of an elite, is of necessity an elite in its manner of thinking and functioning . . . . Intellectuals in the twentieth century have thus found themselves engaged in incompatible efforts: They have tried to be good and believing citizens of a democratic society and at the same time to resist the vulgarization of culture which that society constantly produces. It is rare for an American intellectual to confront candidly the unresolvable conflict between the elite character of his own class and his democratic aspirations.

And I wonder if my own aspirations to have reasons for things, to understand my own actions so that I experience them truly as my own is a tendency towards intellectualism not as equated with intelligence but as a habit of mind which as summarized above is in conflict with my appeal to democracy.

I actually despise the sentiment that looks at the masses as inherently stupid and dangerous and simply to be manipulated.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fdc2/446bb0d1d660df15c3eea2698e3681163945.pdf
Another implication of this transition was noted somewhat earlier, by Marx in the third of his Theses on Feuerbacb. It is clear that the Enlightenment's mechanistic account of human action included both a thesis about the predictability of human behavior and a thesis about the appropriate ways co manipulate human behavior. As an observer, if I know the relevant laws governing the behavior of others, I can whenever I observe that the antecedent conditions have been fulfilled predict the outcome. As an agent, if I know these laws, I can whenever I can contrive the fulfilment of the same antecedent conditions produce the outcome. What Marx underscood was that such an agent is forced co regard his own actions quite differently from the behavior of those whom he is manipulating. For the behavior of the manipulated is being contrived in accordance with bis intentions, reasons and purposes; intentions, reasons and purpases which he is treating, at least while he is engaged in such manipulation, as exempt from the laws which govern the behavior of the manipulated.

Although I also see what has become the breakdown between high and low culture through commercialism and that the ideal of pure and higher cultural sentiments seems to often reflect those of the educated elite.
I don't aspire to be some aristocrat but at the same time I do think in terms of the need to lift up the masses rather than denigrate them, to take people seriously as having good reasons for what they believe in even when I don't understand it personally. That the anti-democratic sentiment can be found in those who wish to control the masses and are upset when they step out of line.

At the same time though, I don't imagine it to be elitist to say that not everyone's opinion is equal in value and that a tendency to flatten things in opposition to experts who are often mistrusted as they can be tools for those in power whilst has some valid basis is destructive to developing a sound understanding of things.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/habermas-review.htm
It seems to me that the counterfactual element of everyone’s word having equal sway and the force of argument only carrying weight needs to be given some consideration. In real life, the word of people who have greater experience or a proven record in some domain counts for more. Is this inherently elitist? I don’t think so. For example, I have a right to make claims about activities with which I am intimately concerned over the word of others who have no such involvement.

Even on here, how many people feel the need to participate in subjects they have ventured little to understand in the first place. But then the ethics of majority vote as in a democracy is an emphasis on everyone's vote or 'say' being equal.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/pdfs/Collaborative%20Ethics.pdf
As remarked above, it was the principle of equality which made possible and gave rise to Majority and is expressed in the equal value of each vote. The principle of equality means the equality of all members of the collective as autonomous agents having a stake in the decision.

And all those involved with a say in something are ethically all those who are effected.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/works/subject-position.htm
Participants in the project have a moral responsibility not to affect, or at least adversely affect, other people who are non-participants. If someone makes a claim that they are affected, then they have become participants; it’s a fait acompli. At the same time, people may be affected by the project, but have no wish to participate. But they have to know.

So I quite like the point against the lives of the many effected by something being dictated simply by an elite, people do need a say and this is where a need for collaboration and trust is to be created.
A group of people working together can come up with great decisions.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/pdfs/On%20Political%20Representation.pdf
Advocates of ‘citizen juries’ have convincingly shown that a randomly chosen group of citizens, if given time and the same kind of expert advice given to elected politicians, generate better decisions than career politicians or even social movement activists. But the suggestion following from this that election of governments should be replaced by such randomly chosen focus groups is premature.

If anything, my concern when it comes to the masses of people is the conditions in which they can be thought to be effective participants in the determination of their lives.
But how much power in much of day to day life is in the hands of the people or is such participation really such a dry and boring process, that actual politics which isn't the theater on the TV isn't something people are willing to engage in or find that meaningful. They like to defer responsibility to some elite representative and such to make good decisions until things piss them off.
#15137779
Wellsy wrote:
I actually despise the sentiment that looks at the masses as inherently stupid and dangerous and simply to be manipulated.


Most people are average (70%) and sizable fraction are below average (15%) Humans are domestic animals and hence can be controlled by the gifted.

Although I also see what has become the breakdown between high and low culture through commercialism and that the ideal of pure and higher cultural sentiments seems to often reflect those of the educated elite.
I don't aspire to be some aristocrat but at the same time I do think in terms of the need to lift up the masses rather than denigrate them, to take people seriously as having good reasons for what they believe in even when I don't understand it personally. That the anti-democratic sentiment can be found in those who wish to control the masses and are upset when they step out of line.


Many that have a message to uplift the masses have a higher calling which is to do well for themselves. Otherwise, beware of those that feel they are full of virtue. Those people do not have the normal breaks of a person with a conscience. Nevertheless over time capitalism has enormously benefited the masses even though the capitalist is looking out for himself. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.. However, the ones that look for their own interest on the left tend to harm those around them. There is also a tendency to authoritarianism. The socialists of this forum will admit an authoritarian system is needed for socialism.


At the same time though, I don't imagine it to be elitist to say that not everyone's opinion is equal in value and that a tendency to flatten things in opposition to experts who are often mistrusted as they can be tools for those in power whilst has some valid basis is destructive to developing a sound understanding of things.

Stupidity in an SJW on the left the same as stupidity in a right wing evangelical. They are both ultra religious and are capable of significant damage to others.

Even on here, how many people feel the need to participate in subjects they have ventured little to understand in the first place. But then the ethics of majority vote as in a democracy is an emphasis on everyone's vote or 'say' being equal.

QUESTION: What happens when those that do not work for a living go to the ballot box and win elections? What happens when the segment of the populatiin that is productive and goes to work becomes the minority?


A group of people working together can come up with great decisions.

Diversity of opinion is desirable. However, the left does not allow diversity of opinion. If one side do not know the point of view of the other side-----do they know anything?

If anything, my concern when it comes to the masses of people is the conditions in which they can be thought to be effective participants in the determination of their lives.

That would be a conservative point of view.
#15137786
Well facts, logic and science are not democratic principles or disciplines. Science is not a democracy. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that some of the foundations of intellectualism that come from logic, reasoning, facts and science are anti-democratic.
#15137831
Rugoz wrote:Intellectuals are anti-democratic but also anti-authoritarian. Which makes them kind of useless. :lol:

They're anti-democratic perhaps because they're anti-authoritarian. One's approach may depend on if they consider the demos the people, the plebs, or the mob. The Romans may have been so successful because they nailed it.
#15137840
Rugoz wrote:Intellectuals are anti-democratic but also anti-authoritarian. Which makes them kind of useless. :lol:

Plato strongly believed that only smart philosophers should lead nations.
OTOH, in a democracy the people can elect mediocre men as leaders.
Or the people (domestic animals) can be molded into anything by a leader.
I am always astounded to hear people debating others by simply regurgitating recycled phrases they picked up on the media or online.
#15137841
Politics_Observer wrote:Well facts, logic and science are not democratic principles or disciplines. Science is not a democracy. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that some of the foundations of intellectualism that come from logic, reasoning, facts and science are anti-democratic.

Is it fair that most physicists, mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists are mostly men?
#15137857
Wellsy wrote:And is thus a sentiment towards democracy and mob rule inherently anti-intellectual?
I have some vague thoughts to muse through here that aren't quite explicitly connected yet but wanted to throw out.

Richard Hofstadter asserted of the USA:

And I wonder if my own aspirations to have reasons for things, to understand my own actions so that I experience them truly as my own is a tendency towards intellectualism not as equated with intelligence but as a habit of mind which as summarized above is in conflict with my appeal to democracy.


This Hofstadter guy is wrong.

He seems to be confusing two different meanings of equality. Equality has many different meanings. Here he is using it to mean both “socioeconomic equality and equality of opportunity” and “two things being the same”. This confusion leads to stupid ideas like “egalitarian societies and varied levels of intelligence cannot coexist”.

@Julian658 makes this mistake all the time.

If this were the case, democracy would be incompatible with professional athletes, or the fact that some kids are more popular than others. The fact that people exhibit varying levels of ability is not inherently anti-democratic.

I actually despise the sentiment that looks at the masses as inherently stupid and dangerous and simply to be manipulated.
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fdc2/446bb0d1d660df15c3eea2698e3681163945.pdf


There is no observer playing by different rules. We are all subject to these tendencies of human nature and so we are all predictable. Including the agents who manipulate others.

And we see this in even the most mundane examples, where intelligent and aware people still buy Harlequin romances or Fast and Furious DVDs even though they know these products are simply profit centered escapism.

But I do not think that people who are naturally skilled in manipulating others will necessarily use these gifts in anti-democratic ways. While many will go to work for the elite, many will come from marginalised communities or classes, and use these gifts to support egalitarianism. Stacey Abrams is a good current example.

I may look at the rest later.
#15137866
Beren wrote:They're anti-democratic perhaps because they're anti-authoritarian. One's approach may depend on if they consider the demos the people, the plebs, or the mob. The Romans may have been so successful because they nailed it.


That makes no sense. You either believe that power should belong to the multitude or the few or something in between.

Julian658 wrote:Plato strongly believed that only smart philosophers should lead nations.


We don't really know what Plato believed. The utopia described in The Republic relies on two questionable assumptions, namely that philosophers can arrive at the truth through mere reasoning, and that seeking justice is intrinsically good (something philosophers would know because they "reasoned it out").

I would argue that the most important legacy of Plato's work is the anti-dogmatic and therefore anti-authoritarian nature of the Socratic dialogues.
#15137916
Rugoz wrote:We don't really know what Plato believed. The utopia described in The Republic relies on two questionable assumptions, namely that philosophers can arrive at the truth through mere reasoning, and that seeking justice is intrinsically good (something philosophers would know because they "reasoned it out").

I would argue that the most important legacy of Plato's work is the anti-dogmatic and therefore anti-authoritarian nature of the Socratic dialogues.


Plato believed that philosophers would be the best rulers of society because they’re able to understand true goodness and justice in a way that other people cannot. Because they would understand that the greatest self-benefit is living virtuously, they would act out morally and not out of self-interest.

https://midnightmediamusings.wordpress. ... 2Dinterest.

I understand that ultimately we cannot read the minds of the dead. The point is that today most world leaders are leaders because they are narcissistic charlatans. The best people suited for leadership do not bother to run for office.
#15138005
Rugoz wrote:That makes no sense. You either believe that power should belong to the multitude or the few or something in between.

Let me clarify then. If you think the masses are the people that can think for themselves and know what they're doing, then you must be a democrat. If you believe they're the plebs that are interested in free bread, circuses, easily won wars and shallow public life the most, then you should be a republicanist. However, if you consider them even less than that (helots, for example), then you should support an outright dictatorship of the elite.

Intellectuals usually think people tend to be very receptive to charismatic strongmen and their demagoguery and authoritarianism, which they don't really appreciate, so many of them are not into democracy that much.
#15138202
Beren wrote:Let me clarify then. If you think the masses are the people that can think for themselves and know what they're doing, then you must be a democrat. If you believe they're the plebs that are interested in free bread, circuses, easily won wars and shallow public life the most, then you should be a republicanist. However, if you consider them even less than that (helots, for example), then you should support an outright dictatorship of the elite.

Intellectuals usually think people tend to be very receptive to charismatic strongmen and their demagoguery and authoritarianism, which they don't really appreciate, so many of them are not into democracy that much.


Not so fast! In America Democrats believe in collectivism whereas Republicans believe in individualism. That does not jive with what you say. Ultimately the average person in the population is a domestic animal that is quite malleable and easy influence to create certain behaviors. In some parts of America nearly 100% of blacks vote Democrat. That means that as a group they have been massively manipulated.
#15138206
I think to only see people as purely manipulated is as the very quote in the OP about Marx theses on Feuerbach summarizes, is to see people only as objects of manipulation and so how others as not. You simply do not take seriously as to why people would act differently than you do but this goes down the road of everyone is an idiot ‘cept me but the idiocy is the dismissiveness for not understanding the reasons why people do what they do. That is you don’t understand so to cover up this difficulty you make a dismissive nonexplanation.
Which isn’t to say manipulation doesn’t exist but you don’t actually know what that means of manipulation is and how it fits into peoples sense of the world and thus makes sense to them.
#15138211
Julian658 wrote:Not so fast! In America Democrats believe in collectivism whereas Republicans believe in individualism. That does not jive with what you say. Ultimately the average person in the population is a domestic animal that is quite malleable and easy influence to create certain behaviors. In some parts of America nearly 100% of blacks vote Democrat. That means that as a group they have been massively manipulated.

I don't talk about Democrats or Republicans, or even America specifically.
#15138216
Anti-intellectualism is anti-democratic. You can see that in Trump supporters fighting against Democracy because their cult leader lost the election.
#15138223
Godstud wrote:Anti-intellectualism is anti-democratic. You can see that in Trump supporters fighting against Democracy because their cult leader lost the election.

Trump supporters fight for their supposed tribune and mean to liberate themselves from plutocratic republicanist oppression (of the establishment), so they mean to be democratic actually.
#15138258
Wellsy wrote:Which isn’t to say manipulation doesn’t exist but you don’t actually know what that means of manipulation is and how it fits into peoples sense of the world and thus makes sense to them.


I remember you posting a similar thesis on TLTE a few weeks back. The antidote for manipulation is skepticism. I also know you have an interest in philosophy so you should be aware of the concept of proving a negative and the law of parsimony. So if you are trying to understand something, the first thing you do is look at the most obvious outcome or reason for it. After that you should look for evidence that could disprove the outcome if it even exists at all. If there isn't anything then you have can make an informed opinion - which isn't immune to manipulation but as good as anyone can hope for. What you have on PoFo especially from the Trumpists is the belief of the words of a proven liar. Can you not see which type of person is more likely to fall foul of manipulation in this regard?

So my advice to you and anyone else for that matter is ask questions. But make sure the questions you are asking are from your own opinion and not from the words of another mind as that is in fact a sign of manipulation.
#15138316
B0ycey wrote:I remember you posting a similar thesis on TLTE a few weeks back. The antidote for manipulation is skepticism. I also know you have an interest in philosophy so you should be aware of the concept of proving a negative and the law of parsimony. So if you are trying to understand something, the first thing you do is look at the most obvious outcome or reason for it. After that you should look for evidence that could disprove the outcome if it even exists at all. If there isn't anything then you have can make an informed opinion - which isn't immune to manipulation but as good as anyone can hope for. What you have on PoFo especially from the Trumpists is the belief of the words of a proven liar. Can you not see which type of person is more likely to fall foul of manipulation in this regard?

So my advice to you and anyone else for that matter is ask questions. But make sure the questions you are asking are from your own opinion and not from the words of another mind as that is in fact a sign of manipulation.

To get at your point about asking questions as opposed to using the words from another mind I'd like to clarify the distinction further. It'she difference between repeating like a parrot the conclusions from someone else, compared to working to understand how they came to those conclusions and how compelling they are. THe first there is no thought, there is no understanding. This is where many of us take on faith the conclusions of science as readily as someone takes the word of their church leader in regards to the word of God and interpretation of scripture. We don't understand physics so we emulate the sense of understanding in repeating facts accepted a true. The point however is to actually to comprehend, and in this regard, no one can do the work of thinking for us and thinking is a difficult and time-consuming task.

Spoiler: show
https://www.marxists.org/archive/ilyenkov/works/articles/school-learn.pdf
I cannot but recall here the wise words spoken not long ago by one old mathematician. Deliberating on the causes of the inadequate culture of mathematical (and not only mathematical) thinking among secondary school graduates over recent years, he gave the following extraordinarily accurate characterization of these causes: curricula contain “too much that is finally established,” too many “absolute truths.” This is precisely why students, grown accustomed to “swallowing the roast grouse of absolute science,” are then unable to find their way to objective truth, to the “thing” itself.

This too sounds, as it were, “paradoxical.” However, the mathematician’s words are as simple as they are true:

I recall my own schooldays. We were taught literature by a very erudite follower of Belinsky. And we grew accustomed to looking at Pushkin through his eyes—that is, through Belinsky’s eyes. Regarding all the teacher told us about Pushkin as beyond doubt, we too saw in Pushkin only what he told us—and nothing more. . . . So it remained until by chance I happened to come across an article by Pisarev. It threw me into confusion. What is this? Everything was turned upside down and still convincing. What was I to do? And only then did I turn my attention to Pushkin himself. Only then did I myself discover his true beauty and profundity. And only then did I understand—for real and not in scholastic fashion—both Belinsky and Pisarev

And this, of course, applies not only to Pushkin. How many people have left school for adult life having memorized “indubitable” propositions about Pushkin from textbooks and contenting themselves with that! Naturally, a person who has swallowed his fill of “the roast grouse of absolute science” no longer wants to look at live grouse flying in the sky. After all, it is no secret that very many people had any desire to read Pushkin knocked out of them precisely during literature lessons at secondary school—and not only Pushkin.

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/hegel-on-education.htm
“The unfortunate urge to educate the individual in thinking for himself and being self-productive has cast a shadow over truth. As if, when I learn what substance, cause, or anything is, I myself were not thinking. As if I did not myself produce these determinations in my own thought but rather tossed them in my head as pebbles. As if, further, when I have insight into their truth, into the proofs of their synthetic relations or dialectical transitions, I did not receive this insight myself, as if I did not convince myself of these truths. As if when I have become acquainted with the Pythagorean theorem and its proof I have failed to know this theorem and prove its truth myself! As much as philosophical study is in and for itself self-activity, to that degree also is it learning: the learning of an already present, developed science. This science is a treasure of hard-won, ready-prepared, formed content. This inheritance ready at hand must be earned by the individual, i.e., learned. The teacher possesses this treasure; he pre-thinks it. The pupils re-think it. The philosophical sciences contain universal true thoughts of their objects. They constitute the end product of the labor of genial thought in all ages. These true thoughts surpass what an uneducated young man comes up with thinking by himself to the same degree that such a mass of inspired labor exceeds his effort. The original, peculiar views of the young on essential objects are in part still totally deficient and empty, but in part - in infinitely greater part - they are opinion, illusion, half-truth, distortion, and indeterminateness. ...

http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Mail/xmcamail.2015-06.dir/pdf9UQ7dqv45X.pdf
To be educated is also a process of which becoming free is intrinsically a part, for to be educated is not to ‘know’ a range of positions and perspectives but to understand the reasons for holding particular beliefs and rejecting others. Pippin continues:

[I] imagine all of us playing a version of the game where we try to name an idea crucial to our understanding of ourselves and of the modern world, and which has played a critical role in some of our decisions, some of the policies we have formulated, and many of the judgments and even condemnations we have formulated about others, but which we have no clue how to define and, no matter how much we have relied on it, no clue at all how to defend the idea from objections. Examples come easily to mind to all of us. What, after all, is a "right"? (Pippin, R. 2000)

In such a scenario we would not be familiar with the reasons for our actions and judgments and therefore we would be subject to them rather than in control of them: ‘[A] better form of self-understanding might make it possible to say that you led a life more "your own."’ (Pippin, R. 2000.)


And it is in my sense that people aren't simply causally determined beings but act on the basis of reasons and that people in many cases have very good reasons for acting they way they do even if it is baffling to someone else. This is something which I use to rebuke a sense of everyone a passive idiot because I think it often leads to a double standard where somehow ones self isn't an idiot.
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/pdfs/Article_on_Teleology.pdf
The difference between logical necessity and causal necessity

The sociologist Anthony Giddens claimed that the predictability manifested in social life is largely ‘made to happen’ by strategically placed social actors, not in spite of them or ‘behind their backs’. Far from people being driven to do what they do by remote or invisible ‘structural forces’, Giddens showed that “all explanations will involve at least implicit references both to the purposive, reasoning behavior of agents and to its intersection with constraining and enabling features of the social and material contexts” (1984, p. 179). Giddens’ research shows that individuals are generally well aware of the possible consequences of their actions, and are experts in the often lamentable situations in which they find themselves.
...
Any given social arrangement has an inherent ‘logic’ which constrain the actions of all the particular actors; no-one ‘forces’ any actor to act in a certain way (indeed they would not be actors at all if they were forced), but the social arrangements constrain them in what can be called ‘logical necessity’: “You don’t have to do X, but look at your options. You’d be well advised to do X.” But it does not stop there; people endeavor to change arrangements which do not suit them. Responses to institutional arrangements are a kind of practical critique of the concept on which the institution was based. Institutional arrangements will be changed in response to such critique and the changes decided upon by rational deliberations, however imperfect, will respond to the practical critique explicitly in the form of thinking and argument. Institutional change in modern societies is not like crowd behavior, but takes place according to what is found to be necessary in the circumstances. Institutions try to do what they have to do according to their concept, rather than simply striving to maintain a status quo.


But following the point about education as freedom enhancing process and learning to actually think, an issue can be the means by which people's natural talent to think is damaged and limited. They come to focus more on say feedback of performance (grades, praise etc) rather than the mastery of something i.e. understanding it. SO I hold great optimism for the potential and ability of the average person, what is detestable is the conditions which limits them. The things which do seek to manipulate rather than inform, which thwart any ability to make informed decisions. Not that a lot of problems have easy solutions either.

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