The Treason of the Intellectuals by James Reed

Over the Christmas break period, I set about cleaning up my book shelf, getting ready for the grim reaper. Don’t leave it until it is too late I say. So I write this as I flip through some older books all on the theme of the intellectuals and the new class. The idea of the “treason of the intellectuals” is now pretty well out there so out go these books, committed to the flames to increase my carbon footprint and help prevent the next ice age, in a small way.

Paul Johnson, Intellectuals, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1988); a big book with lots of dirt on so called great minds like Rousseau, Shelly, Marx, Ibsen, Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Brecht, Sarte, Norman Mailer. There is something wrong with all of them personally, and they all hold to the idea that they are superior to us common folk and that society will be better if their ideas were adopted. In fact, as shown by Marx and others, their ideas are disasters, responsible for untold human misery.

Next on my pile is The New Conservatism in Australia (ed by R. Manne, 1982). The essay by John Carroll, “Paranoid and Remissive: The Treason of the Upper Middle Class” was influential on my own critique of the chattering class and intellectuals. The “remissive class” or “new class” compromise those who are knowledge/information workers (e.g. literati, journalists, lawyers, university academics etc.). They are university educated and hate the “old culture.” Today, things are worse and we would say that they hate Western civilisation. These cultural elites, such as student radicals of the 1960s, came from “upper middle class family backgrounds of dominant, possessive mothers and weak fathers, deprived of the presence of authoritative adult males with whom to identify, turning against the leading institutions of their society.” (p. 2) And “The paranoid hatred of authority expressed itself in direct attacks on the society’s leading values and institutions.” (p. 3) Looking back, that seems now like the good old days. The degeneration is now thousands of times worse since 1982.

Rael Jean Isaac and Ench Isaac in The Coercive Utopians: Social Deception by America’s Power Players. (Regnery Gateway, 1983), described the role of what they called the “coercive utopians” in the law media, universities, churches and right across society. They saw their society as deeply flawed and they hoped to reform it along, primarily progressive lines. Spoiler alert; they failed producing social disaster.

Common to all of these elites, as noted by John Ralston Saul in Voltaire’s Bastards, (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992) is the false belief that their expertise will solve all problems. But not so: “The possession, use and control of knowledge have become their central theme – the theme song of their expertise. However, their power depends not on the effect with which they use that knowledge but on the effectiveness with which they control its use. Thus, among the illusions which have invested our civilisation is an absolute belief that the solution to our problems must be a more determined application of rationally organised expertise. The reality is that our problems are largely the product of that application.” (p. 8)
Saul also says: “A civilization unable to differentiate between illusion and reality is usually believed to be at the tail end of its existence.” (p. 7) The intellectuals have worked to produce a veil between reality and their illusions. My hope is that I last long enough to see their glass castles come crashing down. It is something I will drink to.



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Wednesday, 24 July 2024

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