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Rampant Intellectualism

August 3, 2010

Not much substance here.  Just thinking about a term to define the ‘smarter-than-thou’ mindset running rampant through the executive and legislative branches of our federal government.  As Angelo Codevilla stated in his recent piece for The American Spectator,

The most successful (of the ruling class) neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records.  Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection.  But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority.

The “presumption of intellectual superiority.”  That sounds a lot like Intellectualism to me.  New word?  Nopes; it has already earned itself a healthy writeup on Wikipedia.  Let’s see what it says:

Intellectualism Intellectualism denotes the use and development of the intellect, the practice of being an intellectual, and of holding intellectual pursuits in great regard. Moreover, in philosophy, “intellectualism” occasionally is synonymous to “rationalism”, i.e. knowledge derives mostly from reason and reasoning. … Though present-day educators all advocate learning in some way, there is currently no significant group of scholars that share a single doctrine of intellectualism beyond mere appreciation of knowledge, science, technology, and mathematics. This general appreciation may be supported to some extent by social phenomena like geek culture and nerd pride.

Well that all sounds quite benign and noble, doesn’t it?  “Use,” “development,” “reasoning.” So if you are an Intellectualist, you simply have a mere appreciation for the little things like knowledge, science, and math, and hold such intellectual pursuits “in great regard.”  Aren’t you fancy.  But no mention of maltreating others due to their inferior intellect.

Let’s compare and contrast another -ism of topical interest: racism.  What do the world’s authors say of that?

Racism …. “Although the term racism usually denotes race-based prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination, or oppression, the term can also have varying and contested definitions. … The Macquarie Dictionary defines racism as: “the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others.“”

“Violence,” “discrimination,” “oppression.”  Racism bad, agreed.

Intellectualism good?  Not so much.  Perhaps definition number two for “intellectualism” will soon be used as the basis for the next public shunning:

in·tel·lec·tu·al·ism [ ìnt’l ékchoo ə lìzzəm ] -2.   the belief that all individual humans have distinct intellectual abilities which determine their respective ideologies, tolerances, morals, capabilities to reason and conclude, ability to execute common sense and basic algebra, and willingness to be accepting of another’s intellectual fruit without basis or supporting evidence;  usually manifesting itself in an obnoxious, ballsy, and self-righteous exhibition that conveys, despite lack of proof through academic achievement, objective peer review, or experiential accomplishment, one group’s belief that their own intellect is superior and, therefore, self-granting of the right to rule or dominate others.

Is intellectualism a type of discrimination no better than sexism, racism, or whatever-ism?

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