People are so quick to declare that those who do not have knowledge are stupid. Where intelligence is a measure of how easy it is for someone to acquire knowledge, most of the time it is used as a measure about how much knowledge someone has about a particular thing.
The particular thing that people should have knowledge about, is often the things that the proclaimers of stupidity knows and attach value to. Anything outside of that is pointless and worthless, and therefore the insider’s lack of knowledge about those things is not a measure of stupidity – but of wise and proper discernment.
People like me, young and male, are the most eager dismissers about the value or worth of knowledge. In fact, you can see it as an ‘inside and outside’ problem. Those on the inside, of anything, are wise and smart and ready. Those on the outside are not, and whatever they are interested in is foolish.
It is funny how this is replicated in nearly all fields of human activity. So that literary major will roll their eyes over someone who hasn’t read or understood the Melian Dialogues by Thucydides. Chavs and red-necks, the lot of them. Technology nerds scoff dismissively of those who do not run Linux distros and compile their own kernels. Sheep, bloody trusting sheep.
Funnily enough there are actually people here who call themselves libertarians. I met one of them today, and that meeting spawned this post. You know the type; twenty-something, male, and the only book they’ve devoured and loved are the execrable ones written by Ayn Rand. While having someone light up about a book is always good, I’m not sure that they light up for the right reason about ‘The Fountainhead’ or ‘Atlas Shrugged’. I don’t think they admire the eloquence of the writing or the delicate depiction of the characters’ moral dilemmas.
It is funny that there are libertarians here, because libertarians are such odd birds in the British political contexts. It is truly an imported alien thing, and I don’t see it as any different from declaring you’re a Congolese traditionalist. But of course these young, male, white, English people would never attach themselves to a movement from Central Africa. But they do attach themselves to a movement that is quintessentially American.
And anyone who does not profess total belief in the 2nd amendment, the removal of the federal UK government, and the mantra that ‘taxes are theft’ are considered stupid. Sheep. Authoritarian statists. Those on the inside are privileged to shared, secret and divine understanding. Those on the outside are stupid because they just do not see the magnificence of the movement.
Like, the Marxists here at school profess that Socialism has never been implemented properly anywhere because it’s always been the victim of weak human foibles. The few, there are but a few, libertarians profess that Libertarianism has never been implemented because it’s always the victim of weak human foibles.
For both Marxists and Libertarians, the human lack of courage, insight and understanding prevent the emergence of utopia where all men will have cute fluffy kittens and everything will be nice. If people just believe. If they stop being stupid.
Insides and outsides, again. It’s funny when you notice it. It seems to hide everywhere, in plain sight.
Back in college, last year, we had an exercise to display bias. We were invited to write a short piece about something that we really believed in a lot. For me, it was of course about LGBT rights and stuff. Par for the course for this sort of thing.
We had to hand the short argument in, and then we had to listen to the teacher argue against it. She held no punches, not even for a sensitive subject like LGBT rights. And boy was I fuming. How dared she? Wasn’t she supposed to be all right with me being gay? Aren’t we living in 2013 instead of 1013?
There was a point, to illustrate how our emotions always blinded us to argument. If we were mad about something, it was easier to manipulate us. If she attacked my argument, I would lock and not listen to arguments. For my own good, I needed to divorce argument from feeling – that was the point of the exercise.
I’m not sure I’m immune to the trap of conviction, like that exercise showed. So, I’m not sure I’m not hurtling to become someone on the inside that scoff and dismiss those on the outside. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to not join a Team, and maybe in two or three years time I’ll be writing Marxist pamphlets about how socialism was always betrayed by reactionaries, and that this time, this time, we would get it right.
Being on the inside, living in the echo chamber where my views and convictions are always reinforced, would be nice. People could pat me on the head and claim I was so smart and wise, and I would lap it up. And I would protect my status by joining the inside-outside game, and never think twice about it. I’m not sure it would be healthy, though.