Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Professor Frank Furedi on how conservatism came to be treated as a mental deficiency

Paul Krugman: "In recent months, the GOP seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party."

Senator Mark Warner: "Enough is enough. Sequestration is stupid. Shutting down the government is stupidity on steroids."

Ben Bernanke: Stop Being the Stupid Party

Arizone Republic Editorial Board: Why are 'tea-party' Republicans being so stupid?

Foreign Policy: The Walking Dumb

You’re right-wing? You must be stupid. University of Kent sociology professor Frank Furedi on how conservatism came to be treated as a mental deficiency:

It is worth noting that, historically, the manipulation of science to discredit political opponents – from nineteenth-century craniology to twentieth-century Stalinist and Nazi theories – was strongly criticised by the intellectual community. Today, by contrast, it is self-styled intellectuals, especially the ones who refer to themselves as ‘liberal’, who use such pseudo-scientific tactics to pathologise their opponents as a mentally and intellectually inferior political species. And there is barely any dissent from this view.--

Since the 1940s, intelligence has been turned into a cultural weapon that is used by individuals and groups to validate their status and authority. Inevitably, this weapon is most effectively used by those claiming the status of an intellectual. As Mark F Proudman has written: ‘The imputation of intelligence and of its associated characteristics of enlightenment, broad-mindedness, knowledge and sophistication to some ideologies and not to others is itself therefore a powerful tool of ideological advocacy.’ (3)
Making fun of the parochial and folksy ways of right-wing politicians and exposing their grammatical errors to ridicule is one way that intellectuals assume moral superiority these days. Those who have something of a monopoly over modern-day intellectual capital can thus present themselves as the possessors of moral authority, too. --

It is of course quite legitimate to argue that the ideas held by conservatives are stupid. But the tactic of devaluing the mental capacity of conservatives calls into question the validity of open debate and free speech. Why take seriously or discuss the views of those who are intellectually inferior? In the past, such arguments were used by anti-democratic theorists to put the case against popular sovereignty, against mass engagement, against allowing the allegedly ignorant public to get involved in politics. Today, such arguments are used by those who pose as knowledge-rich experts as a way of suggesting that the rest of us – the ignorant – should defer to them.
Genuine intellectuals who are devoted to the pursuit of ideas and who understand the transformative potential of debate should reject the politics of insult. Instead of sneeringly declaring ‘they don’t get it’, a real intellectual should develop ideas in a way that would allow ‘them’ to get it. Indeed, it is the conviction that most human beings have the potential to grasp the issues facing their communities that underpins the ideals of democratic politics and popular sovereignty. The real problem today is not stupid conservatives, but people with multiple university degrees who ‘don’t get’ what it truly means to be an intellectual.

Read the entire article here

How right you are, professor!

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