Have you noticed lately that when you get into discussions with most people who you disagree with about politics, historical events, or any number of other subjects, there’s a failure to communicate?  Have you noticed when you present a line of reasoning, it's as if nothing has been said? That when you point out the logic of your argument, that it's sluffed off as a matter of opinion. And when you cite historical facts that verify your opinion -- the facts don't matter; they’re dismissed as irrelevant. If facts don't matter, truth doesn't matter. If truth doesn’t matter, justice doesn't matter. And if all those things don’t matter, thinking doesn't matter.

 

America is in an intellectual crisis. I first suspected a major change in the psyche of the nation last year. Since then things have deteriorated further. We see it in politics, but it begins with philosophy. The fact that the two leading candidates for president have the highest negative approval ratings in history is testimony to the trouble America is in.

Long ago we had what was called The Age of Reason, where the Western World embraced science, logic, and natural law. It was the thousand years when the Roman Empire ruled and  it was a period of enlightenment, guided by logic and reason and the philosophy of Aristotle. A thousand years of progress followed.

Then came a period of time called the “Dark Ages” which followed the collapse of Rome. The Dark Ages lasted roughly from the 6th century to the 13th century. Little is known about that period because society as we know it today died. Little communications or events were recorded. It was a period of anti-intellectualism, brute force over reason, and economic and social stagnation.  We finally thought our way out of that malaise -- and reason, prosperity and progress returned.

We saw the rise of intellectual giants like Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Adam Smith, David Hume and David Ricardo who influenced our Founding Fathers and guided their great political wisdom – and from that renaissance, America was born. All of this is barely understood today. Ask any student, and you are unlikely to get a valid description of those dark years let alone the great years and the individuals or their achievements that endured afterward – or any reason as to why. Today, intellectualism is dying.

How did we get here? and get here so quickly? One clue is in the Nation’s Report Card that tests the literacy and proficiency of graduating students. The latest National Report Card showed that last year among students graduating high school, only 33% were proficient at reading and only 20% were capable of doing math sufficient to enter college -- and this, after spending the greatest amount of money in the history of mankind to educate our children. And what is the solution to these low scores? More money, according to the Department of Education.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are taught casually in schools as is science and history, in favor of “more important things” like being a nice person, understanding other people’s views and concerns, and being tolerant to others. Philosophy as taught by the proponents of reason has been replaced by the teachings of subjectivism , mysticism, and moral relativism. And you wonder why suddenly facts don't matter?

Money for our educational system is no substitute for knowledge and intellectual honesty.

You can say a hundred times that free market capitalism has been the most successful economic system in the history of the world; that all forms of socialism have either failed or led to mediocrity and years of stagnation, and you would be lucky to see even a handful of disbelievers change their minds about the so-called evils of capitalism versus the virtues of socialism.

 

You can point to Venezuela as a current-day example and proof that socialism and all forms of statism can only cripple a society. 

 

From “Business Insider" last week:

On Tuesday evening, protests and looting hit Caracas as well as Maracaibo, the country’s second largest city. The AP reported that protestors took to the darkened streets, “setting up flaming barricades and raiding shops for bread and other scarce food.” According to local news reports, protestors chanted “we want food.”

The Venezuelan economy has been hit hard by the collapse in oil prices, but economic mismanagement has turned what could have been a slump into a meltdown. Inflation is in triple digits, the government’s cash reserves have dwindled, and its ability to meet its debt obligations over the next year or two is highly questionable. Venezuela has struggled with food shortages for much of the last year, as well as a scarcity of other basic goods including medicine. [Italic mine]

This is the final result of socialism. You can point to this fact, but to no avail.

 

This is the typical result of socialism in all its forms. You see it in Cuba, stagnant and only stable due to subsidies from Russia, and other socialist countries. You see it in Argentina and Brazil as their economies continue to deteriorate and fail; in Puerto Rico, which is busy defaulting on its debts and continues to spend more and more on social programs to "help" the poor. And you are beginning to see it here in the US as stagnation has replaced prosperity.

Examples of the failure of socialism are everywhere in the world, yet daily we are spoon-fed the notion that socialism is what this nation needs, and that free market capitalism and free trade hurts this nation.

Poverty today is higher and wages are lower while opportunity is less than in memorable history in this country, especially for the young and for minorities -- the very people Barack Obama pledged to help. It is not ironic that the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer. It's typical of socialism. Yet millions of Americans are clamoring for it. Bernie Sanders is demanding it. This is typical of the anti- intellectual revolution and the present day American crisis.

It’s not just America that indulges in self blindness; it’s the world at large. As Europe, South America, and Japan have tried everything they know to end their economic disintegration, the one thing they refuse to try is free market capitalism – even though it is the only system proven to create prosperity. They continue to employ failing policies over and over again.

The Republicans - the so-called defenders of free markets - are no better. They may understand fiscal responsibility, but they don’t practice it. Nor do they understand that they cannot impose their morality on others. The use of force to compel others to believe as you do is against everything America once stood for.

The word “freedom” is rarely heard in society any more. We now hear that eminent domain is fine if it’s in the name of progress; that a draft may be required to fight our enemies; and that businesses, individuals, and their money should be controlled in the name of running a trade surplus, of all things. And this is just a smattering of the irrationality and the violations of individual rights that exist on both sides of the political spectrum.

America is in a crisis. The free press is free, but dumbed down. The educational system is doing more damage to young minds than good. Neighbor is pitted against neighbor as America is divided right down the middle on political issues. The rule of law is breaking down as private contracts are being replaced by government edicts and mandates. And as reason disappears from conversations, violence is taking over.

There is a myth that has never been explicitly challenged that I want to challenge here. It is that freedom breeds peace and prosperity. While this is true most of the time, it is only made possible by the employment of reason in a society. People are free to learn or not to learn. They are free to be smart or stupid. They are free to be productive or lazy. Freedom does not guarantee success or happiness. Only reason and the productive use of one’s mind together with the intense desire to be responsible for one’s own wellbeing guarantees success and happiness.

The alternative to reason, freedom, and personal responsibility is a new Dark Ages. It happened before, and it is on its way to happening again.  Click here: The New Anti-Intellectual Movement - PaulNathan.biz. The terrorist offensive world-wide today is a manifestation of a return to the irrationalism of the Middle-Ages. The hatred of man, of reason, and of a civilization based on self-interest is the goal of the barbarians of the world. As innocent individuals are burned alive, drowned, beheaded, tortured and raped, the civilized world has no idea of what to make of it or what to do about it. They stand frozen by their own ignorance and self-imposed blindness.

The long lasting stagnation of the economies of the world is the result of the same lack of reason, education, and intellectual honesty that pervades the world. The irrationality unleashed in the world and now in America dominates the culture and is manifested in the calls for more socialism by the Democrats and the “us versus them” new Nationalism of the Republicans. The end result is predictable – the breakdown of civilized society.

Shades of Atlas Shrugged.

 

Paul Nathan

Paulnathan.biz