Get PJ Media on your Apple

Rubin Reports

How Western Intellectual Values Have Gone Haywire

August 14th, 2013 - 2:13 pm
“First make sure you’re right, then go ahead.” –Davy Crockett, 1836
For almost two months I  have been talking and traveling through America trying to understand the country. Soon I will begin a dozen-part series called “Lost” about the  reminder of the Obama term in the term in the Middle East and how friendly countries and national interests can survive.
Meanwhile , though, it is adding insult to injury for defenders of the U.S. policy to claim that I or someone else would have more credibility if I didn’t write for a “right-wing site.” This is an extraordinarily important way that the debate is being narrowed and dummied up.
First, of course, I would never make a parallel argument. What matters is whether the claims have credibility. Does it make sense? Is it internally consistent? Does it correspond with otherwise known information? This is the path of logic, of the Enlightenment. Reputation of the author might be a useful factor, too.
An argument from al-Qaida can be quite correct regardless of where it comes from. Thus, this approach is part of the de-rationality of Western thought today. It is a weapon: disregard everything that comes from a source that disagrees with you on other issues.
Incidentally, while some have told me that my language is too intemperate at times in criticizing Obama, I note that they have not been any more successful in changing views or even–whenever they speak out clearly–getting their ideas (as opposed to technical expertise) to the public.
Second, if I wanted to write about the so-called demographic threat (which I can prove in five minutes is nonsense) or write that Israel must make peace right away I can publish it in the NY Times.
So first they bar certain arguments from the mass media and then they say that if you persist in making certain arguments this proves bias because of the few remaining and smaller places you are allowed to appear. In other words, first you bar people and arguments; then you say that the fact that they are barred proves that they—not you—is the biased one.
Let me tell you a story. In 1991 Senator Charles Percy, a man who was then highly regarded and considered himself something of an expert on the Middle East, said he didn’t understand why the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein didn’t withdraw from Kuwait. After all, said Percy, wouldn’t some intelligence chief or general tell him that he was going to be defeated?
This was abject ignorance. If someone had done so—told Saddam he was wrong—the man would be lucky if he were only fired, and still pretty lucky if he wasn’t thrown into prison, tortured, and had his family punished or executed.
The supposed advantage of democracy is that the media, academia, and others speak—where did I hear this before?—truth to power. If you know you are not just going to be ignored, not just that you are going to be punished, but that nobody is going to hear you that is a disincentive to doing so.
But this goes far beyond liberal or conservative, it sabotages the whole advantage of democracy. You can’t be an anti-fascist or anti-Communist in the 1930s until the elite officially accepts that? Maybe it would have been better to voice these concerns and have them heeded before December 7, 1941 or before September 11, 2001. Maybe it would have been better to have done something about it before tens of thousands of lives had been snuffed out internationally, blighted domestically, resources wasted, and society set back by decades.
Is this really the best we can do in 2013?
Personally I am a social democrat/liberal/centrist/conservative, reading from left to right. What works works; what is true is true; what is wrong is wrong. Forgetting that rather basic fact has been very bad for the West. It’s called honest pragmatism.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Western civilization is in peril precisely because the western academy - the incubator for totalitarian 'thought' - has a stranglehold on all power centers.

It is so serious that several highly noted true thinkers term it the crisis of our times. Consider: http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/11/26/the-death-of-the-west-or-its-survival-runs-through-western-academia-addendum-to-the-paradox-pitfalls-of-liberal-democracies-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/

To wit, if a transformation is not in the offing and the stranglehold is not broken - give or take a few short decades - the west will fall. Guaranteed. Giving cover to the most reactionary forces will exact an ultimate price.

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
" I don’t think there has ever been a country like ours, where our elites are deliberately taught – in our best schools – to hate and despise everything that we are, everything that makes us unique. I don’t think there has ever been another country where our elites are taught to be ashamed to call themselves by our national name."

~Sarah A. Hoyt~
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't agree that "[Barry Rubin's] language is too intemperate at times in criticizing Obama".

Considering that the mainstream media regularly and systematically lies, misleads, and distorts facts about Israel, this criticism (of B.R.) is utterly hypocritical.

The recent "prisoner releases" is just the latest example of systematic and deliberate falsification of facts by the media.

http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/08/13/list-of-26-freed-palestinian-terrorists-and-their-victims/

I completely agree that there is an anti-rationalism in Western thought today concerning political issues. Our living in the most technologically and scientifically advanced time in history (every future year will be this way, unless there is a general apocalypse) does not change that fact. This is more proof in the modularity of human intelligence. Rationality in mathematics, science, and engineering does not imply rationality in all things.

But let's not forget that the vast majority of journalists have no scientific or mathematical training. Nor, for the most part, do they have training as professional historians.

They slap together a narrative according to the approved intellectual climate, and if they do not submit to this, they are relegated to less mainstream outlets.

If the intellectual elites in the universities and the N.Y. Times are creating a false reality by deliberately distorting and omitting facts and reality, they are guilty of intellectual crimes. The consequence of those crimes is, as Barry Rubin says, "[that] tens of thousands of lives had been snuffed out internationally, blighted domestically, resources wasted, and society set back by decades".
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Job opportunity for everyone! Work from comfort of your home, on your computer and you can work with your own working hours. You can work this job as a part time or as a full time job. You can earn from 65$ an hour to 1000$ a day! There is no limitations, it all depends from you and how much you want to earn each day. Go to this site home tab for more detail... WWW.JOBS31.COM
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I must say Barry that you have always struck me as someone who was not simply on the ideological right. I have felt at times that you seemed to be overly severe on Obama, but events kept bearing you out. Most conspicuously in Egypt where you said that the worst outcome for US and Israeli interests would be a MB government and that the military taking over would be preferable. You were not even slightly taken in by the idea that the crowds in Tahrir heralded an outbreak of democracy in the ME. Or that the MB were moderate. More recently I think you have been less irritated with Obama and instead begun to really work out what you think he is trying to do. Specifically his apparently seeing the MB as the wave of the future in the ME and trying to get ahead of it so that it does not attack the US. I think you are onto him - better than anyone else I read. Bush at times waxed so delusional about democracy as the universal solution to the ME's problems that I found myself blushing. Unfortunately, Obama actually gets much further into the democracy delusion than his predecessor. Thank you for making sense of it all.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Enlightenment is over, replaced by [scientific] Socialism.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cole. if you, thought Emily`s rep0rt is shocking... on monday I got a gorgeous Jaguar XJ when I got my check for $7845 this past month and over 10/k last-munth. without a question it is my favourite work I have ever had. I began this six months/ago and right away started making over $73, per-hr. I follow instructions here......http://www.wep6.com
Go to website and click Home tab for more details.
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I used to call this phenomenon "The sky is blue, even though George Bush says it is."
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
One can always learn from history. In the 1920s the biggest support for Hitler's National Socialist German Workers Party came from academics and students. In German Universities the faculties were overwhelming in favor of the new socialist state that would eliminate classes and distinctions. In America of the present there is overwhelming support for the Obama/Biden socialist state coming from the education industry especially in elitists locations.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well Barry, I would encourage you and your readers to research the work of Eric Voegelin. The publication "New Science of Politics" offers trenchant analysis of the current intellectual climate. Thomas Bertonneau over at the Brussels Journal has several excellent articles on his works.

Voegelin identified the ruling elites and academics as suffering from political gnosticism. Their fundamental misinterpretation of reality, mistaking our current order as a cosmic fact instead of a temporary arrangement in the stream of time. Along with an immanent vision of being able to impose heaven on earth, our elites process every world event as though nothing is really at risk.

This is exactly why they get everything backwards, as Voegelin stated "the non-recognition of reality as principle", just as ancient gnostics resented the manifest order of existence and revolted against it with their second immanent reality. Just a you remarked on Barry, the forbidding of questions, the prohibition on the clarification historical cause and effect were described by him 1952.

It really is a remarkable read, how else could someone have predicted sixty years ago: "Dangers will not be met with the appropriate response, but rather with magical operations such as declarations, condemnation." and "Wisdom and prudence are not valuable in the dream world. Morality and immorality may be reversed. Some enemy will be blamed for the failures of the dream conception of cause and effect. Clarification of the problems will be seen as an immoral enterprise."

My personal favourite: "Propaganda for moral insanity" is the hallmark for our current order.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the suggestion Cdnby - I've added Brussels Journal and bought Voegelin's Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. As it happens I have a fair few idea that Gnosticism - even though remote in time, has far more influence than most people realize. Even if it proves unrelated its a lead I want to follow up. Thanks.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It’s called honest pragmatism."

There are certain brains, either through longstanding conditioning & brainwashing or just plain incapacity, are not capable of that.

Then there is convenient neglect as a calculated decision (Bill Clinton); a deliberate strategy to appeal to an ignorant voting bloc (Hillary Clinton); and a full blown mental disorder.

You can't be pragmatic if all sensors are fixed and closed.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Freedom for all people seems to be the ultimate equalizer. I don't understand why those on the right are not fighting for freedom for everyone in the world, most especially the egyptians. I agree with your premise but would rather fight than talk it to death. Thinking has been shaped by 50 years of ABC, NBC, the New York Times and 60 minutes in addition to the academics.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem as I see it is that the Ideology of Political Correctness is now so pervasive - through the education system and the mainstream media - that people accept its narrative as reality.

In fact it is an ideology of power through which those who invest themselves with victim status make a power grab under the aegis of fighting for social justice.

Until the power relations of this sham and smokescreen have been laid bare, nothing will change and those of us who are critical of its policies will continue to be marginalized.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Correct. The right must learn to play the deconstruction game, and to dismantle leftist ideology at its root. This should not be difficult. The future of the right is with the Nietzscheans, nihilists and racialists. The old right that played nice, appealed to grandiose principles like universalism, the Enlightenment and Judeo-Christianity and resisted race power politics is simply too weak to win now. The Enlightenment has failed, but the Endarkenment is just beginning. It clearly is all about power now, and this is a game the right should be able to win. In any case, it's going to be a beautiful war on all fronts. A storm is coming!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All

One Trackback to “How Western Intellectual Values Have Gone Haywire”