October 3, 2010

OBSCURANTISM:

Kate Zernike of the New York Times describes how tea-party activists explore “dusty bookshelves for long-dormant ideas” and study “once-obscure texts” by “long-dead authors.” She is of course referring to Friedrich Hayek, whose book The Road to Serfdom was excerpted in Reader’s Digest and never has been out of print, whose Nobel Prize for economics in 1972 celebrated the importance and mainstream acceptance of his thinking, and whose death in 1992 isn’t exactly ancient history.

If they didn’t learn it in college, it’s “obscure.” Which, alas, merely highlights the inadequacy of their educations. (I, on the other hand, took a semester-long seminar on Hayek in college.) At any rate, the “obscure” Road to Serfdom is currently #56 on Amazon.

Related: Stuart Schneiderman: Who’s Smarter Now?

UPDATE: Reader Michael Costello writes: “How long has Karl Marx been dead? And Friedrich Hayek outlived Saul Alinsky by 20 years.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: OUCH:

If I had said a day ago that your typical New York Times reporter doesn’t have the vaguest sense of what the rule of law means, I would have heard from all sorts of earnest liberal readers — and probably some conservative ones too – about how I was setting up a straw man. But now we know it’s true. It’s not just that she doesn’t know what it is, it’s that even after (presumably) looking it up, she still couldn’t describe it and none of her editors raised an eyebrow when she buttered it.

The claims of superior intellect on the part of the legacy media seem unfounded.

MORE: Reader Jim Bass writes:

Since Kate is so clueless about Hayek, she can take a remedial course by watching “Commanding Heights.” The full series is here for her enlightenment on PBS’s website safely away from dusty bookshelves.

Learning through TV may work best here, though no doubt it would be more persuasive if it came from Jon Stewart . . . .