Friday, March 09, 2012

Ignorance Is Strength

From the New York Times, some new Paul Krugman:

So why are Republicans so eager to trash higher education?

It’s not hard to see what’s driving Mr. Santorum’s wing of the party. His specific claim that college attendance undermines faith is, it turns out, false. But he’s right to feel that our higher education system isn’t friendly ground for current conservative ideology. And it’s not just liberal-arts professors: among scientists, self-identified Democrats outnumber self-identified Republicans nine to one.

I guess Mr. Santorum would see this as evidence of a liberal conspiracy. Others might suggest that scientists find it hard to support a party in which denial of climate change has become a political litmus test, and denial of the theory of evolution is well on its way to similar status.

More here.

It's not easy being college educated these days, especially if you have a degree in the humanities. No, I'm not talking about how stupid I was to study theater and the mass media, and how I'm not making the big bucks because of it; I'm talking about how such studies trained me well as a critical thinker, how I'm able to see the Great Oz behind the curtain working his arcane contraptions that create the illusion of his magnificence, how I can see that repeating "hope and change" endlessly does not actually create hope and change, how I can see that cutting tax rates does not, in fact, create more tax revenue. And on and on and on. That is, once you've learned how to decode what passes for conventional wisdom these days, how to see through what everybody else "knows" is real, depression is a very real possibility.

Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way. It is far better to be sad but enlightened than to be happy but deeply ignorant. And it's not as bad as I'm making it sound, either. Ideally, if you can get together a certain density of educated people who understand just how fucked things are these days, you can change things for the better. But we're nowhere near that, which is how both parties appear to want it to be. After all, the political establishment doesn't want anybody to see how foolish the Great Oz actually looks, or they'd have a rebellion on their hands: ignorance is the policy of the establishment.

Needless to say, the Republicans are way ahead of the curve on this--the Democrats, at least, continue to give lip service to college education, but usually mean job training rather than actual intellectual development. But, as Krugman observes, how on earth can you get people to buy that global warming isn't happening or that evolution doesn't exist if they're well educated? You can't. Now that the Republicans are pushing pure fantasy as fact, they have to trash university education. Interestingly enough, trashing education fits in very nicely with lots of other GOP notions, such as phantom WMD in Iraq, or "drill, baby, drill."

Anti-intellectualism is as American as apple pie, but now the fast-fading Republicans absolutely depend on it. Otherwise, there wouldn't be enough of a party left to even hold a primary.