The far ends of the scale are united against the middle. It either takes no effort, or you are born with the inability, to be at the low end. It takes immense or unusual dedication, or you are born with the ability, to be at the top.
The middle extends part way to the bottom and the top, representing, for example, those with college degrees and professorships respectively. The middle never reaches either extreme. It is the home of theorists and people who say “ackchyually”. The “I f****** Science” crowd and bureaucrats live here, as does every propagandist and the majority of politicians.
Though we do not have to take “IQ” as a rigorous numerical description of ability, it is now customary to call these middle people midwits. It fits.
Roger Scruton in an interview made the meme come to life:
If you start thinking about politics in an intellectual way, you are likely to be on the left. Because that provides a systematic solution, an answer to the questions, puts it all in a system, and also gives you a rather dignified and self-congratulatory place in the system. But once you started thinking, if you think a bit harder and longer about it, you’ll move back to what you would have been had you never thought at all.
That’s my view as to what an intellectual conservative is. He’s someone who articulates the real reasons for not having reasons, [that is] just feeling and doing what’s right.
There are any number of acts that are so familiar we don’t think of the reasons for them, like knowing when to cross the street. We follow the traditions of our culture and, if pressed for an explanation for an act, we say what we did was because this is the way things are, because of commonsense.
For crossing the street, this can be because the light has changed because we know what the colors mean. Or because suspicious characters have just appeared on our side. If pressed for an explanation why we just crossed, given strangers have appeared, we might say, “My dad always said to stay away from those guys.”
Reacting without thinking in this way is what midwits call “prejudice” or “bigotry”, and the like. Prejudice was not always a bad word. The oft-quoted Burke (in a nice coincidence, I saw this quoted on Unz as I was writing this, a good sign that people are beginning to recall forgotten truths):
Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man’s virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just such prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.
Prejudice produces results like drilling does in the military. You get so familiar with a task you can do it without thinking. These habits are good things, and assist is performing our duties. Duty, though, is a hateful word to progressives, hence their condemnation of prejudices grown out of tradition.
Everybody, with excellent reason, now quotes Chesterton at this point:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
Reformers are midwits (almost always credentialed) in love with theories. Theories are beautiful, simple, clean, pure. Like Scruton said, they create a system, a theory, which answers all questions. Just like scientists, those who hold political theories become angry when Reality does not conform to theory. Scientists at least only ignore the parts of Reality that don’t fit their theories. Not ideologues. When in power, they dispose of the troublesome parts of Reality.
Conservatives at the far end of the scale have beliefs, too. But they do not profess to hold theories which are as exact as the midwits’. Indeed, they hold much simpler beliefs, the same ones the supposed dullards believe. These beliefs are the theory, if they can be given so glorified a name, that tradition works, that most innovation, especially rapid innovation, is dangerous, that human nature is consequential. Simple as that. But in our culture it takes a lot of thought to get to that point
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