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Hogarth judge

February 2018



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Hogarth judge

The eternal peasant

S.M. wrote:

Third, the value of diversity lies in the uniqueness of each human's perspective and knowledge. When confronted with a problem, different people react differently. The people that we would all agree are intelligent and knowledgeable react to it in their own way, as do those we would all agree aren't. However, when all the thousands of variables in the problem at hand, the world, and the backgrounds of all the persons involved meet, it's entirely possible that the idiots are the ones who will see a solution where the educated do not. It's impossible to tell where an idea will come from and how it will develop. It's generally better, of course, to consult people who are knowledgeable about the subject at hand, but eliminating the perspective of those deemed stupid entirely removes a source of inspiration that could prove useful at times we cannot predict.
The problem is: the peasant mentality does not value diversity in background, and especially not in language, religion, or culture. Give the peasants a political say in important matters, and they will use whatever power they are given to demonize and persecute those who are thought to be unacceptably deviant. They will seek to rally leaders to their cause, and demand sufficient vehemence in their denunciation of the chosen target. And they will pick the deviant more or less at random; what sets them off may be a result of an actual event, or a planted event, for they can be manipulated into these crusades fairly easily.

I tend to see the peasant mentality, moreover, as an anthropological basic. Every sufficiently stratified, settled culture and society is going to be made up of peasants, and they almost certainly will be in the numerical majority. They really don't want power, either: they're happier when someone else is making their decisions for them. They look to the priest to tell them what to think and the man on the horse to tell them what to do.

Peasants are necessary to all human societies. If you want a free and innovative society, they must not be put in charge, or at least must not be given the power to start pogroms or rabbles with pitchforks. They have virtues; but the ability to run things is not one of them. The basic problem with liberalism is that it is committed to a world view that denies that peasants form an identifiable group of people, and dogmatically pretends that they do not exist. This causes cognitive dissonance: most actual liberals know that there are indeed such things as peasants, and can easily identify them as a practical matter. They know the peasants as the enemies of tolerance and diversity: they know they exist, they know they are hostile, but the dogma of universal equality requires them to pretend otherwise. So they make trouble for themselves any time they have to acknowledge reality, and sound like hypocrites.

The problem I see is that the dogma of universal equality means that the defenders of our high culture --- like, say, National Public Radio executives --- end up having to fight with one hand tied behind their backs in the political arena.

They hesitate before saying stuff like, "We are the only radio stations in the country that play Brahms and Debussy. And Brahms and Debussy are superior to Billy Ray Cyrus or Lady Gaga. They are part of our high cultural heritage, important to the civilization we want to be. As such it remains just and right that you be taxed to support them even if you do not understand them. If you want to understand them you will need to try harder to better yourselves." They see such statements as veering into dangerous territory; they threaten to contradict the dogma of universal equality, because they do in fact contradict it. So they remain inarticulate in defining their mission.

For at least the past thirty years, politics has sounded a consistent note of rousing the rabble against their mental betters. Whether it's gays or college professors or city-bred liberals, the refrain is always the same. They're too different, and too tolerant of difference. They don't work with their hands and backs: so they're lazy and have no decency. Reading is for fags. Nobody should study other languages or cultures, except to condemn them for not being us. And because the dogma of universal equality has been drummed into their heads too well, educated people don't have an adequate response to this twaddle.


Part of the problem is that "peasants" is an attitude, not a social class or an occupation or even an intelligence or educational level. The "peasants" can be found on every level, everywhere, as can the proponents of reason, culture and intelligent dealings with others.