The Pretense of Knowledge ('The educated class') - By Craig Pirrong

Posted by ProjectC 
<blockquote>'David Brooks, the New York Times’s simulacrum of a conservative, is getting a lot of attention for his condescending NYT article (but I repeat myself) on the Tea Party movement. He moans about how His Kind of People, you know, The Right Kind of People, just don’t get the kind of respect they deserve from the Great Unwashed...


So, perhaps arguing against personal interest and being a traitor to my class, let me enlighten my fellow Chicago alum on why vast swathes of the American populace are rebelling at his ilk.

The Jacksonian version, courtesy of my grandfather*: “They are as useless as tits on a bull.” (Also sometimes rendered as “as useless as tits on a boar,” depending on his mood.)


In fact, my grandfather was too kind. If only they were just useless. But as Hayek, Johnson, and Sowell mercilessly demonstrate, self-styled “intellectuals” and “the educated class” have been, for the most part, positively pernicious because of their hubristic belief in their own powers, and their own righteousness. We are currently experiencing a gale of destructive destruction at their hands. A lot of people may not be able to articulate exactly what’s wrong in ways that David Brooks would find convincing, but they have enough common sense to know something is wrong, to understand the basic contours of what’s wrong, and to know who is to blame.


And if you think (as you clearly insinuate) that the Great Unwashed are agin’ it (global warming, abortion, gun control, big guvmint, multilateralism) just cuz’ yer fur it, don’t flatter yourself. They’re agin’ it because they know BS when they smell it, and because they don’t like getting it shoved in their faces. Put differently, it’s not that they don’t like your ideas because they don’t like you. It’s that they don’t like you because of your ideas–and the consequences of putting them into action.'
- Craig Pirrong, The Pretense of Knowledge, January 5, 2010

* Lest you think him an anti-intellectual reactionary, my grandfather, though of matchless Jacksonian heritage (he was a Hatfield, through his mother), was nonetheless a highly educated and well-read man. He was, however, almost completely self-taught, due to the educational handicaps of being born poor in Appalachia at the turn of the last century. Moreover, his intellect was relentlessly practical. He learned electronics in the Navy (in which he enlisted after lying about his age to escape a dysfunctional home life and a likely future in the coal mines or shooting oil wells in the back of beyond West Virginia), and then went to work as a lineman for Illinois Bell, eventually working his way up through the ranks to become head of the North Division of Chicago for “The Telephone Company”–as it was then. He actually had to use his mind to make things, you know, work and stuff; unlike with most intellectuals, he bore the consequences of failure. He also had an intense interest in history, of all sorts. In short, although not a member of “the educated class” by any measure, he was far wiser about the world than most of those who, pace Hayek, delude themselves with the pretense of knowledge.</blockquote>

<center>The Pretence of Knowledge - Economics and Moral Courage</center>