You might remember a movie that came out in 2006 called “Idiocracy.” In it, an average Army private is involved in a 2005 hibernation experiment. But then, when the experiment site is closed down, he is forgotten about and left to sleep. He finally wakes up in 2505 and, because of the low intellectual state of society, finds himself the smartest person in America. The film prophesies an America largely devoid of logic, intellect, and taste. Kind of like modern Manhattan, without the good restaurants. Granted, if those restaurants were still open.
I was reminded of the movie when I read an article in The Dispatch by pundit Chris Stirewalt. Stirewalt makes the point that we don’t have to wait 500 years. The Idiocracy is upon us.
“The evidence comes from across the country. It transcends divisions of politics, economics, education, ethnicity and gender. You’ve got the nephew of a former president all the way down to a post-adolescent YouTube wannabe. What connects them—the same thing that threatens the health of the republic—is rank imbecility.
Foolishness is nothing new in America. This is the country of P.T. Barnum, medicine shows and pet rocks, after all. But our current concentration of imbeciles has surpassed any kind of safe level. How we became a nation of so many dupes and fools is a matter at least as complicated as the causes of Trump’s presidency. What stands out, and as the sad state of Washington’s schools suggests, is that we are suffering the consequences from generations of Americans who are both undereducated and miseducated. This many millions of nincompoops didn’t show up overnight. They have been stumbling out of our nation’s failing schools for decades.” Spot on.
As Stirewalt mentions, this cuts across parry and political lines. It’s evidenced in the cult of personality types who stormed the Capitol and in the racists and authoritarian socialists who permeate the Democrat Party. It could be said some are not imbeciles, they are evil. True enough. But my experience in politics, indeed in life itself, tends me to towards embracing Hanlon’s Razor. That is a principle that states “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Both parties, most people. Uh huh.
Did we think that replacing films geared towards adults with super hero comic book fare wouldn’t have an effect? Did we think degrading music to the level of rap wouldn’t bring consequences? Did we think turning schools from centers of education into indoctrination camps would go off without a hitch? Did we understand that when a society embraces the lowest common denominators it lowers that culture and its denizens into the intellectual sewer? Apparently not, because here we are.
Can anything be done about it? No. At least not anytime soon. Hopefully time will generate a renaissance of high culture and intellectual curiosity. Until then, we live with it. We deserve it…Tomorrow we’ll write about the alternative to this morass, The Reasonable Society.