While it’s fun to poke fun at phony intellectuals, we should keep in mind the pursuit of honest scholarship, and admire it. 50% of everything I’ve ever learned was from scholars, then 50% of that I had to unlearn once I could tell the difference between the honest and the phony. The test of the true academician is that he seeks knowledge honestly, for the faux intellectual always has the four Aces of control, power, station and privilege, up his sleeve.
It’s honesty, not conservatism, that is the first true test of intellectualism, and among American Marxists and atheists you can probably count honest ones on one hand.
With that in mind, I want to take a more serious look at the phenomenon of the CliffsNotes intellectual, beyond the Bill Maher show biz-type and Al Gore political carney barker-type I listed here in early March.
Many younger people may not know what Cliff’s Notes are. “Wikipedia intellectual” might work better with this generation, but I have used this term since the 1970s, and it has a mustier, back-in-the-stacks library smell to it. So for dealing with dry academic subjects, I’ll hold onto it.
Cliff’s Notes are still around, but they were relatively new (1958) when I entered college in 1964. And they were all the rage…the first 69-cent shortcut for a generation that has been pioneering shortcuts in every area of culture and academe ever since, prototypes for all that would come later…
…which is a significant point about the advent of modern American Marxism and atheism.
In seventy pages Cliff’s Notes could explain virtually everything Shakespeare was trying to say (and the professor would likely test you about later) without requiring you to actually read Shakespeare; outcome-based literature in a yellow and black paperback.
Naturally, professors hated CliffsNotes and generally forbade their use. But if you were clever enough to keep that striped booklet out of teacher’s sight, you could get an A in English Lit, and maybe work your way right into grad school, where you could put on tan cord trousers, a plaid button-down shirt and black knit tie, and teach a new generation of freshmen the same great works of Shakespeare you’d never read, kicking the magic of the lazy, un-inquiring mind down the road one more generation…
…to where we are today, four decades of A’s and B’s without anyone actually reading or understanding a single thing Will Shakespeare ever wrote…until they saw the play at 30.
Which is how I learned this lesson.
There was a reason why, for two centuries, Western society had taught literature and the arts to people too young to appreciate them, so that when the film fell from their eyes at 30, it would all become revealed. They would be ready.
That purpose was lost during the CliffsNotes era of the 1960s.
So today, you can virtually CliffsNotes (vt) your way through life. And if you keep the right kind of company, no one will ever be the wiser that your intellectual vessel is just as empty today as it was when you were in high school.
The secret to Marxism is its esoteric language, the secret-decoder ring talk that could make even a Kabbalist’s head swim. This psychobabble reinforces the intellectual laziness but also creates a club-like atmosphere for like-minded individuals, which much of the academy has become. Outside that clique they all sound like Oswald Bates (look him up, if you’re too young to know him); but inside the club they are all sound bright and clever and superior and entitled, while still only equally stupid and un-educated.
This is the key. It wasn’t the logic (there isn’t any) of Marx that sold popcorn, but the club-insider message, which allowed every $30/month egghead from Heidelberg to Nantes to believe, to the deepest fiber of his being, that there had to be something fatally wrong in any system that allowed the ordinary fishmonger (and his wife) to earn $31/month.
That said, I can find no profit in moaning and groaning about this reality. It can be repaired, but not overnight. Regenerating the academy will take about the same amount of time it took to castrate it, 2-3 generations.
But you see, there’s a wahr on and what we need to do is find some profit in understanding this condition now, as the CliffsNotes intellectual makes up the bulk of the army arrayed against free men. And they are almost all cut out of the same cloth, separated only by raw intelligence, street savvy and varying degrees of debilitation from spoiled petulance and vanity. “I wanna” is inscribed on every Marxist’s secret decoder ring. It is the ring that binds them all.
As an analyst, I want to find any Achilles Heel or soft underbelly of my enemy, where I can then press my thumb until they flinch. Being exposed as piss-shallow intellectual phonies is one of the CliffsNotes leftists’ gravest weaknesses. Study and lean how to exploit that.
So, the first thing we do is dispose of the notion that the Left is smart. And by smart, I even mean educated-smart, for if you understand the modern CliffsNotes education, then you can understand how elementary it is, and how little they really know, even about the meat of their belief system. I’ve known several true communists in the old Soviet bloc and all of them sneered and scoffed at the phony Marxism among American Marxists. Imagine Richard Trumka, who has probably never read a book without pictures, scribbling out a thesis on Kapital with his blue Crayola.
The average 12th grader in Kansas in 1960 had more book-knowledge than the average liberal arts graduate today. Moreover, that Kansas high school was far more apt to build upon that education, even without college, to become a “whole person” (in the ancient Greek sense, around which the liberal arts education was built), so that, by the time he was 40, if only a clerk down at the seed store, he still knew more of the things of value in the moral, economic and spiritual universe of his home, his community and nation, than do two thirds of the faculties of the Ivy League.
How America went from one extreme of education built upon common sense to the other extreme is simple really. As I said, it began with the shortcuts, which really appealed to the inner needs (the secret supplications of the spirit) of a very high percentage of my generation, especially the self-described “better half of my half of my generation”.
All CliffsNotes did was sugar-coat a youthful thirst with a summer’s wine, where later, Marx could add the gall.
(The “better half of my half of my generation” is a term I’ve used for many years to describe the half of the Baby Boom generation who went to college, and who, at the first real crossroads, the Vietnam War, found a philosophical justification for avoiding military service by declaring it immoral, when in truth it was only inconvenient. (I.e., Bill Clinton didn’t have any deep beliefs about the war, he just didn’t like having to get out of bed at 5 AM , or having to make it, or having some big black guy yelling in his face, or sweating. As I told Gordon Liddy 20 years ago…there’s more than one kind of physical cowardice.)
(We’re still fighting that war to some degree, for when that half of my generation came to that crossroads, the best went one way and the brightest went the other. Sadly Clinton, along with many other extra-bright people, chose wrong.)
The CliffsNotes Left is also defined by an absence of logic, being able to connect the simplest of dots. As Rush Limbaugh likes to remind us, conservatism exists in Realville. So does common sense and common morality.
Besides being a body of political philosophy built around our Constitution (much of which is God-based), or free market philosophy, modern American conservatism is provable and proven. It worked in the lab and has been proven in the field, and continues to amaze even in these dark days. This is because, unlike the Chevy Volt, it has an inextinguishable power source. Nature’s own fire, making all the other theories run on AAA batteries feeble by comparison.
American economic conservatism is based on the success of millions of individual choices made my millions of individual, moral people, most of whom were of common, lowborn stock, and who first began their trek in America after having gotten off a boat in the past two centuries.
So, American conservatism is not some pie-in-the-sky theory that will eventually work if we can just adjust this knob, or that circuit, of heaven forbid, allocate more money, as modern statists insist.
Imagine building an entire moral, economic and political philosophy, a lifetime of endeavor and meaning…a life’s purpose…all based on the cherry-pickings from a thousand warmed-over CliffsNotes synopses just barely palatable to a nine-year old in Sunday School.
Marxism was originally built on a theory, but after 170 years of constant failure on every continent (China will eventually sink it, not America) it has been stretched, distended, disassembled and reassembled to confront every new true twist of free human conduct, so that now it finds itself standing against the very thing Marx swore (sic) he was fighting against.
For while modern Marxist theory moves merrily along, oblivious to this reality, American (not European) capitalism has delivered all the goods Marx promised to the workers of the world in the first place, only modern Marxist overlords won’t let them have it. As I said, China will undo all this within the next two generations…unless they, too, screw the pooch.
In like manner, the CliffsNotes atheist really doesn’t disbelieve in God. They aren’t smart enough. True atheism requires a great deal of attention to detail. The philosophical rationale being way too busy, they’ve taken the shortcut and really only disapprove of God, and the idea that He is the final arbiter of their actions. They think they (should) have a final veto over His judgments (just as they do with Mom) and can will Him into non-existence as (some say) could be done to Druid witches.
“If I don’t believe in Him, He is isn’t there” is the epitome of teat-fit logic.
Lastly, CliffsNotes Christians cherry-pick what they like and don’t like about the faith, using some of the same me-first logic of Marxists and atheists. Many (Jeremiah Wright) have created a “christian” faith out of whole cloth in the same manner Louis Farrakhan, the Wahhabis and Al Qaeda have created one in Islam. By the same token David Duke called himself a Republican and Michael Jordan a baseball player.
Good vs Evil
Many people consider Karl Marx a philosopher, but Karl Marx was to philosophy what anti-matter is to matter.
What drove Karl Marx was not any love or pity or respect for the worker (about whom he knew absolutely nothing on a face-to-face basis) or any real contempt for the system of capitalism. Any psychologist would be able to see this were he to have the nerve to study Marx as a patient instead of a demi-god.
In 1848 Marx began marshaling the world into two camps, which, if you’ll stop and consider, are now lined up almost identically with the cosmic war that has existed between God and Satan since the beginning of time.
Evil is the anti-Good, its polar opposite. And Karl Marx tapped the anti-body and anti-soul of an entire class, finding that one thing that drives most academicians, the Rodney Dangerfield “I don’t get no respect” blend of anger of being so smart, but not in charge, and envy because the fishmonger’s wife drives a bigger car. Almost all academic history has been guided, generation by generation, to reversing this unfair condition.
And they have almost accomplished it, for while we mock the faux intellectual in general, CliffsNotes intellectuals can scheme very well, and over the past forty years have redesigned the playing field into turf they know well.
In fact, they generally run the rules committee of all politics, namely because it is now a turf of their creation and to their liking.
The big joke on Marxists and atheists alike is that there is such a thing as Evil, and an Evil who knows God only too well.
You see, there is a quantum leap, philosophically, logically, even commonsensically, between denying God’s existence and denying His plans. The distance between these two points is fatal, so I find a certain irony and humor that Sol Alinsky dedicated his book to a Lucifer I don’t think he actually believed in, never knowing that he and not the minions who read his book, is the true useful idiot in the cosmic plan.
In the end, American Marxists and atheists are working for the world’s biggest, greediest, power-grubbing CEO, “spiritual head of half the world, and political head of the whole of it”-Mark Twain) who knows God and His plans only too well. Satan is many bad things, but he is too wise to be an atheist.
And he has played them all for suckers.
What a sweet irony.
Publications: Famous Common People I Have Known and Other Essays
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