Wealth, Intellectualism, and Individualism, Part 12

The media is slowly adapting changing reader tastes favoring impartiality over demagoguery. For example, there is evidence the liberal media is at least making some effort giving Trump a ‘fair shake’, with articles that try to impartially explore the ‘Trump phenomenon’ from a cultural anthropological standpoint, like “Why are all these people, many of who are well-educated, showing up to Trump rallies? What do they want? Maybe they have been ignored by the political establishment,” rather than just writing-off Trump supporters as ‘closed minded’ and ‘bigoted’, which is what the liberal media did in 2010 with the Tea Party.

For example, writing in The New Yorker, critically acclaimed short-story writer George Saunders describes his first-hand account (in a long form article coming in at over 10,000 words) of Trump supporters from a June San Jose rally:

The Trump supporters I spoke with were friendly, generous with their time, flattered to be asked their opinion, willing to give it, even when they knew I was a liberal writer likely to throw them under the bus. They loved their country, seemed genuinely panicked at its perceived demise, felt urgently that we were, right now, in the process of losing something precious. They were, generally, in favor of order and had a propensity toward the broadly normative, a certain squareness. They leaned toward skepticism (they’d believe it when they saw it, “it” being anything feelings-based, gauzy, liberal, or European; i.e., “socialist”). Some (far from all) had been touched by financial hardship—a layoff was common in many stories—and (paradoxically, given their feelings about socialism) felt that, while in that vulnerable state, they’d been let down by their government.

Notice how Saunders, who is a liberal, tries to empathize with them, to understand where they are coming from, and to see the positives, too, not just the negatives.

Another example is Slate magazine, which typically leans ‘left’, defending Moldbug after he was unjustly booted from a tech conference for his right-wing political views.

Also, online, in the comments especially, there is a backlash, especially since 2013, against helicopter parenting and lowered standards in academia, as parents, teachers, and even students realize that America and its fat, coddled kids cannot compete against the lean and industrious Indians and Chinese. As part of this trend, Marc Scott’s 2013 long-form article, Kids can’t use computers… and this is why it should worry you, about how kids are technologically illiterate, went hugely viral. If there is a silver lining to this, America, like a magnet, attracts smart foreigners, so this should be enough to offset declining standards–but, as part of the post-2013 SJW backlash–people are also growing weary of useless, delusional affirmations that ‘every child is special’ or that ‘everyone can be a genius’, as well as tired of false victimization, ‘safe spaces’, and ‘microaggressions’. No, some children better than others, and if you’re kid is failing it’s probably because he’s slow (the individual), not because of the school (the collective) is to blame, going back to the section earlier on ‘individualism’. But even the ‘left’, including the intelligentsia (even liberal professors), began to join the backlash when they saw free speech and the free dissemination of ideas being threatened by ‘victimization culture’, prompting even the The Atlantic, a generally liberal magazine, to address the issue in a hugely popular 2015 article, The Rise of Victimhood Culture. And from Vox, a story about college professors being afraid to hurt the feelings of overly sensitive students also went viral, as everyone agrees that political correctness on campus has gone too far, and that college should be about teaching ideas, not sheltering students from them.

But sentimentalism definitely is on the way out as evidenced by the recent backlash by millennials and other smart people against Malcom Gladwell and his belief in ‘deliberate practice’ superseding talent. Although ‘grit’ is important, it’s IQ that determines how much ‘millage’ you get for your efforts. Although this seems fairly obvious, for much of the 90’s and 2000’s during the whole ‘self-confidence’ movement – and up until around at least 2008 – there was period where seemingly intelligent people suspended judgement in a fit of mass delusion of sorts. This is because the harsh realities of Social Darwinism, the effects of which have become acutely and manifestly apparent in our post-2008 economy, douses cold water on affirmations that ‘talent doesn’t matter’ or that ‘everyone is equal’. IQ has become something of a ‘sorting mechanism‘ that separates the winners from the losers in today’s hyper-competitive, increasingly automated economy. Thus many may be preordained to fail by virtue of bad genes, inhibiting free will. Like it or not, IQ is more important than ever, and the ‘blank slate’ view of cognitive science is looking increasingly dated.

In 2013 the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, posited that some people are ‘too stupid to get on in life,’ predictably eliciting howls of outrage from the left. Maybe he’s right. The pre-2008 economy provided enough ‘good-paying jobs’ for almost everyone, but in 2008 the cereal box that is analogous to the economy was shaken, and in what could be described as a ‘tyranny of the bookish‘ the less intelligent ‘cornflakes’ found themselves at the bottom of the box and the smarter ones at the top, with high unemployment and low-paying jobs for the former. As society becomes increasingly automated, possibly even emulated or ascended, can humans, particularly those who are of lesser intelligence and or wealth, who find themselves at the bottom of the box, maintain some semblance of autonomy, purpose, and dignity.

To quote Andrew Sullivan:

It’s a huge challenge for a liberal technocratic society that the skills it increasingly rewards are unevenly distributed across racial groups. It’s equally a huge challenge for our society that the kind of intelligence IQ measures is so strongly correlated with economic success, regardless of race, and that the rewards to the most gifted in these areas are growing, not shrinking. The Bell Curve was one of the great prophetic books of our current crisis of inequality. It raised very troubling questions about this country’s ability to advance economically and not stratify into two, increasingly separate and mutually uncomprehending nations. And yet the important thing to say about it, according to so many who have never read it, is that it should never have been published and no one should have responded to it.