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September 24, 2021

At The Pipeline, Angelo Codevilla's Last Essay

Michael Walsh is editing/organizing a book that argues "Against the Great Reset." Among the authors submitting essays was Angelo Codavilla, who submitted one about the great need to take back our education system. (Alas, education underwent "The Great Reset" decades ago.)

The full essay is at The Pipeline, but here's some of it.

The closer one looks at education today, the more one sees that the dumbing down and perversion of America to which people object most strongly is the continuation of a century-old decay in our civilization. Problems with education bespeak civilizational ones, of which the phenomenon of Davos Man is but one manifestation.

Any civilization is the totality of the language, habits and ideas in which people live and move – the human reality that defines their practical limits. To see how grossly unequal to one another civilizations are, it is enough to glance at how much or little understanding of reality the languages they speak contain -- what any given language enables, or not. We are accustomed to Greek, Latin, English, French, Italian, German, etc. with their massive dictionaries, full of definitions, pronouns, tenses, moods and concepts, all tied together by grammar that flows from logic. When we speak these languages correctly, we hardly realize that we are wielding powerful tools of reason, developed over thousands of years.

But acquaintance with the languages that most of mankind speak shows that most contain few well-defined words, and almost no grammar. Little intellection. Almost no reason. Sometimes they lack even the plural. Here we must term those who speak a form of English, French, etc. that they barely grasp as superficially civilized, if at all. Monkeys with keyboards.

Whoa dude I didn't come over there bustin' up your shit.

Without going to any depth in the debate between the human possibilities that nature and nurture provide, enough experiments have been carried out that show that nature does not limit babies born into primitive tribes to lives near the level of quadrupeds, just as it does not endow the offspring of Ph.ds's with high I.Qs. Quantification is unnecessary for us to know that much of civilization depends on the habits of body, heart, and mind into which we are civilized.

We may never have heard of Plato's prescription that the body and mind are best trained for reason by physical discipline, that the right kind of music enhances these and the wrong kind hinders it. We may no longer play musical instruments as much as earlier generations. And yet all who are part of Western civilization carry with us, among other things, a musical heritage based on mathematics and melody that also sets us apart from other civilizations.

What, then has education been doing to our civilization? The very concept of IQ, of Intelligence Quotient, of the Stanford-Binet test and things similar, is, as its critics argue, a cultural construct – less a measure of potential than of capacities already developed. No surprise that persons growing up in environments that stimulate and enable the development of human possibilities do in fact develop more of these. Some studies suggest that the complex of what each generation conveyed to the next made those generations more intellectually/morally potent than their predecessors though the early twentieth century, but that this process has reversed itself over about a half century and average IQ has dropped by some 14 points. The decline seems to have come at the top of our civilizational pyramid. Speculation about the causes is less relevant than noting the effects.

But the deepest philosophical causes are not in dispute. After Descartes' Discourse on Method reduced reality into something wholly comprehensible by truncating it, the very peaks of Western philosophy reversed the relationship between reality and the observer. Kant and Hegel's "idealism" is neither more nor less than the further affirmation that the mind, for its own sovereign convenience, can take possession of what it perceives. From these philosophical peaks, any number of streams of far less sophisticated thought have flowed that effectively and explicitly place the mind's product under the sway of man’s will, and hence of man's various interests.

The intellectual mechanism is straightforward: presume to abolish the objective status of what you see, and presume to retake possession of what you then suppose to be reality, based on what matters to you.

From Ludwig Feuerbach’s injunction to worship Christianity as our own creation, to Karl Marx's assertion of sovereignty over the mind's products as "superstructural," to class interest, to Sigmund Freud's assertion of perceptions as reflections of sexuality, the main streams of latter-day high Western thought have de-valued reason and reality in favor of all manner of self-indulgence. Today, colleges teach students to disparage reference to facts and logic as "logism."

Loosening our bounds to reality is attractive also because calling things by whatever names serves our immediate purpose liberates us from the hard work of understanding things not of our making, and gives us the illusion of mastery over our environment. It is especially attractive to those who have power over others, because it frees them from having to persuade the rest of humanity. For society's mob of lazy under-performers, pleasing the leaders is an easier way of securing one's place than competing for merit. Anyhow: intellectual/moral deterioration has ever been an easier sell than the hard acquisition of skills and virtues.

In our time as ever, there does seem to be a natural concurrence of interest in imprecision and lack of discipline between those who are happy enough to be barbarians and the despots who naturally dominate barbarians.

Great essay. Follow the link over to The Pipeline to read the rest of it, and check out the other essays Michael Walsh has on offer. Such as David Solway's "The Coming Viral Dictatorship."


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posted by Ace at 05:33 PM

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