Author`s name Michael Pravica

Intellectualism is dying in the West

Recently, there has been a tectonic shift in the West. Debate has been stifled to the extent that even the US President and members of Congress have been censored on Big Tech platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Military, scientific and other experts have been similarly blocked from these anti-intellectual platforms which as privately-held companies hold unprecedented control of the information distributed to the Western public. People are harassed and canceled for daring to speak out.

Consequently, what used to be lively and enriching discussions about politics, science, international affairs, and other matters have now mostly evaporated on social/public platforms. People are now largely afraid of speaking out and this is dangerous as it decouples citizens from each other and from their leaders. This foments mistrust, misunderstanding, anger and division. We have basically lost the ability to properly debate one another. The willingness of many to listen to and engage differing points of view is fading fast.

Some universities, as traditional fortresses of intellectualism, are starting to crumble under this social pressure to conform to GROUPTHINK or be silenced. For example, a recent conference at Yale University Law School on the subject (ironically) of the First Amendment was noisily and embarrassingly disrupted by protestors who did not want to allow some of the panelists to speak. They had no interest in even hearing what the panelists had to say.

That's not intellectual discourse. That's censorship via mob rule.

This attack on the very essence of intellectualism, which requires a rational, unemotional/dispassionate and fair examination of all points of view to resolve any issue, is setting the West backward into a "new” era of McCarthyism and anti-intellectualism. As a mere example of how much this can frustrate human progress, consider that the ancient Greeks debated the issue of a geocentric (Earth-centered) vs. heliocentric (Sun-centered) world. However, the debate was largely won by geocentric philosophers principally because of Aristotle who was widely regarded as one of the greatest of Ancient Greek philosophers and who thus had to be "right.”

It was only many centuries later that Copernicus posited heliocentrism based on years of careful observation and analysis. Sadly for Copernicus, his work was published after his death because he was too afraid of being persecuted for his views when he was alive as they contradicted Catholic Church teachings.

Galileo also promoted heliocentrism, was tried for "heresy” by the Vatican and forced to publicly recant his views and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Kepler and Newton later definitively proved heliocentrism by careful data analysis and the theory of gravitation. Thus, the key to resolving the issue entailed allowing scholars the freedom to garner data, analyze it, and challenge "conventional” viewpoints for a viable explanation of planetary motion in our solar system.

Today, the West, which has accomplished so much via unfettered intellectualism, is tragically in a similar situation to what humanity experienced during the Dark Ages. Scholars are being bullied, fired and prevented from voicing their viewpoints and interjecting their hard earned expertise into debates. In many cases, this information may have saved lives. Instead, we have pseudo-intellectuals such as Bill Gates (who is not a virologist and doesn't even have a college degree) "informing” us about the COVID pandemic instead of real scientists!

Shockingly, even some Federal agencies banned their own scientists from sharing their data (e.g. on climate change) and publicly speaking out. This will only prevent thorough and comprehensive discussion and analysis of issues such as climate change, the origins of and medical solutions to the coronavirus pandemic, natural resource depletion (e.g. drought), poisoning of our environment, overpopulation and many other pressing issues — stultifying their resolution which hurts all of us dearly. It will also affect the ability of scholars to "think outside of the box” as they will be too fearful of exploring "controversial” ideas for fear of retribution. As in the Middle Ages, we will be limited and controlled by our ignorance and fear.

In true debate, the best solutions are jointly "worked out” by scholars who study as many facets of complex problems as possible for as long as needed. This is the core of intellectualism. These remedies are further debated by the public and its leaders and then implemented.

Democracies require an educated populace to support wise and rational decision making. Humans may be fundamentally irrational/nonlinear creatures (which enables their creativity) but it is rationality and the willingness to talk to one another and actually listen that builds and maintains civil societies — not hysteria, censorship and mob rule which destroys them. Not only does this requirement of an educated citizenry pertain to scientific issues, but also to diplomacy. When, e. g., Russian sources of information such as Russia Today are nearly completely muzzled in the West, Western citizens and their leaders do not learn the entire story of what is going on in the Ukraine and will make faulty conclusions leading to dangerous, rash and ill-thought out decisions by leaders. This will be catastrophic for the West (possibly leading to WWIII) just as Hitler's pseudo-intellectual "logic,” arrogance, ignorance and irrational hatred and jealousy of the Slavic peoples resulted in the downfall of Nazi Germany.

When leaders on any side of a conflict do not want to hear all sides of an issue, they create a wall of ignorance around themselves that isolates/insulates them and stultifies diplomacy which by definition acknowledges differing viewpoints. This guarantees that war (might makes right) will be the only solution. The problem is that the conflict with Russia may lead us to WWIII which no one will win, and we will all collectively lose.

Intellectualism is dying in the West and in other regions of the world where there is no free flow of information. This will have devastating consequences as we will be unable to find and implement long lasting and rational solutions to looming problems that threaten humanity because our collective creativity is quashed by fear. The hysterically blind are leading the blind into the darkness.

History provides many stark lessons to what happens when ignorance and fear overrule reason and civility. We should all be deeply concerned.

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