Thursday, May 22, 2003


Irving Kristol, one of the founders of the Neoconservative movement, famously asserted "There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work." I am not interested in trying to refute this notion—to claim that public truth telling is feasible or philosophically unproblematic would be to practice a different sort of hypocrisy—but I do think it is important to bring out one unspoken assumption of the rhetoric. The premise of the Neocons is that they represent the “highly educated adults” in the quote, that they are an august elite of philosopher kings and not simply a claque of geeks doing P.R. for billionaires.

Here’s what got me thinking about this issue. I most recently ran across the Kristol quote in an article on right wing attitudes towards Darwin. Although traditional Creationism is a bit low brow for these middle brow people who think they are high brow, the Intelligent Design movement appeals to them. Of course it may be the case that the various anti-evolutionist writers in Commentary are just practicing programmatic untruthfulness on this issue, but you get the impression that they really don’t know that the debate about evolution has been over for 120 years or so and that Anti-Darwinism only makes sense as part of a cynical culture war or as sheer wish fulfillment. Now I assume that Stalin actually thought Lysenko was right, and I expect Irving Kristol, Leon Kass, and Robert Bork have a similarly misplaced faith in Behe, Berlinski, and Dombrowski. If so, they reveal themselves to be liberal arts idiots of the first water.

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