A few years ago on one of my friend George Ann Hugh's The Byte Show, we were talking about education, and the elite. It was, for a few minutes, the usual regret about the dumbing down of the general population of the West in general, and the USA in particular, as part of a carefully conceived and well-executed plan by the elite, put into place before the Second World War, and really taking off in the years afterward. For those familiar with this long and devious story, it involved the usual suspects: various foundations of the super-rich, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and so on, doing what the super-rich like to do in their idle time: plot domination and control.
But I quickly pointed out another phenomenon in those interviews, namely, that by surrounding themselves with mirror reflections of their own psychopathy, with "yes men" and people that shared some if not most of their own "cosmology," the very elite was boxing itself in, and eventually, dumbing down itself. If you've noticed a trend in speeches of major leaders of the West lately, you'll have noticed not only the galloping somersaulting illogicality, but a general decline of rhetorical polish. Think only of GW Bush's constant mispronunciations of "nuclear" as "noo-kyoo-lar" and so on.
Now someone else seems to have noticed the trend as, judging by vocabulary usage, the Presidents of the USA are showing all the signs of first class stupidity(thanks to Mr. S.D. for pointing out this short, juicy article):
However, one remains unconvinced - or at least, I remain unconvinced - of the explanation being offered here:
"It's tempting to read this as a dumbing down of the bully pulpit," Jeff Shesol explains. "But it's actually a sign of democratization. In the early Republic, presidents could assume that they were speaking to audiences made up mostly of men like themselves: educated, civic-minded landowners. These, of course, were the only Americans with the right to vote. But over time, the franchise expanded and presidential appeals had to reach a broader audience." (Emphasis added)
In other words, we can all relax, it's just "democracy" at work; the hidden text is "Remain calm, our leaders are not really getting dumber."
If you've been following the trend of "civilization" lately, however, you'll know this is at best a meritricious explanation. As a friend of mine observed, psychopaths and narcissists rule the corporations and governments, while PhDs bus tables and man convenience store checkout stands. One has only to read the speeches of late nineteenth century leaders, or even the popular McGuffy Readers, a standard text in that century, to realize an eight-grade level of reading then far exceeded the current level of college education for vocabulary. In short, we have become "dumber," and this stupidity is, in part showing up in the counter-intuitive make-believe foreign and domestic policies we see today. Of course, education is no measure of moral worth or character. It does not bode well for the future of western civilization, however, when one adds stupidity to narcissism and psychopathy.
See you on the flip side.