Rule by the Ignorant and the Stupid
I am now listening to The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828. Early American history is one of my interests, and this book is about something of special interest to me – the transfer of power from the Founding Fathers, who provided excellent leadership – to the mass of the people, who were not qualified at all. This has been labeled Jacksonian Democracy, and marked a huge shift in the composition of the American people – who were now mostly poor immigrants interested mainly in getting ahead – the acquisition of money and power as quickly as possible – often by taking land from the Indians.
Andrew Jackson, who was a frontiersman and an Indian Fighter, was their man. John Quincy Adams, who was from the New England aristocracy, well-educated and experienced – was not.
The 1820s also witnessed the irruption of new kind religious fervor based on mass appeal. My family’s religion, Mormonism, had its beginnings then – and drew its converts from the lower class of people on the American frontier and from the same class in England. I grew up in this atmosphere, and remember it well. We were ignorant and stupid – and most of my family still are. Naturally, I do not tell them about this.
The recognition of the mass did not happen until about 1930, when Ortega y Gasset wrote his The Revolt of the Masses – an important book that has not been noticed at all by the intelligentsia – of all people, who to this day pretend it never happened. Everyone must believe in Democracy – and ignore its grievous faults. The main one being that the people must be intelligent and well-informed – which the mass of them certainly are not.
People everywhere cannot realize how ignorant and stupid they are. And those who take advantage of this situation are in no hurry to inform them about it. They want people who can be easily manipulated – and as if by magic, such people have appeared in great quantities.
Few (even Ortega y Gasset) had given any thought to where these people came from. They were the by-product of mass production – the Industrial Revolution, that needed ignorant people to run its machinery (the first of which was the Sailing Ship). Surprisingly enough, far from the English factories, these people also existed on the fast-growing American frontier.
And now, nearly everywhere else in the world.