(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Conservatism and Stupidity

I did not mean to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative.

John Stuart Mill, quoted by Jonny Thakkar in “Why Conservatives Should Read Marx,” The Point

The remainder of the passage from Thakkar attempts to clarify Mill’s intent: “A neat insult for any Leftist to have up his sleeve, but it bears noting that Mill used “stupid” as something of a technical term. A good test for whether someone is stupid, he suggests, would be to see whether their thoughts on a given topic could be inferred from those of their social circle. How would today’s Leftists do by this standard?”

The idea is compelling, particularly once Mill’s notion of stupidity is understood. In that light, the statement “Stupid people are generally conservative” becomes one of mere fact. But the idea of “stupidity”–I daresay even in Mill’s linguistic moment–is enough to give one pause. No one wants to be stupid, though can we really be expected always to derive our thoughts on a given topic from other than our social circle? Perhaps not. Criticality and liberal education are the implied antidote, I think, to this kind of stupidity. And of course Mill would imply such a thing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 21, 2015 by and tagged , , , .
%d bloggers like this: