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In The Past is a Future Country, Ed Dutton and J.O.A. Rayner-Hilles, argue that the West is about to be swamped by an unsustainable wave of stupid people. This is not the result of immigration, but rather the culmination of an evolutionary process that began in the Industrial Revolution. Darwinian selection weakened along with the increase in living standards. The result is a steady increase in narcissistic stupid people who undermine the fundamentals of Western society.
In this post, Ed Dutton makes the point that liberal female politicians are getting dumber, as a result of this process he outlined in his book. He relies on two examples, Sanna Marin of Finland and Angela Rayner of Britain, to make his point. Both women are on what we insist on calling the Left and both women are morons. Not only are they stupid, but they appear to have come from stupid parents. They are Nth generation morons who have risen to the top of politics.
It is an amusing and satisfying read for people who think of themselves on the Right, even if he is making sweeping claims from just two examples. For as long as anyone can recall, the people we call the Left have claimed that their opponents are unsophisticated morons who should be dismissed. Having this turned on its head with the use of the human sciences is good fun, but it may be missing the real cause for the great dumbing down of Western politics.
The ideal politician in a liberal democracy has an extremely high verbal dexterity along with an extremely low degree of self-awareness. In fact, the best politicians of this age are glib narcissists who have never done anything useful. Much of the panic over Donald Trump is due to the fact he worked in the dreaded private sector. Having had anything other than a ceremonial position in the real economy is so strange in politics that the political class naturally views it as a defect.
The reason for this is despite the fact we insist on calling it politics, there is little in the way of politics happening in a modern liberal democracy. Everyone in the political system agrees on the moral claims. As Marx noted, when you get the morality settled, there is no need for politics. Put another way, once everyone agrees on the goal, then you are left with a debate about how best to achieve it. The barrier to entry in modern politics is the moral questions.
As a result, the selection pressure in politics is for people who will never color outside the lines and always promote the latest thing. The more natural someone is at conforming to the prevailing orthodoxy, the less likely they are to question what is demanded of them. Of course, if they are especially good at appearing enthusiastic about the latest thing, then all the better. The people in charge are always on the hunt for the glib toady who can really sell the latest thing.
As we see with actors, a lack of self-awareness is key. Someone who is painfully aware of how they look to others, or worries about how they look to others, is not going to be a particularly good performer. Humiliating yourself for laughs or applause works best when you cannot imagine the concept of humiliation. It is why the narcissistic moron is a well-known type in the entertainment world. An idiot who thinks highly of himself, but never questions the script is an ideal actor.
Just as an actor who easily “believes in the project” is always in demand, the politician who is always ready to run with the latest thing is always rewarded. His donors will make sure he is kept in the lifestyle he thinks he deserves. His party will always rely on him to take point on the latest thing. Joe Biden made a long career in politics being a narcissistic simpleton, despite stealing everything in sight. Joe Biden is the perfection of modern democratic politics.
It is not just electoral politics where we see this process, but the politics of the managerial elite as well. David French is a goofy looking buffoon but he has risen to the top of the political media because he has no shame. He will say whatever he needs to say in order to shine amongst the other simpletons. French is the combination of oleaginous rumpswab and narcissistic simpleton that has come to define the chattering classes in the United States.
All of this is the result of democracy. Not the mechanics of voting, but the belief that the general will is the moral authority. Once a society accepts this claim, turns the mob into a god, then moral conformity must follow. After all, if there is no agreement, the general will is unknown, then the people are left with no moral authority. Therefore, the solution is to impose a moral consensus and religiously oppress dissent. The only way democracy can work is if everyone agrees.
This is why Western societies are now policed by a volunteer army of simpletons, prodded along by the autocrats. Democracy collapses if there is not a perceived agreement on the moral questions. Even though the people who rise to the top are stupid, they understand the need for consensus. This is why they so enthusiastically impose the latest thing on the public. Who they are depends upon the belief that everyone supports the latest thing.
None of this is to say that Dutton is wrong about Darwinian selection pressure declining with material prosperity. That is certainly true. Smart people made society safer for stupid people, which allowed the stupid to multiply like tribbles. The reason the stupid are dominating politics, however, is that democracy selects for stupidity because stupid people are much more likely to support the moral consensus. Poverty would not arrest our descent into democratic imbecility.
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