The culture and social protocol of a civilization will naturally vary as time goes on. As people learn more about each other and their values, standards have the potential to improve and social frictions start to fade. Each new generation has its own tribulations, and regardless of any past success or future failure, lessons are being learned. The issue is that each generation believes it’s wiser than the next, and they make rabid attempts to guide their successors, despite operating on outdated principles, and rarely acknowledging the value of anything contemporary or non-traditional. This disconnect helps the older generation coax the younger one right into a straitjacket.
As these generations progress and their ideals cycle, new styles of thought and practice emerge. Ages and eras manifest themselves based on what people are focused on and thinking about – Prohibition and the Renaissance weren’t conjured by coincidence. Using Sparta as an example, their focus was on military prowess and combat capability, and they were a seriously hard empire to deal with because of that.
New ideas and directions are exposed to the light every second due to the inter-connectivity enabled by the internet. The social changes and political repositionings in the modern world are more rapid than ever because there is always a dialogue taking place, either in person or on the web. There’s barely any time to put new ideas into practice because the existing template might still be fresh, or another concept is rolling down the pipe. There is a crossroad between implementation and innovation; one is starting to outpace the other.
As new schools of thought structure and define themselves, axioms are formed. One ideal will emerge and prove valuable to a collective, and a counter-faction will form to oppose the teachings and message of the original collective: fascists and anti-fascists, the KKK and the Black Panthers, Nietzsche and Camus. Once an idea takes a shape, an anti-idea manifests itself in the opposite shape. Each generation develops its own approach to the puzzle of intellectualism. They all create their own idea-shapes and philosophies, and try to piece them together logically, in ways that make sense or paint a bigger picture. Just a short two centuries ago, it was perfectly acceptable to own another human being. It took several cycles to realize that component didn’t fit with the rest of the idea structure. This amendment was made when letters were still sent by train and horseback; simple times often encourage simple thinking patterns, and so changes take longer to make because the conversation is slower, information moves slower.
Regardless of any proposed method of thinking, dogma was the standard for several thousand years: information and guidance were handed down from the top, so people from every walk of life were told how to live, whether it was decreed by an emperor, a pope, or a feudal lord. The individual figureheads still remain, but their power has been mostly transferred to the corporate hydra and various political and economic institutions. Liberty and freedom continue to be ladled out from the top while those at the bottom are distracted by even the most simple of luxuries. Only Western societies praise the status of their poor: publicly educated, overworked, overweight, and clinging to petty possessions like cars and iPhones.
Through this process of trial and error, intellectualism in the West comes to a crossroad. The Postmodern thinkers and theorists of the 1960’s and 1970’s introduced a deeply rooted sense of skepticism toward every component of reality. The ripples of that skepticism folded over in the minds of modern thinkers who have convinced themselves that they don’t have to believe in anything, forming the anti-idea: dogma shifted to doubt, and now doubt is the only avenue left to the average person. Evidence of this can be found in the seemingly random resurgence of Flat Earth believers. There isn’t any evidence to support such a claim, and yet this blatantly debunked talking point refuses to die. The reasoning is simple: the doubt injected by Postmodernism allows for the dismissal of factual evidence, but the true issue rests in the fact that very little of such evidence is actually being shared at all.
The trapdoors within Postmodern theory are only made deeper and more plentiful by government systems and the media – entities who fabricate and misrepresent information in an attempt to annex focus and control. The sense of skepticism handed down from Postmodernism is justified because of the structured misinformation and exploitation carried out by corporations and politicians. It’s justified because the internet acts as an echo chamber for ideology, for fake data, for misinformed opinions, racism and hate. Modern thinkers were led astray by two conflicting factors: they’ve become skeptical of everything (perhaps even the shape of the planet), and when they aren’t full of doubt, the conversation taking place is likely rooted in false information, rendering it moot. Even when engaged in an open dialogue, nothing honest is being shared, no progress is being made. Unbiased information can really only be found independently at this point, as news stations and social media are more concerned with ‘reporting first’, fear mongering, and various personal agendas.
Anti-intellectualism is a complete contradiction of mankind’s comeuppance. Only one species has experienced revolutions of science and industry, a Renaissance, the rise and fall of a thousand empires, and even the Enlightenment. Instead of Postmodernism, young generations could adhere to the idea of Post-Enlightenment. The implications of being beyond modernity (or beyond truth, as Post-Truthers imply) aren’t progressive or practical to a civilization. The implications of Post-Enlightenment are that of being enlightened, intellectually honest, a free thinker. It implies that people are capable of legitimate reflection on their history, and take what is known and what is learned more seriously; stop entertaining fake news and celebrity gossip, quit following the virtue signals and mindless social trends, cease to ship children off to schools that use broken education systems, and stop exchanging our time, energy, and spirit for artificial illusions we’ve confused for necessities. Most important of all, Post-Enlightenment means to stop feigning ignorance in regard to things we know for certain.
Undeniable logic will make its stand against unreason and dissonance in the coming decades. Too many lessons have been learned and relearned, as any student is reminded by their history textbook. Anti-intellectualism is doing more than just jamming up academic progress and discussion: it’s stripping us of things we know are true, conjuring its own process of unlearning. We have to stop addressing the symptoms of anti-intellectualism and attack the very notion itself. An actual cure must be found, an anathema for ignorance, and it must be applied immediately. Admitting that we understand the mechanics of the human condition could be a wonderful first step – pretending to not understand exactly where we’re at and what we’re doing has only produced environmental pollution and tenacious mental illness; concepts that are more closely connected than one might think.
What the axiom of Postmodernism and Post-Enlightenment boils down to is expectation; Postmodernists expect to be dealt a stacked hand, something veiled in illusion that warrants caution; Post-Enlightened thinkers expect a dilemma that they are more than capable of overcoming through logic and reflection. Free thinkers should hold themselves to a higher standard in terms of sourcing information, learning, what they think, and how they arrived at such conclusions. This isn’t to say that Postmodernism should be totally discarded. Like any school of thought, it has a value that can be salvaged and applied elsewhere. Post-Enlightened thinkers would do well to salvage as many failing ideas as they can.