For as long as I can remember, I have been extremely skeptical of popular things. For every Lady Gaga, there is a Kevin Gilbert writing beautiful magnum opuses no one will hear; for every WalMart there’s a mom and pop store treating their employees right and providing competitive prices; for every Transformers there’s an underrated 25th Hour; so on and so forth. At first it was just an unbridled elitism that led me towards alternative tastes, but disconnecting from the hive mind has been good for me for much of my life. Moreover, these sorts of choices you may view as meaningless (spending your dollars on the next iMbetterthanu rather than a technically superior alternative) have real world impacts – sometimes quite grave and ugly.
Our modern age is rife with the fallacy known as argumentum ad populum; the idea that because something is popular that is proof enough that it is good. Success in the West has typically been associated with a disgusting infatuation with value – value defined not by intrinsic quality, but by how much money something can generate. “Good” music is not necessarily well composed, performed, or emotionally stirring – “good” music is that which generates a lot of sales. Good writing is not necessarily perceptive, striking, or insightful – good writing generates sales (or hits). Public discourse over the value of things often boils down to this line of reasoning; Transformers 2 is superior to 25th Hour because Transformers 2 outperformed 25th Hour at the box office.
Our age is totally fucked. People take their philosophical advice and metaphysical insight from comedians. People write their senators about the “right” for anyone to serve in the military at the behest of a manufactured corporate shill whose only claim to bravery is to support a popular agenda at a convenient time. People buy their clothes and gadgets in a futile attempt to belong to a culture robbed of them by their very own consumerism.
Interesting though it is, I don’t have my ducks in a row to write an expose on the effects of buying from Apple or WalMart or all those other popular large companies, and the kind of evil that is wrought by it. I figure most of In Mala Fide’s readership is already savvy on those details anyway. There’s something a little more sinister at work, however, that may not have been considered.
Is it any surprise that feminism – one of several ideologies responsible for our decline – is the sworn enemy of logic? The argumentum ad populum was known long ago as total bullshit – things are not good merely because they are popular. The masses do not dictate quality (thank God). Appealing to pathos (yet another fallacy), feminist academics likened knowledge unto rape and even went so far as to suggest that Newton’s Principles of Mechanics could more aptly be called Newton’s Rape Manual. And feminism is propped up by something almost unquestionably sacred in the West – the most sacred right of “liberty” and freedom and our hallowed “democratic” institutions; the power of individual adults to vote.
Plato rated democracy as the second worst form of social organization next to tyranny, in part because democracy merely substitutes the tyranny of one for the tyranny of the many. And the many are fucking stupid. Some might nit pick and say “but J. Durden, we don’t live in a direct democracy, we live in a republic!” which is technically true. Just imagine how much worse off we’d be if we were living in a direct democracy! My favorite thing to listen to from the talking heads in the mainstream media is the “intentions of the founding fathers.” This is especially true if the talking head is a poor, non-white non-male. The founding fathers didn’t intend for you to have shit if you weren’t rich, white, and land-owning. Sorry!
But they may have been on to something. I could quibble with their criteria but a massive restriction to voting rights is in order. Corruption in our political system can be traced all the way back to the popular election of Andrew Jackson following the revolutionary and unprecedented expansion of voting rights via “universal white male suffrage.” This trend continued until everyone with a pulse who reached the age of 18 could cast their ballot to select who should be making our laws. Why should my vote – a misanthropic, nihilistic, apathetic, high-school-drop-out 22 year old troll – count the same as, say, a Ph.D holder (ignoring for a second the red herring about how the public credentialing institution is bankrupt and also without merit)? What the fuck kind of governance is that?
Laura Grace Robins had a great post which touches on how more voters doesn’t translate into anything good. John Lott has done a lot to track the growth of government and the welfare state in America and tie it to women’s suffrage. John Bagot Glubb pointed out the pattern of decline amongst all empires or large nation states is incredibly similar and generally involves both feminism and the welfare state. Yet the average person rarely questions the value and utility of universal suffrage, that most popular of ad populums.
I’m sure you’ve heard “everyone is entitled to an opinion and you should respect that,” or worse, some tripe about how everything is just a matter of opinion. This is the mantra of the loser always whining about his best (meanwhile the winner goes home and fucks the prom queen – hat tip to John Patrick Mason). Given two different ideas, one must necessarily be better than the other; this is inescapable unless comparing identical propositions. Burying your head in the sand and abandoning every metric for evaluating merit only makes the world a worse place, not a better one. Sure, you can have the right to voice your ignorance, but having the right to voice it does not confer upon you the right to be heard, considered or respected.
Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority. – Soren Kierkegaard