Quote of the Day

Another one from Heather MacDonald’s The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society. But first, a quote from philosopher Eric Hoffer from an interview he did with Eric Sevareid:

I have no grievance against intellectuals. All that I know about them is what I read in history books and what I’ve observed in our time. I’m convinced that the intellectuals as a type, as a group, are more corrupted by power than any other human type. It’s disconcerting to realize that businessmen, generals, soldiers, men of action are less corrupted by power than intellectuals.

In my new book I elaborate on this and I offer an explanation why. You take a conventional man of action, and he’s satisfied if you obey, eh? But not the intellectual. He doesn’t want you just to obey. He wants you to get down on your knees and praise the one who makes you love what you hate and hate what you love. In other words, whenever the intellectuals are in power, there’s soul-raping going on.

Now, from Chapter 1 of MacDonald’s book, The Billions of Dollars that Made Things Worse:

If the practical visionaries who established America’s great philanthropic foundations could see their legacy tday, they might regret their generosity. Once an agent for social good, those powerful institutions have become a political battering ram targeted at American society. You can instantly grasp how profoundly foundations have changed by comaring two statements made by presidents of the Carnegie Corporation just a generation apart. In 1938 the corporation commissioned a landmark analysis of black-white relations from sociologist Gunnar Myrdal; the result An American Dilemma, would help spark the civil rights movement.

An aside, it was Myrdal who wrote in 1942 that America is “conservative in fundamental principles . . . but the principles conserved are liberal, and some, indeed, are radical.”

Yet Carnegie president Frederick Keppel was almost apologetic about the foundation’s involvement with such a vexed social problem: “Provided the foundation limits itself to its proper function, Keppel wrote in the book’s introduction, “namely, to make the facts available and then let them speak for themselves, and does not undertake to instruct the public as to what to do about them, studies of this kind provide a wholly proper and . . . sometimes a highly important use of [its] funds.”

Three decades later, Carnegie president Alan Pifer’s 1968 annual report reads like a voice from another planet. Abandoning Keppel’s admirable restraint, Pifer exhorts his comrades in the foundation world to help shake up “sterile institutional forms and procedures left over from the past” by supporting “aggressive new community organizations which . . . the comfortable stratum of American life would consider disturbing and perhaps even dangerous.” No longer content to provide mainstream knowledge dispassionately, America’s most prestigious philanthropies now aspired to revolutionize what they believed to be a deeply flawed American society.

That was the lead-in for today’s QotD, the next paragraph:

The results, from the 1960s onward, have been devastating. Foundation-supported poverty advocates fought to make welfare a right – and generations have grown up fatherless and dependent. Foundation-funded minority advocates fought for racial separatism and a vast system of quotas – and American society remains perpetually riven by the issue of race. On most campuses today, a foundation-endowed multicultural circus has driven out the very idea of a common culture, deriding it as a relic of American imperialism. Foundation-backed advocates for various “victim” groups use the courts to bend government policy to their will, thwarting the democratic process. And poor communities across the country often find their traditional values undermined by foundation-sent “community activists” bearing the latest fashions in diversity and “enlightened” sexuality. The net effect is not a more just but a more divided and contentious American society.

On that note, I invite you to read a post of mine from last October, Hubris, from which the Hoffer quote came.

And which of our two presidential presumptives was a “community activist“?

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