The title of this post come directly from a book written by Thomas Sowell, himself an intellectual, author and economist. I have great respect and admiration for Mr Sowell and consider him to be one of the great minds of recent times. At first glance the book 'Intellectuals and Society' may appear to be in support or to the benefit of intellectuals, their integrity and reputation, but it is not. Why?
Every society, country, nation is guided forward by the leaders of that particular population. These leaders look to their best and brightest for guidance to make the kind of decisions, which will benefit the people they govern or employ. It makes sense to gain insight, understanding, direction and guidance from those who appear to have the greatest level of knowledge, the Intellectuals, but this approach appears to be failing as often as it succeeds. In his book, Thomas Sowell highlights the fact that Intellectuals seldom suffer the consequences of their decisions. The decisions they make are heavily based in theory, yet this is apparently enough to implement them widely, affecting and influencing the nature of a social system and structure. If these decisions fail dismally, do the Intellectuals suffer any consequences, in most cases they don't.
This post isn't about burning the reputations of intelligent people, we need them, what we don't need is arrogant and ignorant intelligence. Some intellectuals are worth their weight in gold, while others are parasites, using their positions to gain admiration and attention. Intellectuals usually want to make their mark, to be known for something, but this comes at a cost, as their theories are often put into practice using other people and groups of people as guinea pigs. Some of the most intelligent people in the world have achieved many great things and are responsible for some of the most amazing discoveries known to man, I accept and unequivocally acknowledge this fact, but this article is about how intellectuals are failing, as we must learn from our failures as well as our successes.
In Intellectuals and Society- Part II, we will look at Intellectuals as individuals, in an attempt to understand why intelligence can also lead to great failure.