tv From Benito Mussolini to Hugo Chavez CSPAN September 23, 2017 11:00pm-12:31am EDT
during the 20th century and during 21st century, political were not only popular in their own countries. but were also admired by numerous highly educated and idealistic westerners. the october included adolf hitler joseph and myles, about castro are and more roongtly hugo chavez. original lyrics from immensely popular musical anything goes originally read you're the top, you are mussolini you're the top you're mrs.-- today of course is reads you are the top you're an o'neal drama you are the top you are whistlers mama so some programs programs -- progress there.
where as few people today openly praise it is not uncommon to see young men and women wearing t-shirts and to see american entertainers like michael moore and intellectuals praise the castro brothers and hugo chavez trying to understand why intelligence and educated people are attracted toal yarenism and why they persist in doing so even today after a century of incredible bloodshed perpetrated against their own people. but born in 1932 in hungary and fled to the west which when the revolution of 1956 was put down by the soviet forces.
a well known communist scholar and nonfiction author, his first book in 197 3 was called soviet and american society a comparison. in 1981 he came out with his best known work political pilgrim many faces of socialism followed in 1983 then came survivor of the decline and discontent and american and discon tengt post communist the end of the commitment only superpower and other books. today we're hear to talk about a book that came out last year. from hugo sanchez and earned a
ph.d. in 1963 and b.a. from london school of economics in 1959. he's professor of sociology at the university of massachusetts amherst and associate of the davies center for russia and harvard university. he's a member of the advisory counsel of the victims of communism memorial foundation. with that paul, over to you. >> whatever you want -- >> well something about my background, certainly we have my interests and my wife considers my nation with dark chop thes of modern history and perhaps human nature. my wife is a native born american and she could never understand how i can read terrible stories about how people mistreat --
one another for various reasons. so this interest of my long standing and i started off as a sovietologist and -- then i sort of shifted to looking at the country and the culture of the society and especially american intellectual in western intellectuals, and just said -- my best known book, and this recent book actually this book was published this year, but they 2016 but it was published last winter with i don't know why they put in 2016. anyway, this book has the blur lots in common with political pilgrim but i would like to draw your attention with how it differs from it and also site from it occasionally.
of course the major similarity between the two books that both are are in some ways concerned with the political misjudgment of western intellectuals and people who -- focus on similarity that they have both about misjudgment of intellectuals and this indeed has been a long standing preoccupation and also it's somewhat controversial point as to what precaution of western intellectuals who be characterized as left and -- some people criticize me for overgeneralizing but i repeat in this book too that -- we don't know because we don't know which sympathetic to china or cuba --
because there are no opinions addressed to intellectual of such. what we know is that there was clearly a portion of visible and vocal intellectuals who were sympathetic to this countries or political systems. and my -- my approach to this topic led me to propose a number of times that -- prevailing or surviving conception need revision and one quote one characterize of intellectual which i have clearly found dated dubious, and this wrote by edward late edward syed, he said i quote now figure of the intellectual is that being set apart some were able to speak the truth a courageous and angry individual for who no worldly power is too big and
imposing to be pointedly taken to task. he said intellectual is outsider and seemlessly margin of society unquote. now, of course, this is the same advice it was a university professor at columbia and his books were required readings of numerous courses on the college campuses and it was endlessly on tfertion not a margin of figure but he had again this -- real intellectual -- still e believe or maintain but it was a time when intellectuals were major mall figures again also depends on what society we're talking about. so i thought that political
misperception will justify some vision since i, obviously, i found that -- they locate suspending critical and act like the to believers. but again -- in the book pilgrims my major concern was the intellectuals overall perception of particular -- can i have my glass of water common assistance rather than leaders. now another similarity between the political pilgrim who can run better i have been intellectual and i've been interested in connections wean this personal and political attribute and experiences and needs political belief, and i'm still interested in that -- the political, and this is
tricky because i don't reduce political beliefs to, you know, how a person toilet trained or some such thing but on the other hand i had been repeatedly struck by collections between personal experience and political attitudes as with my own case illustrates this too. but -- sorry about my voice. certainly the 1960s many this country it was the prevalent view that the personal both determines and validates the political, i mean the personal is political this kind of 60s catchphrase. and with the left -- and how the person political that, of course, depends on many, many things in context,
and at end of the book i have a list of western intellectuals who have never been sympathizers with a movement, and avoided temptation which succumb to. i should add i have also been interested in other instances of the misjudgment or misperception of distortion of reality not only in the political sphere i've been interested in commercial advertising and, of course, in political propaganda. and -- in general i have been interested in how people deal with difference similarity between appearance and reality and, of course, this has been obvious major occupation of intellectual and appearance and reality.
and you would say that identity politics in a way is also a reflection of this connection within the person and political that people some people believe that certain kinds of identities determine political outlook. so how ideas influence behavior i also thought was a very interesting issue and much more i quote for what i have written earlier -- and i think this is perhaps the key to this relationship between personal and political which is if i have written that political attitudes beliefs often stem from nonpolitical sources. that includes a self-conscience orientation to self-expression and personal problem solving through political action and emersion.
that is to say that many of the intellectuals i have written about try to find answer as and solutions for personal problems at discontent which couldn't really be found the solutions in the public disorder or political ram. and another good comment i record to you about this matter of the intellectual and their attitudes and beliefs comes from one -- also found in an origin, and he lived an academic in england and he worked at some point many his life that -- what struck him about the involvement of progressive intellectuals in politics that the political commitment had fundamental nonintellectual name of and emotional attitude or very little to the process of reasoning and study unusually
associates with the word intellectual concord. so these are general issues and interest about intellectuals i have written about earlier and as i said i -- i have moved to some degree more interest psychological direction than a sociological an train aring i'm sociology and never been a quantitative sociologist. but again, the study both of these books reflect my preoccupation with what i call the spiritual problem -- or the by-product and aspect of it. special reference to social isolation and lots of meaning with a decline of community and and -- [inaudible conversations]
and yet again i'm tempghted to, quote, late belle who made a very god point on this subject and very curse point about about the problems of maternity he call problem of belief. he said the problem is the problem of belief. and the problem is that society falls short of responding adequately to the full range of man spiritual nature. it is a religious vacuum lack of meaning in their own lives intellectuals he was writing about absence of a large purpose in their society that terrifies them and provokes them to alien with nation and on that peaceable unquote. so -- this is a persistent strain in
my thinking of preowtion why intellectuals made this this remarkable political misjudgment. now, one difference between the political pill imrim and this book in this book i was not limiting my self but also included math subsidy germany and fascist italy an some of italian system in the art arab world as well as north korea, which received on part of intellectuals and how might be compared with mussolini and other in this book i focus on leaders on political leaders and dictators which i didn't go in political pilgrims. and so the range was wider because i was interested in the
broader issues of the beliefs of intellectuals and i came to the following region of conclusion what intellectuals also displayed religious -- religious yearnings in their search for meaning. so that they went along with this political hero worship of political leaders and dictators who really defied. now for us -- the renovation of muse lee knee was more short lived than moul for obvious reasons. but again, there was a -- obvious o irrational component to the attitudes and i think one of the most interesting findings was that -- what they admired most in the
leaders, dictators had not to do with their personality than with their actual policies now the intellectuals that first for misconception of 13 all of these leaders if he loves for kings, and dictators themselves contribute to this myth because they thought of themselves as great intellects and most have written books all of them have written books thought of themselves as great theorists and interested in art you know hitler attended exhibit of the degenerative art and moul and very much involved with particular red manuscript before they were published so they have this myth this they were also fellow intellectuals and castro western intellectuals for mirrors famous sociologist and
visit to castro are low and behold he knew about his books, and this was not an accident, obviously. so intellectuals actually this was a phenomenon of what i called politics of hospitality or technique of hospital read by intellectual who is visited the commonnist system ises in ordinary cities and familiar with their writings, of course, this this made a huge impression on individuals who thought in their own countries they underappreciated. and -- not -- didn't have influence. so these are the two major differences. here i'm interested in the phenomenon of political hero worship and not limited to the communist fronts. now -- some of my major findings of
conclusions -- what leaders had in common different or apparently different political outlook and certainly of different political ideologies you know not communist and pashist and so torte that they projected sense of mission i think that was very important, and again, this made a big impression on intellectuals who thought that their own politicians who were rather inferior and idealistic and politicians in western countries where as these great leaders were believed to be revolutionary idealists -- and he i'm quoting something by an absolute sense of moral superiority based on ideology that claim to explain everything. had this sense of certitude can
justify horror in name of sanctity, purity and general improvement. and i think this comes from shiro and political scientists. so western politicians are not interested in fundamental change of society or human nature. but as people i have written about this leaders or dig day or tores claim to be interested in just that. change of human nature. and other interesting thing about this phenomenon also been called the personality about who came up with this phrase for the personality but you could apply
to hitler and rest of them -- that interesting thing about that, about this enormous astonishing gap between the perception and image of these leaders and the lecture personality, i mean, obvious to use an understatement therm not very nice people. and this somehow allowed intellectuals and admirers and that was a huge i think one factor in had this misperception of sheer ignorance. as to what went on in society or what policies of particular leaders was. but again, i should mention here that many people try to explain that behavior of intellectuals it was intellectuals who succumb
to illusion by power hunger that they wanted power and they were under impression that intellectuals in this country rather chiewnist or o not fascist -- they have more power and more influence -- which they really didn't have, and same leaders hitler, and mussolini they have intellectuals in contempt but they could use them and they use them as much as they could. so i am not inclined to believe that intellectuals actually made this misjudgment because of their desire for power. i think i have a more chartable explanation which is simply that there was -- there was ignorance and there was unhappiness with their own society. and there was problems and lack of meaning.
lack of sense of community. and also i think one thing in my opinion a very important characteristic intellectuals have in common whether or not they admire hitler -- that they have high expectations. i think that's -- i think you could say that this is high expectations which, of course, is into idealism. and that really thought that the new chapter in history could be opened by these leaders. so -- as to my findings, i think that these might be called secular religious and impasses which are political expression. now, with if most of these people didn't actually meet personally the intellectuals in question although many of them did.
and when they did, then again they made very favorable impression and these people mussolini and rest of them they were quite good at projecting that kind of personality which had intellectuals found attractive. as ebbs this allows for image and this revolutionary idealism or o the assumption of the belief that dictator use political power wisely and benevolently that they were kind. that they -- this is the most important for intellectual they bridge a gap between syria and practice. they did what they claim to believe in. which is -- it's debatable to what extent it applies. with that authentic i think this is an important issue. i think that --
modern intellectuals especially i think american intellectuals have been particularly bothered by this feeling that they lived in inauthentic society and so much of modern social criticism of western especially american societies focused on inauthenticity rather than injustice too, but inauthenticity i think critique of capitalism much came to be focused on inauthenticity like advertising here. and public relations are these products of modern catalyst society. so by contrast these -- these great heroic leaders seem to do what they believed in. they were authentic. and again the most important from the point of view of their admirers that they had good intentions this comes up
repeatedly sounds like a matter, but this made a huge impression on many intellectuals that these people have good intentions even it when they acknowledge they didn't succeed to realize good intentions. and other thing that many of these leaders dictators give the impression that they were successful and trying to somehow blend tradition with this this sense of community. that's the idea that socialist this -- i have to say i was going to say more for nothing case of communist sisters -- that they succeeded in modernizing without alienation. that that was a claim but, of course, the nazis were very much and very self-conscienceness involved with notion of community national community as being more important than class
and class division. but i think this attempt to tradition was very important with the belief that that was in this country. now you know here again just to give you very few quotes two of this grotesque misperception with western -- intellectuals engaged this, for example, said that about -- [inaudible conversations] not in the same class as castro but he was important figure so -- thought about this is a quote that he was most complete human being of our age. now, you know again i have to reflect on this idea that so many western intlk chul this was
in the 60s and 70s. they were so-called obsessed with this problem of holiness or o lack of holeness in rest of societies. everything is fragmented. so division of labor after a the idea of marks that communist system, society, labor were disappeared and this is a tradition you know that special is source of alienation. so this remarkable observation and factor believed that, of course, resident of the society you're not whole human beings. but again the religious protection so obvious many many of the instances because
another, another well known intellectual not the same class as a doctor, but some of you i'm sure know who i were still an american journalist who was perceived as a hard lost tech finder yes newsletter, and you know -- i only call this because it is spectacular reflective of the intelligence impasses under this misperception. he said that what i quote in one desire to heal and pity for sufficienting it was out of love like the perfect night of medieval romance that he had set out to combat with the powers of the world. it was like an early saint taking refuge in the desert only there could be the purity of the face to be safeguarded unquote.
now you know that he was indeed the idealist, he died in this attempt to start the gorilla movement in bolivia many 1960s and he was executed and -- actually he himself killed people in the course of the cuban re luges and they were traitors not just during the war. and he was, he was ruthless idealist. but of course very few people like him and of course he had had books too so -- it was also possible to project to see image to intellectual who takes action. so that is another -- another explanation of the intellectuals so i have a dimension high expectations, but
high expectations could be connected with that very useful concept but i don't think it has been used lately very much and it originated with american sociology -- that is concept of relative deprivation but it's really the same thing as high expectations. without derei are vaition in other words that feel deprived because they compare their condition or the condition of other o people in their society with some ideal or some possibility or with some other societies so relative to something. you know, when people say in the united states intolerable buzz there's so much rich people and country so rich with resources that it could be legaltarian and equality could be much more narrowed. so i think this is --
excuse me this is an important idea that intellectuals have high expectations and maybe, maybe he have diminished over time. thought that society or political systems could be o much more improved much more radical improved. and -- therefore much more critical of their own societies which had had so many flaws which were familiar to them. so thing probably still remains the case for people, of course, possibility include human nature. this again in many intellectuals had higher hopes than perhaps history or sociology would justify to ever but the perfectibility of human nature. now, again on the personal and political as i approach end of
this -- discussion, again, i alluded to this only but ipts to give you one quote who wasn't -- he was weather man in you know the organization in america. and he said -- i quote we have an tension in our existence. blowing up the bad thing to relieve much of the tension. but he said so that the proceeding center doesn't become evidence of any psychological theories about radicals it should be pointed out that this is the key to his belief. he should be pointed of the psychological problem most of us have a very directly the thought of capitalism. the very virtue of capitalism
and terrorism, in fact, is that it allows spontaneous release of the frustrations caused by capitalism. i think this is a very interesting and -- authentic statement in that this person believed this at the time he made this statement. so happens this is just a quote that i met this individual two years ago. buzz he was writing his memoirs many of us and other graduates at harvard so -- interviewed me. he's now a law professor with american youth university and believes in none of that which is set in the 60s or early 70s. so i mean that's an interesting and unusual example of had belief in how society can corrupt or undermine people that doesn't mean society is in the people but suggesting that very difficult --
to draw line between social and personal, and that people respond to or similar experiences in different ways. so i think the view, of course, people like poor johnson who wrote the devastate critique and hl be my last quote he believed that -- that the prnl had a very negative impact that intellectuals and had many of the critical intellectual try to rationalize he believed that -- in other words the social extent to blame society for the personal feelings. which have little to do with flaw and injustice of the political system. so i think that true points can be reconciled in so far one might conclude that the social
set or pact of society one lives in contradicts to what seem to be purely personal problems and disposition social isolation or circumstance of identity or lack of purpose. or meaninglessness and in turn that are larger social processes we connect with modernization and rapid social change with we have this -- problematic impact on people including intellectuals. anyway, i think i could talk more about these things and that should be time for your questions and comments and -- i would just conclude by observing that number of true believes might have diminished but still are many left and probably will be for a long time in the foreseeable future even the imperfection of human nature. thank you. [applause]
thank you paul very much. jr xander is an associate rousers of politics at the university of virginia. research began with advance countries in his book sources of democratic he argued that the key that the key right of center political movements formed long-term commitments to the democracy only when their political risk in democracy became relatively low as left wing agendas moderated across time. variation in these risked used to explain conservative regime preference in regime outcome by largest countries from 1870s
france to 19 80s spain and written for "the new york times" washington post, national reu view "the weekly standard" and national affairs. he's a proud member of the academy, founding member of the academy his research concerns factors affecting the size and role of government in selected cases in western europe ands in the united states. and how they influence attempts at reform of welfare states. please help me welcome jared alexander. [applause] thank you all thank you for katoa for organizing this event thank you professor -- for joining us and sharing sort of summary and highlights from this recent project current project. as should be clear but let me run over basques to help situate my own comments here today. some basics from professors
book, i -- we know each other a little bit so do you mind if i use refer to you as paul if it doesn't sound strange but names one says that too another -- [laughter] paul's basic argument is for decades far too many we won't attempt to quantity but they've had a fascination with an attraction to authoritarian even totalitarian projects rulers and regimes. asks is as he's made clear today why intellectuals might be especially susceptible to view, attractions and then track such fascination and support for regimes ranging from mussolini to others and hugo and north korea which you might are thought would be immune to admiration. [laughter] he suggested it is difficult even impossible to separate support for these regimes are
support for the policy goals of those regimes political social or economic insist that these dynamic fascination enduring support need not until many cases may surely not apply to majority at given context but the fact that intellectuals are as a general rule idealistic, and as he just suggested may have higher than typical examination on policy and other socialout comes likely might play a role in their capacity to come to admire and defend nondemocrat projectses aimed allegedly at achieving those outcomes. so that you don't have to he works through theories proposed by a number of important thinkers, including edward peter burger, and many others considering in the process whether some characteristics unique to intellectuals for
example, as has been asked in many past years, is it their distinctive social position that mixes high social prestige with middle mechanic as might explain the political choices so many of them have made. he adds to that well known formulation of inquiry, many other more pointed questions -- might intlek intellectuals be attracted to what amount as sat us project because they're members of a self-style elite attracted to top down programs in which they can imagine themselves play important roles or at least have them play by people like themselves. are adealists here meant at least as much in sense what people thought time engaged with ideas especially susceptible to charisma of extraordinary leaders extra ordinary leaders who promise to achieve outcomes that others cannot and that mundaned procedures like those characteristic of democracy
cannot. are adealists attracted in some way to secular religious totalitarian projects in particular? in that formulation we would say they're attracted too high a rate not to authoritarian and even totalitarian project but maybe especially its project that offer idealistic at least approach to social change. his book then as he suggests catalogs specific intellectuals journeys of admiration for one dictatorship or another. those are often as examples he quoted to you quite explicit in many cases at being happy to abide by and sometimes even celebrate a lack of concern with con straints on governmental power, the exercise of clearly authoritarian and constrained
powers of the sate, and in that sense are explicitly antidemocratic and totalitarian exercise of power and after reading the quality of quote and analyze that he sites from a wide range i have to say it is hard to think quite the same way about the russ les of the world if you thought well about them before to begin with it is a sobering read to go through the chapters to think about the bulk of the book reading discourses that intellectuals start and many others happy to generate over decades praising such deeply obnoxious and destructive regime l and political projects in history. i want to fox today on challenging one important aspect paul's analysis , however. although even then let me say that if my critique is right, it would if anything conclude what his analysis is relevant to a much greater spectrum of
individuals than even he portrays to critique but it is a critique that is concerned that his analysis is even more widely applicable than it might seem at first glance. .. about the intellectual site geist in which they happen to freight and live that informs them and informed their value world views, their sense of imteartive. while that focus on
political porlarization. much more thoroughly than in most of the post war period. most obviously in the united states. secondly, and accompanying political tribalism that operates often by indicating to people, not just intellectuals but a much wider range of people in society, that they should feel and should voice loyalties to people, positions, policy, and actions, they understand to be on their side of a bind anywhere binary left, right side and something that its more pervasive. some that follows from the tribalism, which is a preference for procedural norms, attitudes towards political procedures or procedural norms that based solely in the individual's mind
on whether a given decision, rule -- i -- leads to the outcomes they want on a case-by-case basis. not out of some deeper sense that procedural norms matter as an end in themselves and should be valued independently of the outcomes they lead to and certainly on a case with case basis. let me develop these. the first is that ideology porlarization has intensified in the united states in the post war period. this is a point so familiar we new there's little need to describe the intensifying sorting of americans in a more self-consciously left and right subcultures. suffice to say i'm old enough to remember a republican party that contained a substantial liberal ring and a democratic part with a substantial conservative one, meaningless to people half my age. that assured the prior state of affairs, overlap between the two parties in both houses of congress, something that for all practical purposes does not exist at all today.
one famous metric is the left senator is right to the democrat's right, most senator. not the case when i was young. that earlier state of affairs was partly but not entirely drivenly regional political identities and the change has been substantially but no entirely driven bay nationalization of politicked that overcame or superseded regional distinctions. my send point i the effect on political tribalism. i submit that because that change of that porlarization seems to have had at least one emergent property, intensification of the tribalism to which politics is always prone to some degree, social psychologist have long observed that human beings are prone to confirmation bias by which we are more likely to apply very different standards of skepticism toings in that either
recent fore orienteesing prefer viewers rather than challenging them. the political -- to voice and feel support for political positions, people, proposals, that one associates with one's political allies and to oppose those associated with one's opponents and, third, this issue of procedural norms. i'm concerned that those two developments that porlarization and that intensifying tribalism, spill over into people's attitudes not just towards individual policies but toward also to the procedural norms through which policies and democratics are formulated. this mean decision rules, rules that organize collective decisionmaking, democracy is a procedural norm, any specific constraint on the exercise of state powers and procedural norm but you also have diverse norms within procedural norms within democracy, different electoral rules, constitutional rank.s.
the notion that people's attitudes towards procedural norms mail be driven more bid ideology that any kind of independent commitment to the norm might come as no surprise in a town in which most people's views on a filibuster seem to be decided by which party has a majority in the senate this year. not everyone switch this view on the filibuster, whether it's desirable or not, based on who has the majority as much as "the new york times" editorial board but a substantial number of people see fit to cheng their possession depending on the political outcome it's likely to lead to in the next 24 months. my concern here is that that tendency to subordinate the norms to theirle the policy outcomes can extend to issues much more central to the issue of democracy itself in just a technical party like a rule within one legislature. and it can extend worryingly to
many more people than just the political junkies who sit around worrying about the senate filibuster. so bear with me while i describe research that i'm currently doing with a co-author. we're trying to innovate on survey research that has been done for decade on what the social scientist call authoritarian values which is related to but doesn't knee me same thing when we use it more generally. we have asked a large battery of americans and are fielding a second survey shortly, whether they would support a series of government policies or practices that infringe nakedly on core civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, assembly, privacy, due process rights and other core civil liberties. simplifying findings that are partial but are evocative, and that simplification is that respondents seem plenty consistently and pretty significantly more likely to
support such policies that infringe core civil liberties when they are, one, championed by by poll tickets and when the policies are applied in or target groups of citizens, co-citizens, identified as ideaolly distant from they respondent. in other words it may be the case that self-identified liberals considerably more likely into support nicked infringements on political liberties like the freedom to disseminate and hand out fliers in a public place, and when they are championed by politicians described as liberals and applied to groups associated with conservatives and conservatives are considerably more likely to support infringements when they're championed by politicians identified as conservative and directed at groups clearly associated as liberal. a new nuanced findings will
emerge but i'll say why i connect this to paul's book. my first thought when reading it, aside from being struck by the incredible range of commentary that he unearthed was to ask whether he is sure that many average citizens might not form admirations for nondemocratic processes, procedures, regimes, rulers, associated with their side of the political divide that if they're seen as being on the left like the respondent is, like the responsible sent, or on the right whether that admiration may not extend far deeper into the population than merely intellectuals. to extent that many susceptible to the admiration and i income a way, i'm going to insist, that's already hinted at, at least in passing in paul's empirical chapters in which he sees fit to combine end ins with some people
who are clearly identifiable as professional intellectuals to others who do not seem to me to fit that description as neatly as, due respect, hillary clinton and jimmy carter. average citizens have polarized earlier or more consistently or thoroughly than other countries but to the extent that a willingness to apologize for abuses of power, a willingness to abide by or in some cases even champion a leader or regime which one one has some left or right ideologiyal affinities and not just apologize but even admire them because they are understood to reflect a per suit of -- pursuit 0 goals so passionate that one is willing to forego procedural restrains and that describes more and more of our fellow citizens and not just the intellectuals we have a
lot to worry about, seems to me, deeply concerning. that is the sense in which i meant that my critique of paul's book, the challenge i want to make today, is to suggest that the dynamics he talks about are, if anything, applicable to more people than he thinks or discusses. which should be enough to ruin our days. given his research interest into topics he will appreciate i off nor consolation. [applause] >> i'll turn it over to paul for comments, then, back to gerard and then q & a. >> i just want to comment on one aspect of his remarks as to why i was focusing on intellectuals and then nowhere do i dispute the attitudes are limited to intellectuals and i addressed in several points in the book of
the similarity between the attitude and intellectuals inted nonintellectuals kerneling the -- concerning admiration of unsavory political figures. there are three reasons why i am preoccupied with intellectualed. one is they have been familiar. i lived in the an intellectual environment all my adult life. undergraduate, graduate student, academic teacher, harvard, umass so these are the people if have known fairly well. more important that i focus on intel talk toes but a we, including myself -- intellectual because we, including myself, expect more of them or used to expect more of them. intellectuals major acclaim erred virtue is being critical, critical intellectuals. well, you know, what was easy to demonstrate, so many of them were uncritical intellectuals is
and unreflective and ignorant . so i think this was a shocking contrast with the image and preponderances self-conception. fine lit the third reason i was interested in intellectuals because i have always been interested in ideas and influence of ideas on behavior, and clearly intellectuals are the people who most self-consciously hold on to certain ideas and try to incorporate them into their behavior. so this have been in the reasons. >> thank you. >> thank you for that. so, we'll open it to &q & a and please wait until the mic gets to you. state your question in the form of a question, please, rather than a comment because other people are waiting to ask their open questions, and please tell us who you are and who you work for if indeed you have a job.
in the back. >> thank you. i'm julian with the alexander hamilton institute for the study of western civilization. it's an honor and a pleasure to be here and i just want to thank cato for hosting both these wonderful speakers. the question that i have is specifically to gerard, because i think he puts his finger on the key reason why professor hollander's discussion is indeed so relevant today, because what he discusses is the utopian dimension of both left and
right, while you indicate that there is indeed a third relevant perspective and that is the procedural. the procedural, of course, what libertarians are all about, namely, to allow for a system that promotes the liberty of people whether their prefer repses are left or right, whatever that mean -- prefer reins are left or right, whatever that means to pursue those interests. the specific question is, and perhaps beth of you if you like, paul -- whether left and right mean nowdays because after all, when we speak of left insofar as its you tonannism, liberal fascism is what, for instance, goldberg refers to as right wing and left wing together.
but then what is left? >> okay. >> is it liberal? that's the question. >> thank you. thank you very much. >> thank you, joanna good to see you. this concern with procedural norm is is not a coincidence i bring up in this house of places. it's a concern peculiar and sometimes feels to those of us who take the classal liberal form racing seriously and the way you described it, a set of rules within which a great deal of activity can happen of diverse sorts and unpredictable sorts and toy lou it to reign and thrive, the thousand flowers blooming. one does worry that is not the instinct of large numbers of people, and i do fear that the question could be misstated. we could say, look, for many decades many americans did seem dedetroited to procedural constraints the kind we talk about. now they seem less.
so how can we recover that? i think that may be wrongly formulated. it's possible, of course, that what made that willingness to see power constrained and filibuster survive, whatever the specific example, due process rights, free speech rights, was because for peculiar historical reasons, american politics were jumbled and complicated enough that people from many different perspectives could say, well, who knows how the effects of this rule will shake out. can imagine myself being a minority summon issues but a majority on others. better to preserve a framework in which many views can thrive and which minorities like i may be at times can be protected. free speech being only a very obvious one. whereas with political porlarization and sort offering the kind we have seen over the decades, members of big political groups feel often tempted to conclude that they are a majority or they easily could imagine remaining one for many years.
suspect although i have no evidence on this, it matters in the last 15 years an enormous number of progressives convinced themselves that history it on their side and they're going to be a majority. in this case the reason for prohibit himself when it comes to procedural restraint physicals away. white that thought you'll be -- i do not think it's a coincidence that the voicing is most fully articulated on campuses, where a certain brand of campus activist sees themselves as overwhelmingly powerful and high lip unlikely to be divulged bit once you left the campus gates, america presents you with so much more complexity that you think if anything to take away from last year would have been a revalidation of caution and concern with liberties and rights and protection as a pervasive phenomenal to be
enjoyed by all including one's self. don't seem to be in a moment of realization and appreciation of that. >> well, the only thing i might add to this that i fully agree that many of my findings are relevant today and in fact i have in the two pages devoted to our current president, and i think to summarize the way i would summarize the relevant today is that the -- it shows we continue to have evidence of this immense human capacity for irrational beliefs. >> okay. now, academia and my only question is, what do the public intellectuals do when their
philosopher kings turn out to be thugs. >> anyone? >> i'm waiting for the narrative other emerge with time that chavez's death replaced him with a mediocritiy who took venezuela in a darker direction. just to play off of paul's point, irrationality thrives a us a key come opinion next of the human personality. the ability to talk one's self into a rationalize one's choices away, won't say it seems bottomless but it's capacious. >> would i add that i wonder what evolutionary psychologists would say about this human quality to embraer irrational in ultimately self-defeating beliefs. >> great idea for in the next cato forum. anybody on that side?
>> i'm from venezuela. obviously we have felt the intellectuals coming down on mr. chavez and chomsky and many others, but then suddenly when things are almost as bad as they've ever been, up comes a goldman sachs and finances their horrific government. where does that fit into -- with intellectuals, whether have the been the uproar from the non -- of chavez is not the silence of many of the intellectuals real really what is worse in here? >> do you wish to direct your question to anyone specifically? >> well issue think [inaudible]
>> this applies to not just to chavez but to other cases, too. very few intellectuals who publicly renounce the earlier mistaken beliefs. there have been some people who had this kind of conversion experience and wrote about and it we have tons of books like the famous book ed edited about the -- many people have some intellectuals have written about the disillusionment about the earlier political beliefs but it's a difficult process and i think it might have been more difficult in this country because they're used to be this huge subcultures which support these beliefs, especially on campuses. so they have been a lot of group support for the mistaken beliefs and with chavez, people don't like to admit they made serious mistakes.
admitted she made serious mistakes but that's very rare. >> is it rare specifically because in a sense it is a secular religion? i mean, it's a world view which have developed and defended for decades. you can't just dismiss it. >> that's part of it. i think it may even apply to personal relationships. when people make some obvious mistake, you know, like a bad marriage, very common, nothing political about it. it's difficult to examine one's motives and where did i make the mistake? why did i pick this person? human beings are not made that way, to wallow in their mistakes. yes, sir. >> robert, george washington university.
i'm wondering if we need to look at the definition of what is an intellectual, and to what extent there's a certain amount of self-fulfilling prophecy or self-referenceal aspect to it. what separates an intellectual from a journeyman historian or political scientist at the local state teach ever's college who may well be writing in his or her field, but doesn't achieve the status of intellectual quote-unquote. i'm wondering if embracing to at that toto -- taking a position that is outrageous and gains them
notoriety and also creates a support system of -- from supporter offed the totalitarian movement that promotes that individual'd ideas beyond that which might be the ordinary scrivener who happens to be, again, a professor of political science or history, and is writing but is not necessarily -- does not necessarily gain that profile. does the very act of embracing a totalitarian movement to some extent help create this image that this person is an intellectual? >> i wrote a great deal about this matter of the definitions of intellectuals. in both the political period and in this book, and the first -- it's a slippery concept and people disagree, specially when you see, who is a true intellectual?
and i propose that there have been positive negative stereotypes of intellectuals and something i forgot to mention as an explanatory concept of the misjudgments of intellectuals, that they, too, like ordinary people have problems with their own sense of identity, and perhaps you were alluding to that, too. the intellectuals have problem with their sense of identity and taking certain political stance have to promote or bolster a sense of identity. the question is do we think of -- i don't think of intellectuals as people who are highly specialized and study insects, from. they're basically people who are preoccupied with problematic matters which irsocial, cultural and political, not highly specialized. and also i think we expect intellectual to be social critics. so we can take a more
ideological view of intellectualed as being fearless social critics or idealists or impractical and not terribly competent true believers and idealists who are looking for something that is unattainable. >> i don't want to comment too much on the particular status and nature of intellectuals after having made the point we shouldn't limit our focus to them. but i would not be the first by any means -- and paul has obviously written a great deal about how to think about intellectualed but hardly the first to point out that one big shift from the sort of high water marks of late 19th 19th century early 20th 20th century intellectualizing, is how much the massive growth of universities and colleges since 1945 has changed the face of
intellectualwiding to the point many people use the term scholar or academic and intellectual interchangeably and oxygen has been sucked out of intellectuals but no academics and the rank's those who are academics has grown so enormously. that said, think most -- your instinct, if i understand your question right, is a lot of academics wouldn't properly be called intellectuals and i think that's right. they are -- and i mean this in no particularly insulting sense, they're bureaucratted of ideas but no intellectual innovators, not big thinkers, no necessarily leave i living a life of ideas in the sense we might have meant that's earlier in the 20th 20th century. one comfort from that i think is that many of them are not the kinds of romantic idealists and year andists who might be -- i think daniel bell's notion that
we live after some age of high water mark totalistic ideology still feels passed. don't think we're ushering in new age of that. that high water mark of 20th 20th century totalistic ideology does seem as past now as it did 20 years ago or 30 years ago. what should be more worrisome is the mundane erosions, not the great big ones. so not a resurgence of totalitarian instinks on the part of average academics. it's in the notion who numbers my be relaxing due process as a important concept and speech should be tolerated across a wide array of views. at the temperature fast, first blush, seems a lot less worrisome than somebody sympathetic to a totalitarian experience elsewhere else in the world. i can't tell if it's woresome
more or less. it seems more banal and less grand. >> all right. let's go with that. >> american university. i'm just similarly curious, we definitely have been talking a lot about a lot of standards that are defined, considering ideologies, intellectuals and definitely the main source of debate in the united states as well as across the entire world has shifted a lot of the narrative away from an ideological debate, away from a debate that involves intellectuals to, rather, there's a claim of antiintellectual movement of the sort of debate that is similarly was professor alexander was saying, focus on rather your party winning, you taking points
for your side rather than your ideology in moving understand and of itself. so in this sort of a society where we have kind of ideologies and intellectualism going bill the way side, what would we see when we come to positions where there's political influence that its negotiated under procedures if really all we have anymore is procedures? what then is the future of our political identities looking like? >> anybody here? >> well, i am not sure how i can respond to your question. i just would like to say something i should have said earlier which is relevant to this current discussion itch didn't use the expression which i used in my book that intellectuals modern are day intellectuals may be used as a moralizing -- self-appointed
moralizing elite. that's important for understanding intellectualed the second point that they have this conflict between their high levels of individualism and the communityaran impasse. unresolved, conflict, stalemate, whether you're more interest in community or self-realization. >> okay. gentleman in the back and then we'll move to the center. let's make this round as quick as possible. >> john burton, journalist. how would you regard intellectual admiration for benign and acceptable authoritarian leaders like lee quan yu who has been praised by henry kissinger, paul voelker, graham alison. >> i think it's susceptible to the same kind of analysis.
if one was more sympathetic to their -- the outcomes they -- the policies that are were understood to have championed, there's a tendency to be more tolerant of the procedural nicety of their ignoring proceed all nice tide. tom freedman finding things admirable at beijing's crisp, decisiveness. if you're asking if this is applicable to across the spectrum, the answer is, yes. i mean, in a way we're being invited to have that conversation about some free marketeers the whole controversy-on-nanny mcclain's book and that they have -- whether it turns to apply buchanan turned another is morally caked than she thought, but i certainly see no rope why we shouldn't have the conversation and investigate that upas much.
wildfire right these are psychological predilections shouldn't be no reason why they shouldn't be caught. >> the only thing i would like to add that intellectuals i have been talking about are ends-oriented. not that interested in means. obviously some intellectuals are but basically ended-oriented because they idealistic and think that politicians in pluralistic countries deal with trivial matter and overly inclined to compromise and they disapprove of that. >> okay. let's go to the back. and then we'll have time for a couple more. >> roger, cato institute. question for gerard. picking up on your theme that
paul's thesis is more broadly applicable, combine that with the utopianism and irrational human beings that you both have spoken of, that irrationality is not universal. or at least some of us like to believe that. so i would ask, does your thesis that we're more polarized than ever, which seems to be correct, suggest that we're -- cries out for an explanation why that is so, and one possible explaining that at the welfare state gets larger and larger, what we want to look at is the behavior at the margins where people are more inclined toward the rational explanation, toward the tribalism, and soing for. is that possible explanation of why it is we're more divided and that is doesn't pay to be
rational under those circumstances? >> i suspect paul will have a comment on this as well. let me play thought experiment. you may have seen polls dat find that liberals and conservatives moore leakily to support even the same policy if it's proposed by politics they identify with or by people described as republicans. if they say, that's something my people are doing, then i'm probably okay with it, even if in the question you asked about identical policies. that may come across as sort of a too cute purely hypothetical or laboratory ready kind of experiment in the sense about that we don't see two parties supporting the same policy we found them supporting single pair, conservatives more consistently supporting something else, whatever that is this week. and in that sense notice that while respondents may say in a survey experiment that i'll
endorse whatever my side say, the two sides stand for some radically different things and in that sense you might say it doesn't carry over into the real world because people do sort by different kinds of goals, and yet we also know that progressives who found mass surveillance techniques by the national security state really disturbing under george bush found them to tolerable under president obama and they're not limited to just the laboratory or limited to hypotheticals to which responsible depend are representedded. that said the possibility is they're saying, those progressives i don't care if he does mass surveillance because he is for health care and that we need the second half of that sentence, that the tribalism isn't just that these are me people but these are my people
because certain issues salient here now are what create the identification and that welfare state issues may play a significant role in that. i wouldn't be surprised to fine that what was so long called lifestyle issues are cultural connotations were equally important. that's an interesting research agenda right there. >> only verying are very general comment about porlarization in american society. think this has always been a society or a culture of high expectations and maybe that's -- you would say that modernity generates high expectations and in that sense, this is the most modern society because people have the highest expectations and not just intellectuals but ordinary people, and i think high expectations are likely to lead to polarized conceptions of what is a good society, which we have now. the question is, why at this particular time?
and i'm not sure why now but there has been porlarization. has to do with these conflicting expectations. >> gentleman with his hand um. and then move to the center and finish. we have five minutes left. >> is the problem because we're self-segregating into groups able to say, i really don't know anyone like that? basically everything charles murray explores in his coming apart, and i've been thinking for some time that maybe we need a different kind of political redistricting to maximize competitiveness and lessen the advantages of incombine si and dominant political parties. >> i'm not unsympathetic
unfortunately the sorting has become geographical and the redistricting would have to be transcendentally creative. the fundamentals whether jeer graphic represent should be the basis which would be a revolution in our thinking on that subject. >> yes, sir. >> steven sure. i thought an interesting discussion. i -- there's nothing really new in digging out quote indications in the last quotations in the last hundred years of alleged intellectuals but there's an inherent bias in picking 0 out people who have gone off the deep end left and right. so finding intellectuals who lost their lives in defense of liberal capital values and free democracy and the other point is, there have been true
conversions. a book called "the god that failed" of people who gave up youthful intellectual infattation, and someone who shade something as a drunken undergraduate and then ten years later zoned up. it's another story is people are quoted, never advance, and go to the death bedded with the same totalitarian impulses that sustain them through what passed for their lives. >> yes, i am aware of this -- i have another book on the same topic called by to the end of commitment "about this phenomenon, and in this book the last chapter i have a list of intellectuals who belong to this more group who were forced
totalitarian systems, and the big question is, why some people go one way and the others another way, and i have not been able to answer that question. well, i'm very sorry. it's a testament to the quality of the conversation that there are still many questions in audience that are unanswered. unfortunately we have to end here itch would like to invite you to join us for lunch on the second floor. thank you for coming and thanks to our speakers. [applause] >> booktv is on twitter and facebook. and we want to hear from you.
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