UPDATED (12/20): America: Aphorisms On Conformity

America,Critique,Culture,Economy,FRED REED,Individualism Vs. Collectivism,Intellectualism,Pseudo-intellectualism,The Establishment


In discussion, Fred Reed, Barely a Blog columnist and writer extraordinaire, offers insight that explains my overall experience:

“America has always had a strong economic back and weak cultural mind, being anti-intellectual and given to envy and resentment of the smart and cultivated.”

De Tocqueville, Mencken and others made similar observations. “Certainly Tocqueville in the 19th century, and Solzhenitsyn in the 20th, noted that conformity of thought is powerfully prevalent among Americans,” as Clyde Wilson has observed.

“A glorious commonwealth of morons,” Mencken called America. “The American moron’s mind”—this “mob-man’s” mentality—is that of a “violent nationalist and patriot,” to whom ideas are a menace, and who would always opt “to keep his Ford, even at the cost of losing the Bill of Rights.”

These are all Mencken’s words, not mine. See: “H.L. Mencken: Misfit In 21st-Century America.”

UPDATED (12/20):  This Facebook reader has the right approach. Relax and enjoy The Difference. Don’t be an Enforcer.

* Image courtesy of Picture Quotes.

One thought on “UPDATED (12/20): America: Aphorisms On Conformity

  1. Nicholas

    Tocqueville is worth quoting at greater length in this connection: “When you come to examine how thought is exercised in the United States, you notice very clearly to what extent the power of the majority surpasses all the powers that we know in Europe. … Today, the most absolute sovereigns of Europe cannot prevent certain ideas hostile to their authority from circulating silently within their States and even within their courts. It is not the same in America; as long as the majority is uncertain, people speak; but as soon as the majority has irrevocably decided, everyone is silent, and friends as well as enemies then seem to climb on board together. … I know of no country where, in general, there reigns less independence of mind and true freedom of discussion than in America.” (2010, 416-417)

    Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, who freely acknowledges his intellectual debt to Tocqueville, also wrote perceptively on the intense leveling pressures which democracy, when merged with the modern administrative state, exert on organic societies (1974, 27-35). In terms of praxis, every healthy regime necessarily admits of certain aristocratic qualities in its rulers and under such conditions is amenable to a wide array of political constitutions; but modern mass democracy, scornful of real diversity, that is, of merit and character, inclines inevitably towards totalitarian modes of thinking.

    This is arguable all the more so in a people (such as Americans may still constitute one) long since glutted on material comfort and technological convenience, since, having grown lax in the exercise of civic virtues, they are less alert to the implicit dangers of participating in mob behavior.

    Works cited:

    Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition of ‘De la démocratie en Amérique’. Volume One, ed. Eduardo Nolla (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010)

    Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Leftism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse (New Rochelle, Arlington House Publishers, 1974)

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