Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The 10 Commandment Decisions and Neuroscience

Shortly before he died, Christopher Lasch diagnosed a fundamental disorder in our democracy: The Revolt of the Elites. While I don't agree with his argument in toto, the 10 Commandments decision (and for that matter, the Kelo decision) reveals the stark divide in mores between the self-serving intellectual constructs of judicial elites and the common sense of the average American. At this point, the Supreme Court is at the cutting edge of the culture wars insofar as it represents the pinnacle of power achieved by the elites (and here I refer to the intellectual avant-garde amongst the elites, not the entire managerial class). And these elites have, of course, attempted to stack the deck in their own favor.

I am certainly not the first to point out that the culture war tracks the rise of the New Elite. And it is clear that the main battlefronts are those social spheres in which the Elites dominate, including the media, arts, and academia. As I noted in a previous post, these are (for some) calculated power grabs in the Gramscian mode. And the tightening of the reins of power in these domains is accomplished, in part, by an esotericization of knowledge and discourse, effectively blocking participation by "ordinary" citizens. These trends ultimately lead to deeply anti-democratic calamities such as the EU Constitution crisis.

With the rise of the blogosphere, we have seen the counter-revolt of the citizenry (note that I will not use the term "masses"). So far, this movement has been most effective in domains nominally concerned with the polis, namely politics and political coverage in the media. The blogosphere's greatest impact on the academy has been the exposure of the Ward Churchill scandal(s), which has direct overlap with the blogosphere's primary concerns. To date, the left's dominance over the substance of the curriculum has been untouched. Just ask Larry Summers.

And in Larry Summers' dilemma, we see the link to neuroscience. As I have hinted in previous posts, the level of complexity encountered in the study of the brain and of the genome raises the possibility of an intellectual elite serving as the guardians of special knowledge. For sociological and historical reasons that are still not entirely clear to me, these guardians are nearly as uniformly leftist in ideology as the other Elites.

The foremost purpose of this blog is to provide a link between a common-sense conservative understanding of ethics and politics, and the exponentially expanding knowledge base of neuroscience, including brain imaging, psychopharmacology, and genetics. It has been my continuing observation that le plus ca change..., and that these new discoveries need not fundamentally undermine a traditional understanding of human nature and its political needs.


Post a Comment

<< Home