Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Role of Intellectuals

Before explaining this answer as another step in the direction of this goal, a second sociological fact has to be recognized: the change of the role of intellectuals, of education, and of ideology. As soon as the protection agency becomes a territorial monopolist—that is, a State—it is turned from a genuine protector into a protection racket. And in light of resistance on the part of the victims of this protection racket, a State is in need of legitimacy, of intellectual justification for what it does. The more the State turns from a protector to a protection racket—that is, with every additional increase in taxes and regulation—the greater does this need for legitimacy become.

  In order to assure correct statist thinking, a protection monopolist will employ its privileged position as the protection racket to quickly establish an education monopoly. Even during the 19th century under decidedly undemocratic monarchical conditions, education, at least on the level of elementary schooling and university education, was already largely monopolistically organized and compulsorily funded. And it was largely from the ranks of the royal government teachers and professors, that is, those people who had been employed as intellectual bodyguards of kings and princes, from where the monarchical rule and the privileges of kings and nobles was ideologically undermined and instead egalitarian ideas were promoted, in the form of democracy and socialism.

  This was with good reason from the point of view of the intellectuals. Because democracy and socialism in fact multiply the number of educators and intellectuals, and this expansion of the system of government public education in turn has led to an ever greater flood of intellectual waste and pollution. The price of education, as the price of protection and justice, has gone up dramatically under monopolistic administration, all the while the quality of education, just as the quality of justice, has continuously declined. Today, we are as unprotected as we are uneducated.

  Without the continued existence of the democratic system and of publicly funded education and research, however, most current teachers and intellectuals would be unemployed or their income would fall to a small fraction of its present level. Instead of researching the syntax of Ebonics, the love life of mosquitoes, or the relationship between poverty and crime for $100 grand a year, they would research the science of potato growing or the technology of gas pump operation for $20 grand.

  The monopolized education system is by now as much of a problem as the monopolized protection and justice system. In fact, government education and research and development is the central instrument by which the State protects itself from public resistance. Today, intellectuals are as important or even more so, from the point of view of the government, for the preservation of the status quo, than are judges, policemen, and soldiers.

  And just as one cannot convert the democratic system from the political top-down, so it also cannot be expected that this conversion will come down from within the established system of public education and public universities. This system cannot be reformed. It is impossible for liberal-libertarians to infiltrate and take over the public education system, as the democrats and socialists could when they replaced the monarchists.

  From the point of view of classical liberalism, the entire system of publicly, or tax-funded education must go, root and branch. And with this conviction, it is obviously impossible for anyone to make a career within these conditions. I will not ever be able to become the president of the university. My views bar me from making a career like this. Now this is not to say that education and intellectuals do not play a role in bringing about a libertarian revolution. To the contrary, as I explained before, everything hinges ultimately on the question of whether or not we will succeed in delegitimizing and exposing as an economic and moral perversity, democracy and the democratic monopoly of justice and protection.

  This is obviously nothing but an ideological battle. But it would be wrongheaded to assume that official academia will be of any help in this endeavor. On the government dole, educators and intellectuals will tend to be statists. Intellectual ammunition and ideological direction and coordination can only come from outside of established academia, from centers of intellectual resistance—from an intellectual counterculture outside and independent of, and in fundamental opposition to the government monopoly of protection as well as of education, such as the Mises Institute.

What Must Be Done - Digital Book

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