I read a great quote recently, I want to share it with you. I stumbled on it in a December 2009 article in the National Review online(NRO).
“…if moral hypocrisy is saying what values people should live by while failing to follow them yourself, intellectual hypocrisy is believing you are smart enough to run other peoples’ lives when you can barely run your own.”
I submit that we therefore have the most hypocritical set of politicians ever running Washington right now. Now I will not place hypocrisy as a trait of only one party; honestly it is rampant in both parties in both its moral and its intellectual forms. While the conservative element naturally attracts (yes I said naturally) accusations of moral hypocrisy due to their upholding morality more publicly, it does not mean they are not great practitioners of intellectual hypocrisy. Similarly the “thou shalt not judge” attitude of the left does not excuse them from committing actions of moral hypocrisy – tickle fight anyone. The fact remains that both parties in different ways are guilty of both kinds of hypocrisy.
In C.S. Lewis’ fiction work “That Hideous Strength” there is an interchange between characters Mark Studdock and Lord Feverstone. Feverstone is trying to explain to Mark why is was important to align with him and his organization. He says,
“It does really look as if we now had the power to dig ourselves in as a species for a pretty staggering period, to take control of our own destiny. If Science is really given a free hand it can now take over the human race and re-condition it: make man a really efficient animal . . . . . Man has got to take charge of Man. That means, remember, that some men have got to take charge of the rest.”
In this quote I see the reason why intellectual hypocrisy in Washington is in the long run more damaging than moral hypocrisy. My case rests on this one idea – I think pretty highly of my capacity to make correct choices for myself. If a great society requires some men to take charge of the rest of us that means I have to trust the judgment of a bureaucrat or politician more than my own.
While there is certainly high pretension found in the idea that someone else knows better than I do what is good for me it is worse when you consider the inability of those in Washington to run their own lives. In the same NRO article there is this significant fact, “A J. P. Morgan chart… shows that less than 10 percent of President Obama’s cabinet has private-sector experience, the least of any cabinet in a century” The significance simply stated is the people now wanting to run others lives have never run anything else before.
I will only cite one example here, Timothy Geithner, the current secretary of the treasury had one major problem getting confirmed. He often misfiled his taxes. How did we confirm a treasury head who was found short $42,000 short on his taxes? Why do we believe him capable of helping the average American get his taxes right? We don’t.
Here is the other key to this whole idea of intellectual hypocrisy – C.S. Lewis finishes the above interchange between Mark and Feverstone with this other little secret. Says Feverstone, “you and I want to be the people who do the taking charge, not the ones who are taken charge of.” In other words this intellectual hypocrisy is no accident; it is in fact the way it is supposed to be. This is Intellectual hypocrisy, rules are for you and not for me.