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The Madness of Intellectuals


ARS Electronica CC

James V. Schall, S.J. - published on 08/12/15

Our culture is gripped by a willful misunderstanding of human nature

“The ‘tremendous’ consequences of marriage, this ‘institution that puzzles intellectuals so much’, is, of course, children, who are, generally speaking, younger than their parents’, a fact that is ‘perceptible even to intellectuals’. For children mean the ‘renewal of the race itself’. And it is only common sense that ‘the only people, who will or can give individual care to each of the individual children, are their individual parents’. But common sense has been cast out of the ‘modern academy of fads and fashions conducted along the individual lines of a luxurious madhouse’.”
—Ian Ker, G. K. Chesterton: A Biography (Oxford 2011), 388.

Many facts are too well–known to need much repetition. Or put negatively and more philosophically, there are things impossible to deny without affirming, what are generally called “first principles” or “truths known by their very statement (per se nota). One of these “facts," as Chesterton amusingly pointed out, is that, “generally speaking," children are "younger than their parents.” That such a fact even needs to be pointed out, as it does, teaches us much about the human mind, especially in those who claim the human mind as their profession. And once children actually exist (from conception), their best caretakers, as particular individuals, are or ought to be (some parents fail or abandon their children) the particular parents of the begotten children. If someone else does or has to substitute for this primary responsibility, it is due to the death or incapacity of parents, to their irresponsibility, or, more dangerously, to state policy that claims primary jurisdiction over lives and deaths of all children.

Not a few theories maintain that some people or institutions other than actual parents should take care of children. Such theories are so disordered that they appear to take place in the intellectual “madhouse” that the modern world has become in its thinking about children. This sense of “madness” was often expressed recently when videos of selling fetal parts from abortions were seen. The blindness of too many intellectuals, judges, scientists, and politicians to the consequences of their own theories of love, family, and children is itself a fertile subject of philosophical investigation. It is also, not surprisingly, a familiar theme in both classical philosophy and Scripture.

The traditional populations of the countries of what was once called “Western Civilization” are dying out, not because of war, pestilence, or poverty, but because men and women are not marrying to have their own children. At least until population-control movements gain more complete political control, children are still being born in various parts of the world. Many of these children are brought or flee to Europe and America to survive and to do the work that the absent Europeans and Americans are not alive to perform.

The world abortion statistics since 1980 tell us that over one billion, three hundred million babies of all sorts have been killed in the womb usually, as in China and India, due to government policy. In American and Europe the law makes possible the same massive elimination of children in the womb by legislated or decreed “human rights." Such “rights” make human life depend not on what it is but on the “choice” not to bring it forth by one or both parents, with the assistance of abortionists. A human child before birth has no evident legal standing, even if, scientifically, it is clearly a human life, Population decline, in turn, instigates population movement.

This population movement, as Aristotle already saw, is almost always a cause of strife and conflict over mixing differing customs, religions, and economics. In both the United States and Europe, we hear talk of “invasions” from Mexico or from Islamic countries. Increased numbers of immigrants, especially if they stubbornly retain their own culture and language, end up by causing separatist movements or a taking over of the dying local regime no longer willing or able to defend or justify itself. Contemporary democratic theory often wants to resolve these recurring conflicts between new peoples and old residents by introducing a public policy of relativism. No one can argue publically that any view is true as it would “offend” someone else.

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