i was listening to this earlier today (check out the whole interview, it’s rather insightful), and this particular part has had me thinking for a while. TNC’s assertion that many (politics) writers are ignorant of history, especially given the elite institutions many have attended, should serve as a reminder of how wanting to be a Serious Thinker can be a pretty foolhardy endeavor.
i distinctly recall going with a friend to see Angela Davis speak in Philly and later relating our experience to a mutual friend. this person we spoke to (who we normally held in high regard for her thoughtfulness) was pretty rude and dismissive of any of the points we found intriguing during the lecture itself. what i found most distressing was that this person who was basically shitting on Angela fucking Davis saw herself as taking only the most rigorous classes on the path to being a Thought Leader (she was ann econ major, ftr). i also remember talking to a coworker when i was reading up on the Civil War and having a bit of a disagreement about its causes, which just thinking about it induces a mild headache. he was willing to concede slavery played a role, but that issues like taxes were the main driver. or the time my good friend/old roommate was rather insistent that then-Presidential candidate Obama was half-white, and not (in his own words!!), a black guy. the list goes on.
in all of these cases, each person was striving to be “clear-eyed” about an issue and failed. in the first case, my friend was the kind of person who at the time was of the opinion that capitalism is a perfect system, thus any of Angela Davis’ critiques about the metaphors we use to describe our abilities (“selling” or “marketing” yourself) were clearly ridiculous. in the second, it’s difficult to accept US Senators debating whether black people inferior, much less starting a war over it, so surely there is some other explanation for the outbreak of war. lastly, the President is technically half-white, and so how he personally identifies is irrelevant.
i guess my point is that when TNC rightfully shames his “better-educated” peers, it’s worth keeping in mind this lack of curiosity and unwillingness to to explore topics that are deemed unSerious is the result of people trying to demonstrate just the opposite.