Why is the Right Wing So Anti-Intellectual?

Ashley Lande, writing at Quora, rises to the challenge to take on this common misconception about the Right. Here’s her answer, taken from Quora, a Google company.

Let me ask you a question. Do you have one of those areas of experience you’re knowledgeable in because you’ve known it since you were a child? No education in it, just a lifetime of experience. Ok. Take that thing and now imagine someone with a PhD claiming to be the authority on the subject despite having learned everything about it from a book. No hands on experience at all.

That’s the pseudo-intellectualism conservatives dislike. The people who produce nothing but their own ideas and never have to take responsibility for those ideas. Do you have any idea how many socialist philosophers and sociologists promoted their failed ideas across the world in the 20th century? Those ideas left in their wake a pile of bodies and reduced nations to impoverished, authoritarian dystopias. Some, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, went to socialist countries (Cuba), saw the horror, came back to the west and lied about what they’d seen. Sartre later in life admitted to lying about the situation in Cuba.

I have no problem with people who have a PhD in engineering and teach people engineering. I have no problem with people who have a PhD in math and teach math. I have no problem with people who have a PhD in law and teach and practise law. I have no problem with people who have a PhD in Literature and teach Shakespeare. I have a big problem with people who mistake their PhD for permission to push their political ideology onto young and impressionable students who see them as a figure of authority. I have a big problem with people who lie about failed ideas over and over again so that they can keep their job and gain some sort of prestige. I have a big problem with people who have spent their life in an institution of education and think that they know more about what’s good for working class people than they themselves do.

It isn’t anti-intelligence, it’s anti elitist intellectuals as people. It’s a strong dislike of people who think that because they’re book-smart, they have a right to lecture people on what’s right and wrong while standing atop a mountain of bodies killed by their ideology.

Again, no one cares about some college professor who sticks to what they know and just passes on information to the next generation. The problem is specifically with people, many of whom teach almost useless degrees, on a 6 figure salary, to young people saddled with debt who will have a hard time finding jobs, who think that their PhD or Masters makes them an expert not just in their field but in any field even remotely associated with it. So you’ll see people with a degree in political science simultaneously making bold claims on economics, foreign policy, history and sometimes psychology. I studied political science. Anyone with a Poli/sci degree just doesn’t have enough knowledge to comment on any one of those other subjects in an authoritative way.

No one on the right has any issue with being smart or educated. We have an issue with people who mistake having a high IQ or a good education with being inherently better than the rest of us or who think that because they know X, they can control Y. It’s gone from being smug to being hateful elitism. There’s a view that conservatives are classist elitists. True of some but mostly not. A lot of conservatives recognise that you don’t need to go to an Ivy League school to see common sense.