Yesterday’s Tom Woods Letter, which all the influential people receive every weekday. Be one of them.
I want to be fair about this.
I’m sure there are plenty of libertarians who don’t read. I happen to think libertarians are pretty well read in general, but I’ll concede that not all of us thirst for knowledge.
But what has really stuck in my craw over the years is how anti-intellectual the conservative movement has become.
I identified with that movement for a long time. And it could boast some serious thinkers: Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, Frank Meyer, M.E. Bradford, and a great many others.
To see such a distinguished pedigree reduced to juvenile jingoism and trivial commentary on current events is, well, unpleasant.
I bring this up because of something a young TV personality just said. I won’t mention the name; if you’re curious, you can Google the quotation. I don’t want to focus too much on this one individual, because the phenomenon is much broader.
“I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not a reader. I don’t like to read long books. I like to read news. So I couldn’t tell you that there was a book that I read that changed my life. More so, I love to read news and I love to read commentary and I love to watch TV. I love to watch news. I’m a watcher and I’m a writer. A reader in the sense that I like to read news but I have a very short attention span, so sitting down with a book is very difficult for me.”
Now I guess it’s not impossible that someone could acquire a profound understanding of history, economics, or philosophy without doing any reading. But come on now: is it likely?
Of what value could such a person’s commentary be? For a person so intellectually stunted, the news is just a series of contextless events, one after the other. Where do these events stand in relation to the grand scheme of things?
Or: is the Left just a bunch of people who want higher taxes and oppose school vouchers? That’s about what you’d glean from headlines alone.
Now let me anticipate an objection: Woods, you elitist, don’t you know not everyone can be an intellectual?
Sure I do. But then DON’T POSITION YOURSELF AS SOMEONE WHOSE OPINION THE WHOLE COUNTRY SHOULD BREATHLESSLY LISTEN TO.
OK, that’s done.