Libido for Power

by Don Boudreaux on November 16, 2008

in History, Myths and Fallacies, Politics

Challenging the myth that society would be improved if governed by “intellectuals,” Thomas Sowell — writing in today’s Washington Times — says that “It would be no feat to fill a big book with all the things on which intellectuals were grossly mistaken, just in the 20th century.”

Such a book has already been filled.  Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims documents the gullibility, the boundless capacity for self-delusion, and the ecstatic fetish for Great Leaders displayed throughout the 20th century by large numbers of American and European intellectuals.  These Smart People cheered the Soviet Union, applauded Mao, drooled over Castro, celebrated the Sandinistas – all the while dismissing those persons suspicious of centralized power as “anti-intellectual.”

Of course, consistently these “anti-intellectuals” were proven right as the heroes of the “intellectuals” were revealed to be blood-thirsty bastards.  Is there reason to suppose that the “intellectuals’” still-raging libido for Great Leaders and Big Plans is today any more rational than it was during the tragic episodes documented by Hollander?

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