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Please, No More Intellectual World Fixers. Enough Already.


BrexitThis site is (for the most part) a politics-free zone.

These days I try to avoid political talk because experience and maturity have taught me that it accomplishes nothing other than getting people upset over things that they have no control over.

And the sad fact is many people just simply cannot handle different opinions.

It’s astounding that people will ‘disavow’ or declare war on you just because you prefer chocolate and they prefer strawberry.

Of course, I have broken my no-politics rule once before here (in my controversial post about the political nature of Esperanto and why I refuse to learn it). It hurt a few feelings.

I’ve decided to do it again today regarding some of the reactions I’ve seen to Brexit (Britain’s decision to leave the EU). My social media feeds are littered with comments from people who are either a) jubilant, b) enraged, c) near-suicidal or d) wondering what the fuss is all about.

Search #Brexit, #Remain, #Leave or #LondonStays on social media if you’ve not been paying attention to the hysteria.

In truth, Brexit was a remarkable demonstration of functioning democracy against the odds where a majority of Brits rejected foreign rule through a simple binary vote.

It’s historically unprecedented.

For some in Europe (and a lot of the media) Brexit is made to look like the world is on fire but for the majority of others (and certainly for many outside Europe), the reaction is much more positive.

Independence.

Ask people outside Europe what they think of Britain regaining independence from Brussels (or any country regaining independence – period) and the reaction is typically:

“That’s wonderful. Good for them.”

It seems that in every part of the world except Europe, independence is cause to bust out fireworks and raise a glass.

But European millenials have been raised and conditioned to see anything that opposes bloated federalism through a lens of fear. Their logic just doesn’t make sense: freedom, less corrupt government controlling their lives and lower taxes are somehow the same as (or will lead to) a 1940’s-style tyranny.

It’s beyond absurd and pure hysteria.

Now, I have actually heard some suggest that we in Australia, America and elsewhere see it all differently because the media doesn’t portray the full truth of the situation internationally.

I disagree strongly and take offence to that. That implies that people are incapable of looking at the facts themselves and making up their own minds.

The truth is we see it differently because we were raised differently to most European millenials.

We were raised better. [cue outrage]

It’s hard not to notice the flood of ageist and classist diatribe against tens of millions of people (certainly not a fringe group!). For me, the issue is not about the pros and cons of #Leave and #Remain, but rather about attitude.

That’s why I’m writing this today.

Frankly, it makes very little difference to me as an outsider whether the EU exists or not (European countries, languages and cultures will be still there regardless and it won’t affect my travel plans). The world economy will briefly dip with uncertainty and then rise again.

What bothers me is the repulsive classism I’ve seen so much of lately and during my travels.

I define ‘classism’ here as intellectual elitists looking down their noses at ordinary people (who don’t have to necessarily be working class).

I don’t even like to use the word ‘classism’ but it seems to be the best way to describe it.

People who are always the most vocal about standing up for oppressed minorities also tend to be the most vitriolic and nasty when talking about the “uneducated”, those they disagree with and even at times the elderly.

They rail against “hate” but if you disagree with them, they’ll hate you with the force of a thousand suns and insult you on every level.

I see so many spoilt, adult children raised in and poisoned by a toxic culture of entitlement go out of their way to insult ordinary people who according to them aren’t smart enough to make decisions. They believe that the world would be much better off if there were more intellectuals pressing the buttons.

Good grief.

Intellectuals + power = always an unmitigated disaster (here’s a great read for you).

If I’m completely honest, one of the main reasons why I have less and less to do with Europe these days as far as languages go is not because I’m not interested in European languages (I very much am) but rather I simply cannot stomach European politics, ambition-killing entitlement mentality and what it’s done to so many EU millenials’ attitudes.

And many of my friends in Europe agree.

 

The same intellectual snobbery causes problems everywhere in the world

I once talked about my severe disdain for Western “enlighteners” who try to impose their notion of progress on other countries and cultures.

To quote myself:

“One thing I see all the time in just about every country I visit are the Western bleeding hearts who see it as their duty to enlighten the rest of world of what they believe to be the truth.”

In just about every part of the world I’ve lived in, I’ve seen the same pattern of ‘holier-than-thou’ snobbery time and time again. A few recent examples I’ve encountered:

  • ESL teachers in Korea who lecture Koreans on xenophobia (while demonstrating outrageous, racist and culturally insensitive behavior toward Koreans themselves).
  • Volunteers in the Republic of Georgia who bring their uninvited enlightenment to Georgian women in order to educate them on the evils of their patriarchal society (exhibiting insult after insult toward Georgia’s ancient culture and traditions).
  • Humanities graduates who go to Egypt, Jordan and Palestine and lecture people on Arab-Israeli politics (because in their mind, their BA equipped them to solve the Israeli-Palestinian situation and restore peace to the Mid East – finally!).
  • Western university graduates who go to Russia and think that their toilet paper diploma in Russian literature or whatever has equipped them to improve Russia’s socio-political problems.

Who are you to say that your intellectualism has made you better than everyone else?

These people are what I call the 21st century equivalent to missionary zealots centuries ago who believe their mission is to carry their intellectual enlightenment to the ‘primitives’ of the world.

They’re the most culturally ignorant and downright irritating people on the face of the planet, full of head knowledge (zero original thoughts though!) and obsessed with propagating their ideas and theories to the world’s masses.

They treat people from all these cultures as though they aren’t smart enough to succeed on their own. Intellectual ideas can solve all their problems and make their societies what they should be.

They were never invited and they’re certainly never appreciated for inviting themselves.

So getting back to Brexit…

I see so much of the same arrogant, intellectual classism.

I made the mistake a few days ago of chiming in on a tantrum by ‘Britain’s most multilingual student‘ and his followers that really exemplified my point. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even pay attention to it but since he’s been the most vocal (tantrum-throwing) Internet polyglot railing against those who are ‘not intellectual enough’, I saw it as worth responding to.

Yes, I totally understand that some people are upset.

I get upset too when I vote for the losing side in politics. It happens to everyone at some point in their lives and you just accept it as “the people have spoken” and move on.

But many EU millenials are so conditioned by entitlement fever and an intellectual superiority complex that they don’t seem to be able to grasp that no means NO.

So they go on tirades about how the peasants are “anti-intellectual” and insinuate that people who are intellectual can fix the world’s problems (I’m still trying to find a single example in history where this has actually been the case).

It’s just plain wrong and insulting.

People who not only think they know better than everyone else, but also deserve power and the decision-making monopoly because they know better than the plebs (ordinary folk). On the contrary, the plebs collectively know far more about the real issues than any of the out-of-touch intellectuals do (again, I highly recommend this book on the topic).

That’s exactly why anti-Brexiters have, among other things, been talking about holding a 2nd referendum so they can get the right answer – similar to the way the Irish were forced to vote twice in 2008 on the Lisbon treaty (as well as the way the French and Dutch were treated).

The excuse was and is always the same:

You people are uneducated and not intellectual enough to vote or make decisions, and since you can’t vote properly, we’re going to do this again and again and again until your perspective lines up with our perspective.

How about you just get rid of democracy altogether and save yourself some time?

The sooner people realize that it’s the intellectual ‘world fixers’ who are causing most of the world’s problems in the first place, the better.

 

Now that that’s off my chest… Back to languages… 🙂

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  1. Mi neniam ĉesas miriĝi kiam mi aŭdas la vortojn de la “rektaj uloj” kiuj
    ofte diras ke ili tre volas la liberon en la mondo sed ne volas permesi kontraŭopiniojn de aliaj homoj.

    I never cease to be amazed at how intolerant certain people are who tell the world how tolerant and peace loving they are, when confronted with the fact that others disagree with them.

    One of these peace loving Londoners was interviewed by an American media outlet and when he heard the result of the Brexit vote said, Did anyone here vote for it? If so, tell me now so I can punch you.

    As one teacher, Byron Katie, once said:
    If you want to really experience war, go to a peace rally.

    Reply
    1. True. Well I’ve seen quite a few videos of the #LondonStays/#Remain protesters with masked Antifa criminals intimidating passersby.

      To be fair though, thugs exist on all sides but it seems that only some of them are stopped by police while others can commit brazen crimes and are left alone.

      Reply
  2. I’m an anticapitalist but I totally agree with you on the classist attitudes parts of the Left show towards right-wing voters. I also think that it’s silly to go for another referendum; it’s better to work on the best deal possible with the EU.

    You must admit though that the UK already -was- independent though, whether or not you find its EU membership positive or not. There’s also something to be said about the anti-immigrant sentiment that’s been whipped up by certain elements of the Leave campaign, as xenophobic attacks have been on the rise since the referendum was held.

    That’s not to say there’s no case to be made agains the EU (there certainly is and although I’m broadly in favour of it I think it needs to change a lot), but the case that -was- made was quite weak, and I think that’s what some of the pro-Remain anger is directed at.

    Reply
    1. Thanks Saim. I was just now having a conversation about the ‘anti-immigrant’ sentiment with someone else. My thoughts:

      I personally think the EU and its policies have led to a much bigger increase in racism and xenophobia because when people feel like they’re not being heard, they take matters into their own hands.

      So instead of having sensible debates where everybody has a say, you get all these Europeans who get labelled ‘xenophobes’ when they voice their concerns, which means they get angry and feel powerless which leads them to take to the streets and react.

      I’m not justifying it or taking sides but I think you’ll find by giving a voice to the ‘other side’, you’ll actually decrease hostility overall.

      Reply
      1. I’m sorry Donovan but people who hurl racist abuse at strangers on the street are just racists. They are not disgruntled everymen who’ve been told by the EU that they can’t voice their opinion. They are not a “side” in the debate. Racism and hate crimes existed in the UK throughout the entirety of the 20th century, it’s not something that’s been invented by the EU, it’s just that the minority of outright racists have been emboldened by the Leave campaign. That’s not to say most people in the Leave campaign support this kind of racism, far from it, but the Leave campaign didn’t do enough to distance itself from these extreme nationalists and even stoked the flames quite a bit (cue UK leader Nigel Farage standing in front of a mass of scary brown people on a Leave campaign poster).

        If you call an English person of Punjabi or Bengali background “paki scum”, you are a racist. If you ask English children with Polish parents why they haven’t left yet, you are a racist. If you call an English person of Jamaican or Twi background a nigger, you are a racist. These are all things that have happened after the referendum, and the mainstream of the British Eurosceptic movement needs to publically denounce this for British society to stay intact.

        Reply
  3. I am a Leave voter (although I was actually in China during the vote so used my postal vote). Everyone here in China seemed happy for us Brits!

    Unfortunately my family (all Leave voters) can no longer express that political view either in person or (even worse) online. Being from Cambridgeshire, they told me the abuse is much worse online (I presume they mean on Facebook).

    I have never agreed with the European Union – ironically since having to learn deeply about it’s structures and history during my degree! – and think that it’s end goal (federal union) is unachievable.

    Furthermore whilst I am proud of being British, and being ‘part of the world’ I don’t really see much point in the idea of Europe – except it being a geographical area. Where does Europe truly start and finish, for example?

    Your examples from Korea, Georgia, Russia and Jordan sound similar to certain stories I have heard here in China. There is a view that some Westerners look down on people. It doesn’t help that for some bizarre reason things that are Western are instantly considered cool and superior over here (from interior design to the English language).

    I am glad we have left, and I am sure we won’t be the last to join the little (but growing!) group of Norway, Switzerland and Iceland!!! 😀

    Great blog and website by the way.

    Reply
  4. Hi Don (I dare to call you so, accordingly to the Aussie shortening-fetish).

    Your blog is politics-free zone?
    LOL… You don’t mince words bro, your views on this and other subjects have always been more than clear… and this is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you.
    I overall agree with what you wrote about EU, Brexit and non-Westerner views on it.
    However, I think you are a tiny bit unfair to EU Millennials as a whole.
    According to you, EU is a sort of spoilt brat-dominated land, from Spain to Finland, from France to Bulgaria… can you honestly say you know what Italian, or Hungarian, or Danish under-30 think about Brexit? Do you think they were on the verge of suicide because of it?
    For the most part, they don’t give a f… about it, since they have many and more serious problems you seemingly don’t take into account.
    No all European kids are Oxford or Sorbonne material, you know?
    How superficial and conceited is of you to state that “we were raised better”?
    I cannot speak for Australia, but youth-trashing is getting more and more popular in America and even in the strictest country in the world, Singapore (whose educational and sociopolitical setting you may probably agree with).

    You always prided yourself on your brutal honesty and the blunt advice you give, yet this time I feel you merely aligned to an anti-Westerner, anti-Millennial mainstream which is as corny and generalizing as the pro-EU craze.

    I know you speak fluent Italian, so, since it is one of my two native languages, I’d like to teach you a new word: cattivismo. That’s what this post of yours is made of.

    Con la speranza di non aver ferito i tuoi sentimenti 🙂

    Reply
  5. I’m so glad you took the time (and risk) to write this article. I share most of the same sentiments that you express here, and am in awe as to how tyrannical these Anti-Brexiters can be. As soon as the initial vote passed for Brexit, they were already planning a referendum. And should that happen, and Brexit wins again, you better believe they’ll be ready for yet ANOTHER referendum until they finally get their way. If Democracies allow this behavior to happen, then after the 5th referendum when Brexit is defeated, let the pro-Brexit crowd start their OWN referendum to reverse that decision. And why not follow this pattern for every decision that’s Democratically voted on. What criteria do these people follow that makes them agree that it’s time to adhere to a measure that was voted on?

    Reply
  6. I loved your rant! I am a Londonder who has been absolutely disgusted by the wave of hate by people who are supposed to be liberals…..they basically now all hate anyone aged over 40 (as clearly old people are all stupid and racist despite the fact that most young people couldn’t be bothered to vote) . One lovely individual suggested taking away voting rights from anyone they considered too old….yeah that pesky thing called democracy shame about that. Another lovely individual suggested we have a second referendum so that we get the ‘right’ result. Yet another person suggested every single “out” voter is a racist (despite the fact I know several Asians and Blacks who voted out…..). These people all liberals with views that wouldn’t be out of place in dictatorships.

    Reply
  7. Absolutely superb. I’ve never agreed more with someone. Great stuff!

    Reply
  8. I totally agree. The sad fact is many people just simply cannot handle different opinions. Ironically, having watched your video on Esperanto and having learned/used Esperanto myself with many different speakers, I can say you did not show an opinion, but mainly a belief based on prejudices (that’s why your “opinion” hurt feelings and some people didn’t simply ignore that but commented on that) with almost no facts.

    You should first learn distinguishing between Fact, Opinion, Belief, and Prejudice if you really want to give facts and opinions.

    Reply
    1. For goodness sake.

      If someone asks you “why don’t you like X?” and you tell them why you don’t like X, how is that wrong? How am I not entitled to give my thoughts on Esperanto? Stop trying to control speech and thought and accept the fact that you live in a world where not everybody believes the same thing.

      In fact, originally I had a mild dislike of Esperanto for the reasons I gave. I now hate it and its community after all the zealous crap you people keep sending me because you got offended. I’m putting together a new post/podcast on all the hostility I’ve received from Esperantists.

      Reply
      1. Telling people why you don’t like X is not wrong at all, disagreeing with people isn’t bad at all, but since your blog was created to inform people, since you are constantly giving information/reasons presented as if they were facts when they really are prejudices, that is the wrong thing you did, Donovan. And it’s not nice calling people zealots whenever they desagree with you.

        All this happened because you know so little about Esperanto and I hope you are conscient about that, even if you do have a degree on Linguistics you didn’t a great reasearch but you’ve tried to give objective reasons about a topic that is unknown to you. Instead doing a nice research, you’ve been giving false information (prejudices). You can give an opinion, but you are not really entitled to give false info (that’s why your opinion can be called a belief, as someone who says he dislikes snow because it is too warm and people who play with it are zealots that make snowmen they pray to).

        It’s a pity you still don’t seem to have realized insulting a whole community using false information, calling them zealots, etc causes at least 4 forseable reactions you should have expected (but you are surprised instead) on a public video at a educational channel:
        -Agree with you (mainly subscribers who know as little about Esperanto as you do)
        -Ignore your video (compare nº views VS nº commenters)
        -Say you are entitled to dislike Esperanto and its whole community (do you know them all? I don’t), but point out you gave false info (prejudices), directly insulted a bunch of people, and say they disagree, even that your opinion is just a belief cause it is not based on facts.
        -Insult/Attack/Mock you and your opinion as you first did to them (please, hear your podcast again) and to their language (they like it, of course) you are lying about according to their greater insider experience (you lack, since you never used/learned Esperanto) and knowledge they got

        So I bet you’ll go on with your new podcast and stumble again upon the same stone, as the linguist you are supposed to be but who did not study the topic he will be talking again about… a pity compared to imo the wiser Umberto Eco who was able to change his mind after taking a greater look to it.

        Reply
  9. Holy cow! Thank you for articulating something that has bugged me to death for a long, long time.

    Now, for all this while, I’ve been calling it the presumptuous “enlightened” pseudo intellectual US culture (while in reality none of its adherents seem to realize it is so ethnocentric as to fail to acknowledge the existence of other countries as anything but failed places where things have gone horribly wrong and from which refugees and immigrants must “escape” for us to save them). . .

    It is interesting to realize it is Western culture as a whole… I don’t have the time on the ground in Europe to have any way to know this.

    Reply
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