Theodore Dalrymple on why intellectuals love totalitarians

At City Journal:

Though Hollander does not claim that there is a single explanation for intellectuals’ attraction to dictatorships such as those of Stalin, Mao, and Castro (or Khomeini, in the case of Foucault), let alone to have found it, he nevertheless believes, in my view plausibly, that the longing for quasi-religious belief in an age when actual religion has largely been rejected is a significant part of the explanation. The totalitarian dictators were not the typical politicians of democratic systems who, whatever their rhetoric, seem mainly to tinker at the edges of human existence, are ready or forced to make grubby compromises with their opponents, reveal themselves to be morally and financially corrupt, are more impressive in opposition than in office, have no overarching ideas for the redemption of humanity, and make no claims to be panjandrums of all human knowledge and wisdom. Rather, those dictators were religious leaders who claimed the power to answer all human questions at once and to lead humanity into a land of perpetual milk, honey, and peace. They were omniscient, omnicompetent, loving, and kind, infinitely concerned for the welfare of their people; yet at the same time they were modest, humble, and supposedly embarrassed by the adulation they received. The intellectuals, then, sought in them not men but messiahs. More.

Reality check: They become illogical at the prospect of power.

See also: The illogic of famous logicians. Millions died while reason took a century-long holiday

  • k2

    They busy themselves undermining the idea of objective truth and values and even the validity of logic and reason, so it is then surprising that they are drawn to those who claim to have certainty? To paraphrase CS Lewis, “those who believe in nothing will believe in anything.”

  • Spatchcocked

    Perhaps they all feared the assassins bullet…..most of us are cowards you know.

  • The Deplorable Rosenmops

    ” the longing for quasi-religious belief in an age when actual religion has largely been rejected”

    Climate change

  • It is often posited that these leftist intellectuals are smarter than the average person.

    Is it a sign of rationality to adhere to a dictator who wipes out the intelligentsia?

    This is why the above supposition can never be taken seriously.

    • Frances

      You are no doubt right, but think of the general respect and almost fawning these “super-intellectuals” receive from the media as well as from the slightly lower but still “intellectual” and university classes.

      • I’m not getting how they are above anyone else, morally, intellectually or otherwise.

        • Frances

          Nor am I, but the MSM trumpets their superiority daily.

  • El Martyachi

    I’m conflicted.