On one level, I can appreciate why so many North American conservatives have chosen to turn up their noses at academics. Having spent the majority of my adult life dealing with the so-called 'intelligentsia,' I can confirm that they are, to generalize, an impossible group of garrulous and anorchid weasels. The few scholars who are able to scramble out of the pit of evil that is modern day pragmatism do so only to embrace some trendy political philosophy, typically Kantian or some idealistic derivative thereof, that is so entirely divorced from reality that one is left to wonder whether they can still be said to live on earth.
That said, it would be unwise for the right to abandon the realm of philosophy in protest. As a post at The New Clarion points out, just look at the influence one blue-collar man who has read Austrian economics had on the American election:
Just think: one plumber who has read Mises rocked the Obama campaign for days. If one educated American can have such an effect, imagine what would happen if just 5% of Americans read good economics and good philosophy. The welfare state would be seriously challenged. It might even be over.
The author's point is well taken. If 1.65 million (or approximately 5%) of Canadian citizens had read any decent economics or philosophy before the last Canadian election or even during the coalition crisis, is there any chance whatever that the Conservatives could have failed to secure a significantly stronger mandate?
I wrote in a recent post that I couldn't understand why Keynesianism has remained so popular in Canada despite its thorough refutation and the existence of profoundly more rational alternative economic models. After giving it some thought, however, I have concluded that at least some portion of the blame must be laid at the feet of those individuals who choose to base their opinions on floating abstractions and refuse to ground themselves in reality. That criticism is meant for both the left and the right. In fact, perhaps it should apply most to the alleged defenders of capitalism, particularly those currently involved with the US Republican Party, whose arguments in favour of laissez faire economics consists largely of religious hokum and half-understood snatches of Adam Smith.
The solution to our problem is to promote the pursuit of philosophy, not to abandon academia to our enemies. The solution is to reclaim the realm of the mind from the pragmatists, postmodernists, and idealists, not to allow them victory by default. As a commenter at The New Clarion puts it, all you have to do to save the world is think.