In a way, the greatest threat to civilization isn’t leftism, although leftism and Communism/fascism are the means of our present destruction. The greatest threat to civilization and freedom is lack of independent thinking.
If independent, rational thinking were more commonplace, leftism wouldn’t stand a chance. Nor would any form of irrational, self-contradictory, life-suffocating group-think.
I have known for decades that independent, rational thinking is a problem in our culture. I had no idea how widespread and deep this problem went, until the years 2020 and 2021. We don’t have a self-esteem crisis on our hands; it’s more like a self-esteem catastrophe. The great majority of us, even in America of all places, appear to be putty in the hands of the most inept, morally corrupt and intellectually decrepit rulers ever to present themselves in human history.
Independent thinking could have prevented 80 percent of this, and by mid-2021 we would have been well beyond the worst of it. Unfortunately, independent thinking is in amazingly short supply — and I say “amazingly” because we live in the age of information, where the vast majority have more information at their fingertips (even with free speech waning) than human beings have ever enjoyed in all of history.
An independent thinker is the type of person who does NOT do the following: Look at what everyone else seems to be doing, saying or thinking; and then doing, thinking or saying it.
An independent thinker looks at what’s true. He assumes there’s truth, and he takes responsibility for trying to figure it out. An independent thinker puts facts at the forefront, and always does his own thinking. Even when he defers to an expert, he THINKS about what makes that person an expert, and why that person deserves trust. He never depends solely on experts. He views experts (if worthy of the title) as means to the end of his own thinking.
An independent thinker does NOT look at the “expert” that “everyone else” seems to view as an expert, and then take it from there. An independent thinker makes assessments of who deserves to be considered an expert, and why. “Consider the source” is a statement you don’t hear much of these days, although it’s a profoundly wise one.
To most people, being an independent thinker sounds like too much work. It seems easier, and even more rational, and efficient, to look at others and say, “Well, this seems to be good enough for most people. So why not for me?”
However, when a dependent thinker does this, he’s relying on thousands or millions of people who are doing the exact same thing as he’s doing. “Everyone else wears a mask. Everyone else gets an experimental vaccine drug. Everyone else [fill-in-the-blank-here]. So I will too.” Or: “Nobody else seems to object to huge tax rates. Nobody else seems to object to vaccine passports. Nobody else seems to object to the rounding up of people and taking them away to government reeducation camps. So it can’t be THAT bad.”
The problem is that “everyone else” is ALSO thinking, “Well, everyone else is doing it. Everyone else seems to think it’s OK.” If “everyone else” is the standard, then what kind of standard do you have?
You’ve heard the phrase: the blind leading the blind. That’s literally how you get Nazi Germany. Or the anti-scientific, religiously enslaved Middle Ages (or Iran and Afghanistan today). Or the Western World today, where seven-year-olds are wearing masks at school, permanently into the future, and where they learn at those schools (as most of their parents did) how NOT to think independently.
It’s heartbreaking to experience, witness and endure the collapse of a once great civilization.
But to me, at least, it’s so easy to understand why it’s all happening. And why it’s so utterly, and tragically, unnecessary.
Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason