Have you ever asked yourself why it is that the vast majority of intellectuals are leftist socialists? If you were ever a conservative in your college years probably asked yourself every day.
First, let’s define intellectuals. The first mistake people make is to assume that intellectuals are defined simply as those who use intellect. Intellectuals find this common mistake to be very useful, as they can simply sit back and say that those who attack or criticize intellectuals are doing no less than criticizing the use of intellect. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Intellectuals are a class of people best described as, those whose occupations deal in the creation and perpetuation of ideas. Amongst this class you would find professors, critics, journalists. Some vocations, including for example engineers and brain surgeons, require a large amount of intellect for what they do, yet we would not consider them amongst the intellectual class.
Now, why are they usually leftists? I find Nobel Prize winning economist FA Hayek’s answer to be the most satisfying. From his book, The Fatal Conceit:
One’s initial surprise at finding that intelligent people tend to be socialists diminishes when one realizes that, of course, intelligent people will tend to overvalue intelligence, and to suppose that we must owe all the advantages and opportunities that our civilization offers to deliberate design rather than to following traditional rules, and likewise to suppose that we can, by exercising out reason, eliminate any remaining undesired features by still more intelligent reflection, and still more appropriate design and ‘rational coordination’ of our undertakings. This leads one to be favourably disposed to the central economic planning and control that lie at the heart of socialism.
Those who have really done the most to spread these ideas…are the so-called ‘intellectuals’ that I have elsewhere unkindly called professional ‘second hand dealers in ideas’: teachers, journalists and ‘media representatives’ who, having absorbed rumours in the corridors of science, appoint themselves as representatives of modern thought, as persons of superior knowledge and moral virtue to any who retain a high regard for traditional values, as persons whose very duty it is to offer new ideas to the public – and who must, in order to make their wares seem novel, deride whatever is conventional. For such people, due to the position in which they find themselves, ‘newness’, or ‘news’, and not the truth, becomes the main value, although that is hardly their intention – and although what they offer is often no more new than it is true.