Wisdom is so boring to the over-educated. So easy to poke fun at anyone voicing the tried and true platitudes. Cynicism and sarcasm are so much more entertaining, novel and diverting. Spend too much time in school and you think the world is composed of a teacher and group of people who want a good grade from that teacher. Your job is to master what the teacher thinks is true while knowing it isn’t. You can really prove your worth by undermining the teacher’s truths with cynicism and sarcasm. If you are really good, you do it slyly so you still get the good grades, but become really popular with your fellow students.
Sometimes the over-educated wander out of the school. They don’t go into manufacturing or science or farming or ecosystem management and try to produce something the world really needs because their main skills are in cynicism and sarcasm. They do know how to toady up to teachers, so they can go into a large government or business bureaucracy, kow-tow to a boss and move up the pyramid. The trouble is that a devotion to sarcasm and cynicism makes it impossible to distinguish between a pyramid with a solid foundation and a pyramid scheme.
The over-educated learn how to poke holes in any argument. If you concentrate on poking holes in all the tried and true wisdom, you eventually don’t have anything left to believe in, including the value of your life, so you might as well commit suicide. Most don’t go quite that far. They still value themselves. And they build their entire world around the value of their selves. Whatever this self wants is what they go after. Most often this self is mainly interested in pleasure, so they go for sugar, caffeine, sex and other drugs. Rarely, the over-educated find themselves able to access strongest pleasure–power over others. Then whatever they do is politics. It’s all about the ability to control others and get them to do what you want them to do.
Once upon a time we had leaders who weren’t quite so over-educated. Their formal knowledge of education was balanced by a tacit knowledge gained through interacting with natural phenomena outside the controlled conditions of academia and laboratory. We had a President who was shot down in the Pacific and spent hours swimming until he was finally rescued.
This President knew he had to attack Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait. He also knew the limits of power and didn’t try to destroy Saddam by invading Iraq. His son wasn’t shot down in the Pacific but avoided such experience by using his father’s connections. So he never gained the tacit knowledge of his father and invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and then really thought he could turn those tribal lands into modern democracies. He failed and now is living out his life painting pretty pictures. Art is one way out for the over-educated. Art celebrates the individual and pleasure. It doesn’t clean up the messes the artist created is his past life.
Cleaning up those messes is left to his successors. If they are also over-educated, they will focus on pleasure and satisfying the other over-educated people in their class. Those people know only the world of school. They are master educators who can convince the gullible while maintaining their cynicism and sarcasm about all the wisdom of the ages. They trust in pleasure and maximizing pleasure for the masses to maintain control over them.
We know what happens to societies which follow this route. They fail to understand natural cycles, natural inclinations because they haven’t experienced such things. They are only educated in the classroom knowledge of how to cynically satisfy the cynically satisfied.
They encounter a Putin versed in a little more practical sort of knowledge and they are nonplused. Fails the cynical classroom knowledge which was so successful with the overeducated and pleasure-seeking.
But it only fails until the people can be diverted. They will forget. There must be some way of changing the conversation to minimum wage or overtime pay or women’s reproductive rights or gay marriage. Why Putin doesn’t believe in gay marriage and he invades other countries! That’s so twentieth century.
He’s obviously on the wrong side of history, they say. And they go back to work reassembling an electoral majority of the overeducated and pleasure-seeking. That vast majority of modern Americans has no practical knowledge of natural phenomena. We can keep getting elected if we just focus on the wants of the overeducated and pleasure-seeking. That’s the way to stay in power. It worked for generations of Romans, just as it worked for generations of urbanites in hundreds of civilizations throughout Asia and the Middle East. Civilizations which disappeared under the sands created by their lack of knowledge of what makes a resilient ecosystem.