This is what I’ve been trying to put my finger on: cognitive misers
In a democracy, the intellectual “center of gravity” drifts from a society’s best and brightest and, instead, finds its home amongst in the mind of the cognitive miser, who forms the bulk of humanity. The net effect is that there is an inevitable “prole drift’, not only of political debate, but of culture and morals, everything eventually gets vetted by the people (within their cognitive limitations) But there is another factor that needs to be considered here, namely economic democracy, i.e the free market. In a free democracy, cognitive misers do not just exert their malign effect through political power, but through economic power as well. Elitist activities–activities which represent the high point of civilisation– such as opera, classical music and and art, esoteric academic disciplines, and libraries struggle to survive economically in a market where the proles do not appreciate their intrinsic worth. The is not an argument against the free market, but an argument against the notion that everything has to pay for itself, it’s this latter notion that ensures that prole economies of scale overwhelm everything which eludes their comprehension.
I’m so stealing this.
The only thing I’d like to see added — and I’m going to grab the book to see if it’s already there — is a term for, and analysis of, cognitive misers who fancy themselves intellectuals and behave accordingly (i.e. all American liberals).