The Sophisticated Mob

The older I get the more I muse political misnomers. For the sake of this discussion “political” describes principles of civil government. A misnomer refers to the erroneous name of a person or concept.  For instance the title of this blog, The Sophisticated Mob, is not a political misnomer. It is a very accurate description of the postmodern political machine in the United (actually un-united) States.  A truth-speaking democracy is a political misnomer in the postmodern western culture. The word “democracy” derives from two Greek words, “demos” (people) and “kratos” (rule); therefore, the people rule. When the people become unruly, they become a mob. I have a book by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, a German historian and philosopher, who immigrated to the United States before World War II. Although a brilliant scholar, he wrote to the souls of real people. His remark relative to democracy is worth musing.

All the masks of democracy cannot conceal the divine character of all speech. You listen to me not because I am better or superior, but because the superior, higher, sublime, may perhaps reach you through me. The man who speaks “is” not higher, but he stands higher. A society in which nobody stands higher than anybody else is a mob. 10,000 people in one place without a platform from which a speaker can make himself heard or a principle can be established is a pitiful collection of earthly dirt. (The Origin of Speech, by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, page 101)

The question may arise, “how did the mob become sophisticated?” The words sophism, sophistry, and sophisticated can be traced back to the Greek word, Sophia. The English word “wisdom” is derived from the Greek word Sophia. In early Greek philosophy sophistry was a school of thought that taught students the art of using clever false arguments to persuade the democracy to follow their false teaching. The postmodern culture ought to pay attention to the words of Clement of Alexandria.

The art of sophistry, which the Greeks cultivated, is a fantastic power, which makes false opinions like true by means of words. For it produces rhetoric in order to persuasion, and disputation for wrangling. These arts, therefore, if not conjoined with philosophy, will be injurious to everyone. For Plato openly called sophistry “an evil art.” And Aristotle, following him, demonstrates it to be a dishonest art, which abstracts in a specious manner the whole business of wisdom, and professes a wisdom which it has not studied.  (Stromata, Clement of Alexandria, book 1, chapter 8)

The sophisticated mob is the anti-intellectual majority. Logic and rational inquiry has been replaced with human experience or at least the perception of reality. The conflict leads to skepticism and ultimately the rejection of absolute truth. The first question for Christians is: Will the church engage in reformation in the church so the church will have influence with the sophisticated mob.

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