An exception that proves the rule
When I hinted that a girl was too pretty to be a BJP supporter, she lashed out at me, asking whether I expected her to say, “Why, oh, Thank You!”, batting her eyelashes. But, Hindu nationalists are ugly for the same reason porn stars are not the prettiest people in the world. Pornography is a fundamental need of human beings. But, when a girl takes off her clothes in a porn movie, people look down on her. Of course, in societies where the stigma isn’t much, porn stars are not so ugly. A guy I know changed his daughter’s name because her name was the same as that of a porn actress. But, when a pretty Bollywood actress takes her clothes off in a photo shoot, people do not care much. Perhaps the contempt toward porn stars is a matter more of appearance than of substance.
The contempt toward Hindu nationalists, again, is a matter more of appearance than of substance. Like the average Indian, most Indian intellectuals and politicians are a lot closer to Hindu nationalists than they think. But, they don’t have self-knowledge. Virtually everyone is a nationalist. Otherwise, globalization and open borders wouldn’t have been so unpopular, even among the most informed economists and social scientists. Despite everything they’ve read, if the best intellectuals cannot shake off their prejudices, it is obvious that such biases are deep-rooted.
But, when someone openly says that Muslims should be slaughtered, or something along those lines, people balk. That does not sound “nice”. But, what they really believe is not too unlike this. Right wing intellectuals and politicians make a career out of this. But, to make a career out of this, you have to be willing to say this out explicitly, loudly, for everyone to hear. If this is not acceptable, you should insinuate that this is what you believe. People with high IQs—especially when they have high verbal IQs—tend to have a highly nuanced and complex understanding of what is socially acceptable, and what is not. (People with Asperger Syndrome are a notable counterexample.) They keep this to themselves. They wouldn’t choose a career in which people draw attention to their pettiness.
Attractiveness and intelligence are the most reliable indicators of genetic quality. Looks and intelligence are highly correlated because high status men chase pretty girls. People with high verbal IQs, I suspect, will find more attractive partners than people with comparable general intelligence. Women with high verbal IQs are unusually attractive to men because they are more likeable. Men with high verbal IQs are unusually attractive to women for the same reason a successful author is more attractive to women than a wealthier real estate agent. If this is true, it is not surprising that the right wing intellectuals and politicians are ugly.
There are way too many leftists in intellectual professions. So, it is not surprising that they are far more competent than non-leftists. The best leftists are smarter than the best non-leftists because they are chosen from a larger pool. I haven’t read a competent Indian libertarian intellectual—other than me–because there are not many of them. They are chosen from a much smaller pool and are, not surprisingly, mainly, duds.
I’ve noticed that people think liberal intellectuals like Arundhati Roy, Pankaj Mishra, and Paul Krugman write fairly well, but are intellectually blank-cartridges. But, this is nonsense. Language is enormously complex. While it is hard to accept the truth, the truth is often obvious. The best liberal intellectuals cannot see the obvious despite being so intelligent because they are conformists. All the platitudes and pretensions to the contrary notwithstanding, they are wimps.
The prettiest girls are not willing to act in pornographic movies, because it is not hard for a pretty girl to make money without getting naked. Similarly, right wing smarties are not too willing to be intellectuals because they have to choose between living a lie and being marginalized. Most intellectuals are liberal. Intellectuals don’t condemn someone who believes that rich people should be taxed and regulated, or that multinational companies are evil because such prejudices are too deep-rooted. Leftists are cheap, little rascals, but they see themselves as nice people. Even their opponents believe that their “hearts are in the right place”. But, right wing intellectuals and politicians are seen as idiots and rascals. Is it surprising that smart right wing fellows don’t want to be intellectuals or politicians?
Biases of liberals have a good press. Biases of Hindu nationalists have a bad press. But, if bigotry bothers intellectuals so much, shouldn’t it bother them more when people are not honest about themselves?
Post Script: It is not surprising that it is Aakar Patel who made this observation. Aakar Patel is the most objective Indian columnist, though he isn’t very smart.