by Pedro Blas González (April 2023)
The Deluge, Winifred Knights, 1920
Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind
In 1987 Allan Bloom, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago and translator of Plato’s Republic and Rousseau’s Emile, published The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students, a book that warns us about how relativism devours intelligence.
Relativism, Bloom contends, makes the mind a slave to the demons of cultural, moral, and social-political balkanization. The book was a remarkable success. This is partly owed to Bloom’s calling out the dead-end, ominous road that liberalism would eventually deliver America and other Western democracies. While an academic, Bloom does not obfuscate with academic jargon, a manner of writing that promotes relativism.
Closing the mind to history and tradition, objective values, moral responsibility, and free will does not create a ‘higher consciousness.’ On the contrary, relativism devours its hapless and unsuspecting children. While castrating reason, relativism emboldens primitive passions that man must keep at bay, if democratic institutions and lives worthy of living are ever to become staples of the human condition.
The ‘Keeping an Open Mind’ syndrome
The notion of ‘keeping an open mind’ has been branded a noble idea. Harmless, a spirited way to do business with other people’s values, across a wide spectrum of cultures, etc.
Yet on closer inspection, the realization dawns on thoughtful people that the ‘keep an open mind’ syndrome is itself an ideological cul-de-sac. Albeit one that is rooted in a fashionable, can’t lose agenda of affected altruism.
One obvious way to test this feel-good agenda is to understand that the purveyors of the keep an open mind mentality always apply this notion selectively, remaining consistent with a self-serving motivation fueled by relativism. This is by design.
Keeping an open mind has a massive emotional public relations appeal. We must keep in mind that postmodern dysfunctional life is ruled by blind emotions, never reason and common sense.
Looked at from a purely business model, keeping an open mind is a cash cow. Just follow the smell of the devil of covetousness: mammon. Ideologically speaking, keeping an open mind is infinitely effective in collapsing objective morality and values.
We must remember that the idea of keeping an open mind is the culmination of a social-political program that ultimately leads to censorship and re-education.
A glaring hypocrisy of the open mind notion is that keeping an open mind is never applied to the past.
Why is that?
Acute and cautious exponents of the open mind cult should also warn people that one can keep an mind open, ‘but not so open that your brains fall out.’
The logical implication of being careful to keep our brains from spilling over is the real-world understanding that having an uncritical open mind makes our trusty head no longer ‘have anything in it.’
While on the topic of keeping an open mind, first there was the primal scream “all we want is to be left alone.” More nobility, or so it appears. Being left alone to explore the hedonistic possibilities that the pleasure principle guarantees its exponents in the twentieth century, isn’t that noble?
Others belabor the point that ‘I’m OK—You’re OK.’ Why not? The implication here being that ‘Everyone is OK.’ We’re born into the world; we breathe and walk, and thus, we’re OK.
The proponents of I’m Ok—You’re Ok also assure us that the ‘Kids Are Alright.’ So, leave them to their own devices. Let them be free to reap the carnal pleasures that life owes them. Why not? We already established that Everyone is OK.
If the parents are OK, their offspring must also be OK.
Only moral ogres and repressive school masters would want to interfere with our newly expanded consciousness; our understanding that “love will steer the stars,” and “Mystic crystal revelation and the mind’s true liberation” will bring us eternal peace. No doubt, a better, more loving and compassionate humanity is on the way.
We anxiously await the moment when the new savior, the ‘peace-and-love,’ homo politicus New Man with a higher consciousness delivers us to the mountaintop. Utopia, the Shangri-La of those committed to a higher consciousness, can’t be far off.
Then came shouts of ‘Don’t Judge.’ Not to be outdone by the manual of relativism: ‘Everything is Relative.’
Undoubtedly, such trite and chic banalities, which man can only experience through keeping an open mind, will lead us to the promised land. Milk and honey for all. Utopia unbound!
Few noticed while the barbarians were ramming down the walls. The open mind syndrome keeps us from noticing the tiger at the door.
Today the barbarians rule our hapless world: social-political institutions, culture, education, and the most effective weapon that the keep an open mind barbarians possess, the ability to indoctrinate at will using the corrosive magic wand that is popular culture.
If Marx were around today, or if Marxists were upright, honest people, they would say that popular culture is indeed the ‘opium of the people.’
Rarely are sheep so intelligent or wise to notice the wolves that they attract.
The Western culture road to perdition is paved with the keep an open mind syndrome. Along that road, the totalitarian wolves are licking their chops, biding their time to pounce on the throat of the unsuspecting lamb.
That is the history of Western culture post WWII in a nutshell.
Keeping an open mind is the keynote of liberalism’s deconstruction of human values cartel.
So, you see, sheep are silly, self-defeating creatures. Postmodern man is lambasted by dangerous platitudes.
Calls for ‘World Peace,’ ‘Better Dead than Red,’ ‘Toleration,’ blah, blah, blah … keep coming, flooding the empty heads of the latest generation to be indoctrinated by the denizens of totalitarianism: internationalist globalists.
No animal is as patient as the wolf, and no wolf is as savvy as the totalitarian wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The rediscovery of man—to use the title of a novel by Cordwainer Smith—will be next to impossible after the smoke and rubble of Western culture and democratic institutions has settled in this dark, cultural-moral-spiritual bankrupted age.
Leftist Nihilism: The Effects of ‘Keeping an Open Mind’ Syndrome as Public Policy
Few twentieth century thinkers have understood the sinister ‘open mind’ syndrome better than the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. The work is The Revolt of the Masses. The year is 1930. Ortega was so ahead of the times regarding leftism’s debasement of the human psyche and values that he stressed that ‘mass man’ has nothing to do with the hapless Marxist obscurantist agenda: ‘the masses.’
Mass man, Ortega informs us, is a qualitative determination: “It becomes the common social quality, man as undifferentiated from other men, but as repeating in himself a generic type.”
When Ortega argues that “there are no longer protagonists; there is only the chorus,” he is describing Robert Musil’s ‘man without qualities.’ The core of postmodern mass man is that, en masse, people bend backwards to ‘keep an open mind,’ even when reason, logic, common sense, data, statistics, etc. demand objectivity.
Today the open mind syndrome has finally revealed its sinister, real-world implications: keeping an open mind has the devastating effect of closing off man to the time-proven genius that ‘seeing and hearing’ are essential to man’s self-preservation.
Some key failures of ‘keeping an open mind’ in recent times are warranted:
In the fall of 2019, the North Korean dictator was reported as saying that a-late-in-the-year surprise was coming. Who paid attention? Not the ‘keep an open mind’ leftist/opportunist press. At the time, the American economy under President Trump was a marvel to witness.
With the notable exception of American intelligence services, little did the hate-motivated American media know that a virus, a biological weapon named Covid-19, was already unleashed on the world. What does the ‘keep an open mind’ syndicate say about this now? Coincidence. Nothing more. The open mind syndrome cannot admit mistakes and failures. Leftist indoctrination cannot afford independent thinking.
The leftist mind is so ‘open’ today that it cannot process and organize perceptions gathered from the world—what is otherwise called critical thinking. I am referring to the college ‘educated.’
The open mind syndrome is incapable of knowing the machinations of fifth columnists in getting away with election fraud in America on a national scale. It is also incapable of understanding the money laundering scheme of leftist elites in the Russia-Ukraine war.
Only through the process of generalization is the human mind capable of organizing human experience. By uncovering patterns in perception can conception—thought—originate. Yet this is precisely what the ‘keep an open mind’ syndicate conditions people not to do.
Pedro Blas González is Professor of Philosophy at Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida. He earned his doctoral degree in Philosophy at DePaul University in 1995. Dr. González has published extensively on leading Spanish philosophers, such as Ortega y Gasset and Unamuno. His books have included Unamuno: A Lyrical Essay, Ortega’s ‘Revolt of the Masses’ and the Triumph of the New Man, Fragments: Essays in Subjectivity, Individuality and Autonomy and Human Existence as Radical Reality: Ortega’s Philosophy of Subjectivity. He also published a translation and introduction of José Ortega y Gasset’s last work to appear in English, “Medio siglo de Filosofia” (1951) in Philosophy Today Vol. 42 Issue 2 (Summer 1998).
Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast