Americans Are Living Under "Intellectual Martial Law"

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via,

The disgrace of America’s putative intellectual class is nearly complete as it shoves the polity further into dysfunction and toward collapse. These are the people Nassim Taleb refers to as “intellectuals-yet-idiots.” Big questions loom over this dynamic: How did the thinking class of America sink into this slough of thoughtlessness? And why – what is motivating them?

One path to understanding it can be found in this sober essay by Neal Devers, The Overton Bubble, published two years ago on — a friend turned me on to it the other day (dunno how I missed it). The title is a reference to the phenomenon known as the Overton Window. Wikipedia summarizes it:

The Overton Window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept…. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton (1960–2003), a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy….

Devers refines the definition:

The Overton Window is a concept in political sociology referring to the range of acceptable opinions that can be held by respectable people. “Respectable” of course means that the subject can be integrated with polite society. Respectability is a strong precondition on the ability to have open influence in the mainstream.

This raises another question: who exactly is in this corps of “respectable people” who set the parameters of acceptable thought? Primarily, the mainstream media — The New York Times, The WashPo, CNN, etc. — plus the bureaucratic functionaries of the permanent government bureaucracy, a.k.a. the Deep State, who make and execute policy, along with the universities which educate the “respectable people” (the thinking class) into the prevailing dogmas and shibboleths of the day, and finally the think tanks and foundations that pay professional “experts” to retail their ideas.

The Overton Window can be viewed as a mechanism of political control, demonizing anyone who departs from the consensus of respectable thought, and especially if they express their heresies in public speech.

This has consequences.

Deavers explains:

The trouble with the Overton Window as a mechanism of political control, and with politicization of speech and thought in general, is that it causes significant collateral damage on the ability of your society to think clearly.


If some thoughts are unthinkable and unspeakable, and the truth happens in some case to fall outside of polite consensus, then your ruling elite and their society will run into situations they simply can’t handle….


An unwise political elite is one incapable of thinking clearly about their strategic situation, acting in concert, or sticking to a plan….


An insecure political elite is one which has either no sufficient mechanisms of political power short of the politicization of speech and thought, or is faced by such powerful but somehow never decisively powerful enemies that they need to permanently escalate to a state of vigorous politicization of speech and thought. We can compare this state to “intellectual martial law” for its structural similarity to the physical-security equivalent.

We’re now living under that condition of “intellectual martial law.” The consequent degradation of thinking means that the polity can’t construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to it (or devise a plan for what to do about it). This is exactly the point where the Overton Window turns into an Overton Bubble, as described by Devers. The bubble comprises ideas that are assumed to be self-evident (though they actually aren’t) and notions that are potentially destructive of society, even suicidally so.

Here is a partial list of the current dogmas and shibboleths inside today’s Overton Bubble:

  • Russia hacked the election of 2016 (no evidence required).
  • Russia (Vladimir Putin in particular) is bent on destroying the USA.
  • All immigrants, legal or illegal, have equal status before the law.
  • National borders are inconvenient, cruel, and obsolete.
  • Western Civilization is a malign force in human history.
  • Islam is “the religion of peace,” no matter how many massacres of “infidels” are carried out in its name.
  • Men are a negative force in society.
  • White men are especially negative.
  • Brownie points given for behaviors under the rubric LBGTQ.
  • All discussion about race problems and conflicts is necessarily racist.
  • The hijab (head covering worn in public by some Muslim women) is a device of liberation for women.
  • There should be a law against using the wrong personal pronoun for people who consider themselves neither men nor women (recently passed by the Canadian parliament).
  • A unifying common culture is unnecessary in national life (anything goes).
  • Colonizing Mars is a great solution to problems on Earth.

That list defines the general preoccupations of the thinking classes today - to the exclusion of other issues.

Here is an alternative list of matters they are not generally concerned about or interested in:

  • The energy quandary at the heart of our economic malaise.
  • The enormous debt racked up to run society in the absence of affordable energy inputs.
  • The dangerous interventions and manipulation in markets by unelected officials of the Federal Reserve.
  • The extraordinary dysfunction of manipulated financial markets.
  • The fragility of a banking system based on accounting fraud.
  • The dysfunction and fragility of the American suburban living arrangement.
  • The consequences of a catastrophic breakdown in the economy due to the above.
  • The destruction of planetary ecology, threatening the continuation of the human race, and potentially all life.

Now, the question of motive. Why does the thinking class in America embrace ideas that are not necessarily, and surely not self-evidently, truthful, and even self-destructive? Because this class is dangerously insecure and perversely needs to insist on being right about its guiding dogmas and shibboleths at all costs. That is why so much of the behavior emanating from the thinking class amounts to virtue signaling — we are the good people on the side of what’s right, really we are! Of course, virtue signaling is just the new term for self-righteousness. There is also the issue of careerism. So many individuals are making a living at trafficking in, supporting, or executing policy based on these dogmas and shibboleths that they don’t dare depart from the Overton Bubble of permissible, received thought lest they sacrifice their status and incomes.

The thinking classes are also the leaders and foot-soldiers in American institutions. When they are unable or unwilling to think clearly, then you get a breakdown of authority, which leads to a breakdown of legitimacy. That’s exactly where we’re at today in our national politics — our ability to manage the polity.

Read Neal Devers’ excellent article, The Overton Bubble.

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jamesmmu's picture
Georgia Teen’s Death Cover-Up – Horror Endured By Parents – Organs Missing From Body!

bamawatson's picture

well, if subject is Georgia deaths; dig this wetback kills entire illegal wetback welfare freeloader non English speaking illegal greazer family; first they tried to blame it on trump; now stone silence

E-Knight's picture

All immigrants, legal or illegal, have equal status before the law.
National borders are inconvenient, cruel, and obsolete.
Western Civilization is a malign force in human history.
Islam is “the religion of peace,” no matter how many massacres of “infidels” are carried out in its name.
Men are a negative force in society.
White men are especially negative.
Brownie points given for behaviors under the rubric LBGTQ.

^ Good list and of course every knee-jerk liberal defends this stuff without thinking 'is this actually a good thing to be defending?'

bamawatson's picture

and a male sticking his dick up another man's shit-filled asshole is GAY

Blue Balls's picture

Taught at 5 universities or tech schools.  All were intellectually dead.  

Communism, socialism or fascism.  Pick one.  

No liberty allowed.

what happened's picture

The real truth is financial alienment.  If your state has sunshine laws, look up the pensions of your average tenured professor  In my state they hover in the 300,000 range.  State government cannot afford these pensions, so you as a private sector citizen will pay.  They will follow the dictates of the NWO because of the benefits.  It is always follow the money.


Fartboxbuffet's picture

Making chicano militant Whats la raza got to say about this

Fartboxbuffet's picture

Making chicano militant Whats la raza got to say about this

peippe's picture

i don't understand why she's in jail.

iwalkonwater's picture

The whole climate change debate is was a practice run for intellectual martial law.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Don't overthink this.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

cossack55's picture

Of course. I read this as the selling of newspeak to justify the intellectuals standing at the "cool" parties.  The new form of name-dropping.

NumberNone's picture

The elites live in a giant circle-jerk and have no desire to entertain anything that fly-over country has to say.  

gilhgvc's picture

then eliminate the thinking class....

Anteater's picture

It worked for Mao and Pol Pot. Trump can be the final star in that triad.

Pumpkin's picture

The god of this world is Satan.

Crypto-World-Order's picture

What a fucked up world. Thanks Adam and Eve

serotonindumptruck's picture

I try not to sugar-coat my remarks while engaging others in political or social discourse.

Perhaps I enjoy the shocked expressions on people's faces when I speak my mind.

I tried to engage some Jehovah's Witness folks last week on my front porch about the State of Israel and the synonymous version of "goy" or "goyim" and "cattle", as well as the percentage of Jews who occupy the Federal Reserve and Congress.

They couldn't get off of my front porch quickly enough.

I think my opinions may have horrified them.

Drop-Hammer's picture

Hahahahahahahah!!!   Good, the jew awareness is strong in this one.  Our (((intellectual class))) was always monopolized by the Christ-killers who took our judicial system and academia and perverted them to benefit their own purpose/tribe and to be a detriment to da goyim.  Intellect without character is the definition of that which is demonic and evil.  That is a perfect description of the kikes.

E-Knight's picture

The mental paralysis I see on the whole gay/trans movement is insane. They are LITERALLY incapable of understanding why someone might be opposed to their endless overreach. The only goal they see is absolute degeneracy.

techpriest's picture

When the goal is to reduce everyone to a blank slate, even in terms of gender, then mental gymnastics become a requirement.

Cruel Joke's picture

Genderneutrality is part of globalism. When people loose their identity, they are easier to manipulate politically.

tripletail's picture

Mao had a plan for intellectuals. Perhaps, we can tailor it to our needs.

VWAndy's picture

 We should be laughing at the pure stupidity on display. If we just give half of the BS just a tiny bit of honest thought most of it wont stand up to even the most basic intellectual riggor.

  We lost the emails?

 There was no intent?


 The list of pure BS that people actually feast on is just silly. Skittle Shitting Unicorns? Really!?

chrsn's picture

Ironically, the intellectual class is paralyzed at the thought of actually having to coherently defend their conclusions; thus, the outsized importance of insisting that the issue is settled.

TeethVillage88s's picture

putative 1) to be known as something by reputation, 2) Commonly believed or deemed to be the case; accepted by supposition rather than as a result of 3)

polity 1) A polity is any kind of political entity. It is a group of people who are collectively united by a self-reflected cohesive force such as identity, who have a capacity to ...2) something (such as a country or state) that has a government : a politically organized unit — polity in a sentence 3) Polity definition, a particular form or system of government: civil polity; ecclesiastical polity

moorewasthebestbond's picture

Think about it.


The South was right!

jughead's picture

Yes they were...they saw where we were heading if the federal government was allowed to enslave them them as an excuse for pretending to free black slaves who are today only free in the same faux sense that the rest of us are.  Today we are all slaves.  

Anteater's picture

Yet ironically, it's the Southern states that are the greatest Takers of Federal government largesse, especially Arizona, South Carolina and Alabama swimming in the Federal cesspool of Defense contracting $billions. Overall the Blue states are the greatest Givers, and the Red states the greatest Takers, bigly.

IntTheLight's picture

The South has the majority of blacks. Arizona etc has the majority of Mexicans. New England states still are overwhelmingly white with exception of New York and New Jersey.

PiratePiggy's picture

Spoken like a Brit. ;)  I say that because one of my British friends thought that New York and New Jersey were in New England. They are not and never have been. New England only goes as far west and south as Connecticut.   I agree with you comment otherwise and am only calling you out as a friendly FYI.

BTW- Not many blacks north of New England either. That place was once called New France. Even today, they don't speak English very well there. ;) and of course, New York City was once called New Amserdam.


Pernicious Gold Phallusy's picture

The southwestern states are border states, with a high expenditure on border control and drug interdiction. Florida, Texas and Alabama have NASA. Arizona has a military base where extremely expensive education is given to people who fly extremely expensive jets. I'd like to see a chart of Federal social spending (welfare) per state, not total expenditure. Then we could do some comparing.

Yen Cross's picture

 Lets find a cure?

swmnguy's picture

The Elites are willing to allow anyone to talk about anything, as long as the fundamental credibility and viability of the existing system is never questioned.

Farqued Up's picture

The pie is shrinking and intellectualism, while admirable, won't put grits on the table. When the intellectuals wonder why nobody gives a shit about their protected turf they feel threatened as their net self worth is recognizably relatively useless. They put their whole intellectual energy into shit like women's studies (as an example) to find no demand for this hard work. Society can only rob the taxpayers of so much for a limited number of doctorate instructors in the field. They are left with a wasted life, broke, no skills, a pissed off negative attitude that led them into that fake shit to start out. Why, the poor snowflakes don't even have any safe places outside academia. Those will also shrink with time.

Just wait until the greater depression kicks in, the pie becomes very scarce, and watch what happens. The safe space providers may be looking for some pie themselves and that's when the real soul searching begins. Hide and watch, the schools are going to be required to pare down worthless curricula and some people had better readjust their advice for their little progeny to seek careers in skills needed to feed, clothe and shelter us all. Those that adjust quickly will fare better than the deniers for only so many plumbers, electricians, etc. are needed.

That was an excellent article.

ultramaroon's picture

To be an intellectual may be admirable, but the worship of the intellect is contemptible. People like Jonathan Gruber believe that the intellect should be worshipped, and that the intellectual class exists to make decisions for the rest of humanity. About half the human population in the US will shortly be forced to become reacquainted with the principle that one must perform real mental and physical work to make something that will provide a living for one. One may be a surveyor, a data center technician, a logger, a well digger, a software developer, a veterinarian, an auto mechanic, or a carpenter, but indoctrinating others in queer and gender studies or deliberately gaming the welfare system and your friends and relatives are no longer going to be acceptable occupations.

waspwench's picture

The universities cannot survive.   They have become unaffordable for everyone except the rich or the affirmative action students who get a free ride.   Their main problem, however, is that instruction and degrees will be available online.   Do the course work, study your subject, show up and take the exams:  done.   Additionally libtard professors and  the dangerous environment created by the blacks/LGBT/feminists/et al will make many students less than enthusiastice about attending and many parents will simply refuse to pay for what they see as little more than indoctrination.   My kid is going to study bioengineering and has to take courses about white privilege!   No way!   I am not paying for that.

Students will miss the fun and the intellectual stimulus of the university experience but that will not be sufficient to keep these institutions alive.   We will return to the era when only a few privileged and very talented people, who are willing to sacrifice high income in order to study and research various esoteric subjects, will be accepted into the few remaining schools.   It will be knowledge for the sake of knowledge and everyone else will obtain their "union cards" elsewhere.

DOGGONE's picture

Close ...!
I call these deceptions by omission INTELLECTUAL SAVAGERY.

Glyndwr will return's picture

The Overton window is created by people at the margins. The majority at the centre have no such desire for change, so there is a gap.

This is where the pro-change media come in and create themes / narratives and repetition.

Given the gap between private and public narrative, what this then does is drive discussion underground to pubs and bars and BBQ and kitchens .

The blatant narrative does not therefore translate directly to the ballot box. So that is where the next wave comes in, which is law enforcement in the form of PC speech control and safe spaces and relative silence.

That is where we are now.

The current so called window – where immigration is king and you must give up your country – these two will not meet. It will lead to separation. In the UK context it means London becomes a country and the rest is another. That will happen. So the Overton window can and will break.

It has reached its limits already.

Really, the only way is back.


Or, to put it another way, the window has now closed.

Chupacabra-322's picture

These "Groups" are suffering an Identity Crises.

The end result of Marginalization is that eventually Groups turn into Sub Groups which eventually end up Marginalizing each other within themselves rusting in Chaos.

Or better known as Halgaliean Dialect of "Divide & Conquer."

All done by design, all done by agenda.

Streamed live on Nov 28, 2016Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and tenured professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

Joe Rogan Experience

aldol11's picture

Make politicians and journos personally liable when they are maliciously lying

aldol11's picture

Make politicians and journos personally liable when they are maliciously lying

michelp's picture

"That’s exactly where we’re at today in our national politics — our ability to manage the polity."

You mean our INability to manage the polity?

Or am i wrong?


hongdo's picture

"your ruling elite and their society will run into situations they simply can’t handle…."

I've seen this already.  Facts that do not fit in the meme de jour get a "I don't want to hear that." and no articulate response.

I really think some people don't understand they already live in an imaginary virtual reality.  Gonna be tough eating virtual food.



JuiceMan_V's picture

Liberalism is nearly on it's way out, as people are now waking up to the destruction it's causing.


It'll take some time and Trump isn't enough, but you can see the desperation from these folks daily.


armageddon addahere's picture

If you want to be an intellectual, you have to believe the opposite of common sense. After all any uneducated rube can see the obvious. If you want to look educated, brilliant, and sharp as a tack you have to believe a bunch of shit nobody in his right mind would believe. That is how you prove how smart you are.