Thoughts on David Frum’s AEI Exit

Frum, like many intellectuals, suffered from the desire to gain respect from his fellow intellectuals. But, as Schumpeter noted long ago, the class interest of intellectuals is statism.

Schumpeter’s reasoning in “Can Capitalism Survive?” is rooted in envy. Intellectuals would grow envious of the entrepreneurial class – “If we’re so smart and moral, why are they so rich? – and seek to transform envy into theories of de-legitimization. Racism, sexism, environmental destruction, inequalities, exploitation of the developed world along with other associated Robber Baron style rewritings of history are the narratives they develop.

Since the narratives that inform the citizenry of most policy issues are devised and disseminated by intellectuals, the dominant narratives will be anti-capitalist, anti-business, and especially anti-entrepreneurial. That sets the stage for the growth of the state which creates many well-paying niches for intellectuals – mostly on the left, with a few on the right.

That combination of psychological and economic incentives means that most intellectuals see a large and growing government as key to their class interest.

Even conservative intellectuals seek respect from their fellow intellectuals. Intellectuals – having no obvious product save words and media appearances – are often insecure. Since most intellectuals are statists, the David Frums of the world are drawn into that ideology. AEI is not a statist institution – why they put up with him is unclear.

That point is made clear when one considers his defenders. Anne Applebaum’s “he was right” viewpoint is typical. She would have the Republican party follow the lead of David Cameron of the Tory party, endorsing European values, carbon energy rationing, redistribution policies – the whole non-sustainable welfare, regulatory state.

That would be insane.