After WWII there was talk of one world, but the world moved in the opposite direction. Eric Hoffer, longshoreman-philosopher, observed that “Dispersion of power is the only check to power there is.” So, with greater dispersion may come greater unity.
Max Ways (Fortune Magazine, Oct. 1970) noted two underlying super trends, which seem opposite but are complementary:
- The trend toward more individuality, diversity and plurality with more freedom.
- The trend toward increasing inter-dependence of individuals, organizations and nations.
While these invisible trends evolved, the more visible Cold War was resolving itself. Superseding all of this, avant-garde intellectuals steadily advanced the ideas of those turn-of-the-century Euro-prophets. Their ideas finally reached the masses in the 1960s. Acceptance was slowed during the depression 1930s and 1940s, war years. Now, mass acceptance was accelerated because the baby boomers reaching college age were often the first generation of a family to attend college. They were more vulnerable to avant-garde intellectuals without the tempering views of parents who were of the same college generation as the professors.
Thus the 1960s produced a generation of nouveau intellectuals with intelligence such as the world had seldom seen before. All should be glad to benefit from their wisdom in a repeat of the European attitude before WWI.
Paul Johnson explored this era from his British viewpoint. In his book, Intellectuals, he identified many of the intellectuals who led us astray during the past century. He concluded that you cannot trust intellectuals. He also pointed out that in the last 200 years, “secular intellectuals began to replace the old clerisy as guide and mentor of mankind.” This is when the church stopped thinking for itself and adopted whatever was fashionable. The church left thinking to intellectuals—most of whom were atheists. Perhaps it is time for the church and each individual to think again, as the Reformation provided with its “priesthood of the believer.”