It seems both the right and the left can engage in anti-intellectualism. The right doesn’t like college professors and feels ivory tower liberal elitists want to tell down home people how to live and what to think.
But the USSR under Stalin wasn’t a good place for intellectuals either. Neither was Cambodia under Pol Pot.
Are intellectuals seen as people with tons of book smarts and no common sense? Are they seen as cultural traitors? Is it the fact that higher education and intellectualism can be correlated with rejection of religion or maintaining social tradition? Is it that intellectuals can be influential and as a result turn people against the ruling party and religion?
What is the appeal for kicking out the most competent and educated people from society? Is anti-intellectualism strictly an authoritarian phenomena? I don’t think left or right wing libertarians support anti-intellectualism. However left and right wing authoritarians do.
But China is an authoritarian country, and intellectuals are revered there. In the democratic US many people hold Sarah Palin up as an example of an amazing person in all her anti-intellectual glory.
So authoritarianism alone can’t explain it either. Saddam Hussein wanted to create ‘1,000 PhDs for Iraq’. China realizes education is a key to world power.
What appeal is there to kicking the competent people out of society and handing it over to boobs? According to wikipedia it is religion, populism and authoritarianism.
China is an authoritarian regime (so was Saddam’s Iraq) but I guess both were pragmatic about realizing the need for education to create military, economic and political power. So maybe pragmatism is a good antidote to anti-intellectualism. That seems to be a big reason many people reject Sarah Palin in the US, a pragmatic realization that you cannot run a country with someone like that in charge.
And a pragmatic realization that you cannot compete in the 21st century after you persecute all of the college professors would probably counteract anti-intellectualism.
I’ve also seen anti-intellectualism among some feminists who are fairly liberal and open minded in most other areas. Their motive seemed to be fear that an intellectual investigation into anthropology, biology and evolutionary psychology would justify misogyny.