Criticism of intellectual communities Chomsky

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Criticism of intellectual communities Chomsky

Post by TheocWulf on Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:56 pm

Some intresting points here and a sentiment I support,In my community the Faux-Left love big words to back up there tired dogma and one of the reason the BNP/EDL ect have more clout in my Community/Workplace is the members or supportes of these reactionary organisations are A working class themselves in many cases and B talk to people on there own level and not try useing abit of intellectualism to bamboozle folk one some or all issues.
Enjoy

Chomsky has at times been outspokenly critical of scholars and other public intellectuals; while his views sometimes place him at odds with individuals on particular points, he has also denounced intellectual sub-communities for what he sees as systemic failings. Chomsky sees two broad problems with academic intellectuals generally:

1.They largely function as a distinct class, and so distinguish themselves by using language inaccessible to people outside the academy, with more or less deliberately exclusionary effects. In Chomsky's view there is little reason to believe that academics are more inclined to engage in profound thought than other members of society and that the designation "intellectual" obscures the truth of the intellectual division of labour: "These are funny words actually, I mean being an 'intellectual' has almost nothing to do with working with your mind; these are two different things. My suspicion is that plenty of people in the crafts, auto mechanics and so on, probably do as much or more intellectual work as people in the universities. There are plenty of areas in academia where what's called 'scholarly' work is just clerical work, and I don't think clerical work's more challenging than fixing an automobile engine—in fact, I think the opposite.... So if by 'intellectual' you mean people who are using their minds, then it's all over society" (Understanding Power, p. 96).
2.The corollary of this argument is that the privileges enjoyed by intellectuals make them more ideologised and obedient than the rest of society: "If by 'intellectual' you mean people who are a special class who are in the business of imposing thoughts, and framing ideas for people in power, and telling everyone what they should believe, and so on, well, yeah, that's different. These people are called 'intellectuals'—but they're really more a kind of secular priesthood, whose task is to uphold the doctrinal truths of the society. And the population should be anti-intellectual in that respect, I think that's a healthy reaction" (ibid, p. 96; this statement continues the previous quotation).
Chomsky is elsewhere asked what "theoretical" tools he feels can be produced to provide a strong intellectual basis for challenging hegemonic power, and he replies: "if there is a body of theory, well tested and verified, that applies to the conduct of foreign affairs or the resolution of domestic or international conflict, its existence has been kept a well-guarded secret," despite much "pseudo-scientific posturing." Chomsky's general preference is, therefore, to use plain language in speaking with a non-elite audience.

The American Intellectual climate is the focus of "The Responsibility of Intellectuals," the essay which established Chomsky as one of the leading political philosophers in the second half of the twentieth century. Chomsky's extensive criticisms of a new type of post-WW2 intellectual he saw arising in the United States were the focus of his book American Power and the New Mandarins. There he described what he saw as the betrayal of the duties of an intellectual to challenge received opinion. The "new Mandarins," who he saw as responsible in part for the Vietnam War, were apologists for United States as an imperial power; he wrote that their ideology demonstrated

"the mentality of the colonial civil servant, persuaded of the benevolence of the mother country and the correctness of its vision of world order, and convinced that he understands the true interests of the backward peoples whose welfare he is to administer."

Chomsky has shown cynicism towards the credibility of postmodernism and poststructuralism. In particular he has criticised the Parisian intellectual community; the following disclaimer may be taken as indicative: "I wouldn't say this if I hadn't been explicitly asked for my opinion — and if asked to back it up, I'm going to respond that I don't think it merits the time to do so" (ibid). Chomsky's lack of interest arises from what he sees as a combination of difficult language and limited intellectual or "real world" value, especially in Parisian academe: "Sometimes it gets kind of comical, say in post-modern discourse. Especially around Paris, it has become a comic strip, I mean it's all gibberish ... they try to decode it and see what is the actual meaning behind it, things that you could explain to an eight-year old child. There's nothing there." (Chomsky on Anarchism, pg. 216). This is exacerbated, in his view, by the attention paid to academics by the French press: "in France if you're part of the intellectual elite and you cough, there's a front-page story in Le Monde. That's one of the reasons why French intellectual culture is so farcical — it's like Hollywood" (Understanding Power, pg. 96).

Chomsky made a 1971 appearance on Dutch television with Michel Foucault, the full text of which can be found in Foucault and his Interlocutors, Arnold Davidson (ed.), 1997 (ISBN 0-226-13714-7). Of Foucault, Chomsky wrote that:

... with enough effort, one can extract from his writings some interesting insights and observations, peeling away the framework of obfuscation that is required for respectability in the strange world of intellectuals, which takes on extreme forms in the weird culture of postwar Paris. Foucault is unusual among Paris intellectuals in that at least something is left when one peels this away

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Re: Criticism of intellectual communities Chomsky

Post by Rev Scare on Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:47 pm

The intelligentsia is accurately described (functionally) as a "secular priesthood." The intellectual class provides the (non-religious) ideological support column upon which society conducts itself, which is contrasted with the daily operations of the working class. "Intelligence" is not a relevant component of that realm, and it does not follow from this term that a sphere of "non-intellectuals" (implying lesser intelligence) actually exists outside of a class context. As Chomsky notes, the actual intellectual capacity required to conduct many tasks in academia is no greater than what is required throughout society.

Let us finally establish a society in which all of us possess equal opportunities and are not punished for the limitations imposed by birth, and we may then truly judge the intellectual capabilities of individuals.

Anti-intellectualism is, therefore, not a battle against intelligence, but a struggle against that mentality which would maintain doctrines designed to perpetuate the stratification of society.

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Re: Criticism of intellectual communities Chomsky

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:50 pm

TheocWulf wrote:Some intresting points here and a sentiment I support,In my community the Faux-Left love big words to back up there tired dogma and one of the reason the BNP/EDL ect have more clout in my Community/Workplace is the members or supportes of these reactionary organisations are A working class themselves in many cases and B talk to people on there own level and not try useing abit of intellectualism to bamboozle folk one some or all issues.

For decades the revolutionary left has become isolated from the working-class due to the ridiculous ideas the literati have brought into the movement. It began with the revisionists of the Frankfurt School and continues with radical cosmopolitanism espoused by basically every socialist and communist party in the Global North today.

Michael Albert—who is something of a cosmopolitan himself, albeit a far more rational one (like Chomsky)—has described this issue in some detail in his critique of the contemporary Left. He refers to this as the "stickiness problem." Albert contends (correctly, in my view) that left-wing activists alienate regular working people by (1) frequently using obscure socialist lingo in their writings, which should instead be written appeal to the masses, (2) being patronizing toward working-class culture (e.g., sports, sitcoms, etc.), and (3) being overzealous about doctrinal purity. Chomsky has also discussed how the causes which the (cosmopolitan) Left mobilizes for, e.g., LGBT and illegal immigrant rights, etc., also alienates the working-class.

As for the mainstream intelligentsia, Chomsky described them quite succinctly when he wrote: "The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power."

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Re: Criticism of intellectual communities Chomsky

Post by TheocWulf on Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:16 pm

Chomsky indeed is a great thinker.I look forward to his opinions on the growing occupy movement althoug I think his opinion will be similar to our own.

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Take notice, That England is not a Free People, till the Poor that have no Land, have a free allowance to dig and labour the Commons, and so live as Comfortably as the Landlords that live in their Inclosures. For the People have not laid out their Monies, and shed their Bloud, that their Landlords, the Norman power, should still have its liberty and freedom to rule in Tyranny.-Gerrard Winstanley & 14 others TheTrue Levellers Standard Advanced - April, 1649

Cosmopolitan liberalism is a new ideological smoke screen for class oppression.-Kai Murros
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