Who is an intellectual?
Who is an intellectual? Before answering such a difficult question, first of all, I want to mention how to describe intellectuals as they appear to us in the 19th century and beyond.
According, to Bauman, the word intellectual itself appeared for the first time in public discourse in France, in the year 1898. This term describes certain individuals who posses high class knowledge. Most ‘Intellectuals’ usually believe that it is their right and responsibility and duty to defend thhe most important values which they feel were threatened by the actions of the State.
Nowadays, intellectuals usually are involved in spreading alternative ideas and new symbols that they create. So, I define, intellectual as individuals:
(a) who seek to explain everything in very open ways;
(b) they are able to use their thoughts to transform society;
(c) who are part of the process of mental production.
In this instance it does not matter if we are talking about specific philosopher(s) and scientist(s) or artist(s) and joournalist(s). Perhaps, one could mention such intellectuals as, Michel Faucault, Noam Chomsky, and others who have contributed and influenced “civil society”. They all can be considered mental producers. Thus, intellectuals should explain everything in simple way, I mean, that their id
Side by side with the great majority, exclusively bond slaves to labor, arrises a class freed from directly productive labor, which looks after the general affairs of society: the direction of labor, State business, law, science, art, etc. It is, therefore, the law of division of labor that lies at the basis of the division into classes. But this does not prevent this division into classes from being carried out by means of violence and robbery, trickery and fraud. It does not prevent the ruling class, once having the upper hand, from co
The social apparatus then becomes influencing on the social forces that feed it. The bourgeoisie are feed by the capitalists, and the workers are left to starve. Through oppression of interest and oppression of knowledge the ‘mental production’ is steered through ‘harsh’ interests. Intellectuals are a difficult class to figure out. But, Intellectuals can become part of a movement. As Bourdieu commented in his book titled the Acts of Resistance that, “social scientists, might be for part of our research to be useful in the social movement”. Now I will analyze the intellectual from a view of social phenomena’s. I have on my mind the aspect of social activisms. To explain it, I will give you an example. Two years ago or may be even more I have seen a TV broadcast which was shared to answer the question, “Who is an intellectual and what he should do in Lithuania?” and the man who participated in this broadcast told that “it is a really sad position because there were two intellectuals and now they are dead (he had in mi
As a result, usually defectors or persons, who left from Soviet Union understand, that intellectuals are possible reformers or as functionaries of ‘real’ liberty and ‘real’ liberal ideas and exposing the false perpetrators. It may be that they know something that the ‘general society’ does not. History teaches people to know that ‘Terror’ whether today or tomorrow act as mechanisms for ‘total-control’. By ‘total-control’ I can see what Hannah Arendt once said, that, “the whole of life was thoroughly and systematically organized with a view to the greatest possible torment.”
It may even remind us of conditions even visible now! The realities are that not so well known “elite” newspapers or journals have usually not written “how dark our society is”, “how quickly society capitulates for populism” As a example that was given by Dragovic that, “Intellectuals, when they are mentioned, are treated only as
Intellectuals should not try to organize public discussions with common peoples about democracy due to their lack of education and understanding. They should be left in the dark! Better no help than any help at all! It will remind people of Marx’s, Lenin, and Moa simply supporting such movements without complete awareness like the Bolsheviks were able to do so easily. I would argue that even reformed Marxism had problems, like Taras discussed that, “.revisionist Marxism was neither as insurrectionary and “counterrevolutionary” as then-communist rulers made out, nor was it particularly successful in bringing about political change.” So, now, it becomes more understandable why well known newspapers journalist or TV program steward do not want to discuss with intellectuals fearing their occupation. I also want to take as an example what kind of system is used before presidential elections.
When famous professor says: “if you vote for X candidate or Y candidate, then will prevail Russian type oligarchy and etc. The language used by the academic citizen is difficult for the common people to understand. But when a person who is responsible for president promotion tells to citizens: “We deserve to live better!”, “It will be order (discipline)!” if you elect me. Such ‘slogans’ are easily spoon – fed to the public and the low educated masses. Here I agree with Havel ideas, which were mention in Ash article “Prague: Intellectuals and Politicians” that:
There is a fundamental difference between an intellectual speech and a political speech, between the way intellectuals use words and the way politicians do.
By saying this, Havel and Ash had in mind, that politicians work is only half of the time under truth. In this way we need to change discourse, to talk in simpler ways for common people to understand us. The way how Popper thinks is, that “politics have to look out for these mistakes, to find them, to bring them into the open, to analyze them, and to learn from them, this is what a scientific politician as well as a political scientist must do.“
Another way how we can know who is an intellectual could be explained in this way. First of all, I will divide people in three groups: “them”, “we” and “others”. Then I will be talking about “them”, I have on mind special people who reach to control the rest left and they use as a product to get a power. “We”, intellectuals are in the middle and we can not forget that finally everything depends on us.
So, it is very important that we have to keep going and do not become similar as “they’. “We” have to be able to recognize “them”, do not be tricked by them because intellectual might be able to be one of us. Nowadays, intellectual can not recognize “them” because “they” are able to change their image. But “they” always stay “they.” It is obviously, that for them is useful to graft us, because then we will give them another name and identity. So, “we”, as intellectual have to be very strong. Our business is to support each other against “them”, and do not let us to be submissive by “them”. There by we could critique “others”. They do not need posse’s power. They want us to be the weak element.
Summarizing I can say, that there is no one concept which will explain it, describe or characterized all, “who intellectual is?” Throughout the centuries the criterions have been changing. Each member of society will describe intellectuals in another way according to their views. The way how I understand the term, “who is an intellectual?” I can underline, that intellectual is a man or woman who creates ideas and is living within them. As I have mentioned that behind intellectuals are other “men” who try to stop intellectual’s creating and developing of their own ideas, to avoid intellectuals to become involved in politics. Also intellectuals should prefer including morals rather than being in politics for the ‘money’, because if intellectuals are involved in politics than they will be two – faced men, who will have to talk only half of the truth.
Ash, Timothy Garton “Prague: Intellectuals & Politicians,” The New York Review, 12 January 1995.
Bauman, Zigmund Intellctuals in the Postmodern World Life in Fragment: Essays in Postmodern Morality, (London: Sage, 1995).
Bourdieu, Pierre “Social Scientists, Economic Science and the Social Movement,” Acts of Resistance, (New York: New Press, 1998).
Dragovic-Soso, Jasna: “Saviours of the Nation: Serbia’s Intellectual Opposition and the Revival of Nationalism”, (London: Hurst & Company, 2002).
Engels, Friedrich Socialism: Utopian and Scientific http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1880/soc-utop/index.htm
Foucault, Michel (1994)” Truth and Power: Letter to Certain Leaders of the Left,” in The Essential works of Foucault, 1954-1984, vol 3: Power (London: Penguin).
Havel, Vaclav The Power of the Powerless, (London: M.E. Sharpe, 1985).
Popper, Karl The Poverty of Historicism, (Routledge, 1961).
Saxonberg, Steven & Mark Thompson Mark R. Thompson, “Opposition and Dissidence in Transitions and Non-Transitions from Communism — A Comparison of Eastern Europe to Asia and Cuba,” in Detlef Pollack and Jan Wielgohs, eds., Opposition and Dissidentce in the State Socialist Countries of Eastern Europe.
Taras, Raymond “The ‘Meltdown’ of Marxism in the Soviet Bloc,” pp. 3-18 in Ramond Taras ed., The Road to Disillusion: From Critical Marxism to Postcommunism in Eastern Europe, (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1992).