A Question on Public Intellectuals and Academic Elitism
Here’s what I said:
Lewis Gordon’s definition of “public intellectuals” is self-serving. He wrote: “public intellectuals seem unable to talk about pressing social issues without performing the equivalent of an academic literature review. Although reasons range from trying to inform their audiences of relevant debates to efforts to demonstrate erudition, that many public intellectuals present their work as the basis for rewards in academe and the entertainment industry suggests influences tantamount to the colonization of intellectuals by the ever-expanding market.”
He also wrote the following: “In an ironic development, the anti-left quickly took advantage of at least one Marxian insight, exemplified well in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged”: Attack the material conditions of the opposition. Right-wing think tanks, bloated with funding, waged war on social policies and institutions that offer safety nets for dissenting and creative left-wing and even centrist intellectuals. As public intellectuals became more academic, they increasingly relied on academic institutions for employment. So, the right hit them where it hurts.”
I have no time to read the whole article, but on the basis of his sloppy definition of the term “public intellectuals” Gordon is referring to people who were able to exert ‘intellectual’ influence on the marketplace of ideas without performing any academic work to support their views or without being part of a so-called sophisticated educational institution so to show a veneer of credibility and academic acceptability. To Gordon, the term ‘intellectual’ is to be determined by one’s college diploma or academic degree or citation. I think that this is one of the crudest ideas invented in the past century when Harvard University and other Ivy League schools in the United States did a great disservice to America.In fact Harvard is out to destroy the United States of America with its leftist professors and liberal and Fabian intellectuals.
With this let me quote a passage from Zygmund Dobbs’ Keynes At Harvard:
No matter what phase of left-wing infiltration we study, be it in government, in information media, in foundations, in labor unions, or whether we deal with Keynesian socialism, neo-Marxian socialism or with Bolshevik communism, the tracks lead inevitably to Harvard University. This does not mean that Harvard has a monopoly of the leftist host. The roots of left-wing ideology have penetrated deep into most of the large universities and colleges of America. However, Harvard has led all the rest in spawning exponents of the three brands of leftism mentioned above. The Harvard Graduate School has flooded the whole academic world with teachers trained in such leftist thinking.
The question arises whether there is something about the nature of Harvard which makes it a generator of leftist thought. The fact is, that Harvard did not adopt the left-wingers, the left-wingers picked Harvard.
The prestige, influence and importance of Harvard University in the life of America automatically made it the target of those who want to subvert society for collectivist purposes. The Harvard liberal policy of allowing free expression of ideas, no matter how extreme, gave conspiratorial groups carte blanche for their activities.
Just think of how the dangerous ideas of bad economist John Maynard Keynes poisoned the minds of most economists today and became an orthodoxy. Leftism and liberalism in the US proliferated because of Harvard and other “sophisticated” schools. Now is this what the so-called academic intellectuals call academic? The intellectuals reject the ideas of good economist Ludwig Von Mises, journalist Henry Hazlitt, and American philosopher Ayn Rand because their views are too good and reality-based. Yes, the elitist intellectuals like Gordon still retain the remnants of the feudal mentality of their intellectual ancestors who lived during the Dark Ages wherein only the moneyed, the aristocrats, and the royalists were able to dominate the era’s intellectual sphere.
The self-claimed intellectuals of today aren’t comfortable with the idea that there are “real” intellectuals like Ayn Rand, Mises, Hazlitt, among others who are now widely accepted by the thinking, rational people. To these elitist intellectuals, “intellectuality” or intellectual recognition must be academic based. But in a free society, only the reality-based views and ideas will flourish. America is the best example of this ideal, while Europe in the past century fell into an intellectual elitist booby-trap.
America is the first society the allowed the proliferation of opinions and views in the marketplace of ideas. And like any product or commodity, it is the the best idea or product that attracts more people. Before Henry Ford became the guy who revolutionized car-making on earth, he was called “crazy” by the doubting people, most of whom were intellectuals, when he was still starting. Nikola Tesla, the man who gave us the 21st century (he discovered wireless technology, alternating current, etc.), was called “lunatic scientist” by the so-called academic intellectuals of his time. The same thing happened to Ayn Rand and Ludwig Von Mises who were despised by the snooty people in the academia, particularly the so-called intellectuals from Harvard University.
It is Harvard that glorified Keynes and popularized Keynesian economics that is responsible for today’s financial crisis and big government. Yet the academics and college-bred intellectuals blame Ayn Rand and free-market capitalism for this this ongoing economic mess. And because it is the so-called academic intellectuals who pronounced this judgment, the people and the stupid media merely took it on faith. Reason? Because these academic intellectuals cannot accept the fact that it’s their stupidity that caused the crisis.
Sad to say, Gordon is trying to revive the medieval, tribal “intellectual” meaning and atmosphere of the Dark Ages.