Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Intellectual Snobbery or Justified Elitism?

Possessing the mandatory Stiff Upper Lip, and following my own advice, I smile serenely when reading some of the comments made about my most recent article, Grow Up Grownups: in it, I advocated a return to using reason rather than emotion when making decisions and to being less 'precious' about having one's feelings hurt. Otherwise, I argued, people become embroiled in complex situations without having any real reason to do so, support causes without knowing anything about them and judge harshly those against whom they have an emotionally-fuelled grudge in general, rather than rightfully targeting the guilty few. What I found most interesting, though, was that I was charged with intellectual snobbery and advised to take a trip into what some call the 'real' world.
I've been in and out of this 'real' world for years, and have worked in numerous places with numerous kinds of people. Some I've liked, others I haven't: such is life. I've always been interested in others' stories; for although I can't learn a great quantity of new facts from many of those I've met, I can certainly learn how their responses to situations differ, and how their experiences have shaped them, of what they want out of life and what matters to them. I also tend to retreat into an academic world because it is the only place in which I feel at home; in which I can use my intellect to the full, develop new theories about the world with likeminded others, and am not obliged to try to think like the 'man on the street'. What intrigues me most is the idea that my world is any less 'real' or valid than the one in which my critics dwell. In my humble opinion, being advised to live in a 'world' in which struggle, strife, discord, discontent, humiliation, failure, high taxes, low wages, ill health, Nanny state and dishonest government are all accepted as the status quo - are almost seen as a grim badge of honour (the sage utterances of 'well, life's hard, isn't it? But there's nothing we can do about it, so we might as well make do' strike no chord with me; I won't subscribe to such fatalism) is to condemn me to misery. A life lived in the quest for the Beautiful, however, one which seeks to learn the mysteries of time and space, the numinous, the inner workings of the human psyche and the origins of everything is to be applauded.
Which is something we don't do in the UK. Intellectuals and academics are viewed with suspicion. A good background and education are seen as excuses for discrimination. Society has dumbed down, the Spin Doctors attempt only to appeal to the middle and backwards slope of the bell curve, and those who think rather than do are ostracised. Which leaves little to aspire to - except, of course, becoming a footballler, X Factor or Big Brother winner, or a footballer's wife.
Socialism has always viewed intellectuals with fear and loathing, because they can swiftly and lethally expose its shortcomings. In socialism's exaggerated form, Communism, it tends to stick the intellectuals on pig farms or their bones down mineshafts and satisfy the lowest common denominators' lust to destroy anything that is different or smacks of superiority. Under NuLab, 50% of the population have been shoehorned into higher education, whether they possess the requisite nous or not: all in the attempt to downgrade university degrees and remove them of their 'special' status.
Such an approach runs sharply contra to evolutionary theory. To make a mockery of higher levels of intelligence which contribute to society's betterment, its potential and its happiness is to destroy future generations' innovations in thought and progress. Our legacy will be their existence: the way in which their world is worked out relies upon what we do today. To dumb down now places ever greater obstacles in the way of personal freedom and individuality. There's nothing to strive for. Moving up to the middle classes through intellectual achievement and endeavour becomes a logistical nightmare as they are, arguably, the class which is most penalised. A culture which celebrates the ignorant, the animalistic at the expense of evolution (and God's) most precious gift, that one single facet that separates us from the rest of the natural world, reason, is a dying culture.
So I, for one, will continue on in my merry way; unashamedly academic to the hilt, and I hope to die in a library surrounded by exquisite examples of erudition. There are many ways to live: and to strive for excellence is, after all, the core purpose of human nature.

9 comments:

  1. Don't change. I like you as you are and your blog as it is.

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  2. Cultural Marxism, Mara, that is what you are up against. The ideology of the Frankfurt School. Critical theory - and the only theory is to criticise, to criticise anything that is ambitious, aspirational, elevated.
    Of course your 'real world' is valid - that is why they want to destroy it.
    I would, I could, write more, but not at my best tonight.

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  3. You've already raised your spirit above the level of the socialist sub-humans.

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  4. All achievement should be recognised but I understand your frustration at the dumbing down of our education system. It's been a gradual process over the past 40 years but the socialists decided to speed it up. Such a tragedy but now a few universities are rebelling, much to my delight.

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  5. I stand rebuked. Although for the benefit of Mrs Raccoon I am neither cultural nor a Marxist, and if she wants a bit of both she should really visit the BBC, they’ll see her alright and then some. She might also consider leaving the crack cocaine alone for five fucking minutes and see somebody about that multiple split personality of hers.

    Interesting though, isn’t it, Mrs Raccoon, that the reason the likes of Horkheimer and Adorno were able to move so seamlessly between Germany and the Ivy League academic playgrounds of the US is precisely because they were part of the same academic elite into which the narcissistic Mara places herself and which she so adores. The reason they were able to so corrupt our political dialogue, even today, is precisely because of the veneration some have for the supposed “reason” of the academic brotherhood. Or is there, perhaps, an academic elite which is good and one which is bad, and if so how, pray, are we mere proles to tell the difference? Reason, perhaps?

    But reason, according to Mara, is reserved to the academic elite, her pseudo-priesthood of like-minded “contributors to society’s betterment“. These are the ones who will debate only amongst themselves, the better to provide out of the nobility and purity of their reason, our tomorrow, today, and who are the only ones capable of interpreting on our behalf, without being fucking asked, mind you, all those weighty and complex matters too important to be left to the mere common folk to decide upon.

    What sanctimonious claptrap.

    It’s not your politics or whatever libertarian instincts you claim to have, but so corrupt, that I object to Mara, it is rather your insufferable arrogance. How dare you treat those who do not qualify for admission to your elite with such contempt. Without the miner digging for coal, or the oilrig worker drilling for gas, or the trawlerman providing food, or the poor bloody soldier putting his life on the line for your freedom, your ivory fucking tower wouldn’t even exist. And you stand on the shoulders of their contribution and sneer. How dare you.

    You boast about the size of your intellect. I say you’re a fucking idiot.

    Mr Cato, as a matter of interest, which side of the dividing line do you see yourself on - the intellectual elite who are the only ones worthy of being listened to, or the plebs out in that dirty, nasty, real world who should really just do as they’re told?

    And what next from you, Mr Odin’s Raven, the gas chamber for those you consider sub-human?

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  6. Ah, glasshopper, yet another identity for you - don't you get confused pet?

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  7. glasshopper. I really don't see myself on either side of any line. I like reading this blog: it's as simple as that.

    Apart from which, who are you to question my motives?

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  8. I was turned away from Big Brother for being too normal.50% of Blighty "going up" yet half of the population are still reading The Sun.Ohm.

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  9. Grasshopper says, "you’re a fucking idiot" thereby confessing that nobody would take him for a serious person. It is not elitism or snobbery that makes sensible people eschew such language; it is recognition that only those who suffer from linguistic deficits are reduced to such vulgarisms.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison