Monday, November 08, 2010

Canned Thinking

"The intellectuals are not, as is so often said, men who think: they are people who have adopted the profession of thinking, and who take an aristocratic salary on account of the nobility of this profession."
Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence. (1908)

When Destutt, comte de Tracy (1754 – 1836) formalised and "intellectualised" Ideology , he meant it as a form of thinking akin to bureaucratic systematising for clerks. If one has the process outlined and then rigidified, all anyone need do thereafter is follow the process to the inevitable conclusion, like basic arithmetic, one plus one equals two, no matter what, so long as one follows that process properly. For the clerk, such as below, following the process makes them think they are, (and maybe by this definition it's true that they are,) "intellectuals."

[O]ur nation needs a good dose of liberalism, and all the informed and progressive ideas associated with this great political tradition which has been responsible for most all of our nation's success. Newspapers fell into decline because of an increasingly ignorant population incapable or disinclined to read and now too consumed by entertainment, playing video games and texting to have any desire to be informed or be a part of any civic enterprise. The attack on the idea of government service from the political right has contributed to this decline in our society. The Republicans only use government as a revolving door for their special corporate interests, which ironically to the legions of their working class supporters, has nothing to do with supporting or sustaining them.

It seems more and more that people are fed up with the bureaucratic form of thinking that passes for intellectual, and that more and more, people are seeking intelligence in their political and cultural representatives. Clerks, as is so often the case, are flustered and angry at the encounter with a public causing trouble with the process. The process is perfect; the clerks are intellectuals; therefore the public must be stupid, evil, and so on. Smart people are finding the courage to fight back at long last. I hope for more of that. Intelligent people should trump intellectuals every time. I won't begin to hope for that, but at least for some push-back.

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