Around 120 years ago, Emile Zola accused the French State of hiding the truth in the Dreyfus case. An incident many have referred to as the birth itself of the modern, power-critical intellectual. At that time, as now, ‘intellectual’ was akin to a swear word. Despite this, Norway some years ago established their Value Commission. And also at that time former President of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, was appointed leader of UNESCO’s World commission for ‘ethics and science’ – a commission which will consist of 20 prominent people from scientific, legal, philosophical, cultural and political circles worldwide.
Norway and Island are not alone in invoking reflection. Yeltsin’s former head of staff introduced a similar initiative before Christmas. Sergej Filatov stated that a so-called «congress for the intelligentsia of the Russian Confederation” will, via a constituted General Assembly form a group making up over a thousand wise people who will discuss topics such as ‘Human, Society, Power’, ‘The Culture and Reforms’ plus ‘the intelligentsia and international relations.’ The purpose is to reconstruct the intelligentsia as a societal power and authority, meaning to provide moral supporters for the State in a chaotic Russia.
The philosopher Adorno pointed out that the crisis of modernity is in its lack of reflection and demanded people to reflect on fundamental problems as well as shouldering the blame for the mistakes of time. Jean-Paul Sartre has a similar claim of the universality of the thought and the transparent society. The role of the bare any power relation.
Today’s intellectuals will use agility rather than strength, tolerance instead of truth, and display style over strength.
However, many would today interject that the intelligentsia has played their part. Belief in the universality of organisations which suppress and marginalise – the way for instance The Class Struggle (Klassekampen) newspaper still want us to believe. Power is anonymous, invisible and faceless – the line between attacker and victim is also blurred. Even sense, in its instrumental form is disciplined and is power’s foremost weapon – and criticism loses its counterforce. The intellectual may end up as a fashion phenomenon which speculate in manners of speech and thought, and in ways of dressing. Cultured people who find a value distinction in the time difference between being ahead, avant-garde, faster than others – desiring divergences. Post-modern philosophy, and since that, trans-modern, has to a large degree seen to the end of the traditional role of the intellectual. Today’s academics and intellectuals have since the 1980s gone through a de-politicising and is characterised more by an increasing aesthetisation.
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