Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Intellectuals? You Should Give a Shit!

Charlotte Street is onto something with his latest post. Following up on this post on Lenin:

"The intellectuals, the lackeys of capital, who think they're the brains of the nation. In fact they're not its brains, they're its shit."

(Lenin, Letter to Gorky, Sptember 15th, 1919.)

Just to be clear, I do regard Lenin's comment as having intellectual - and not merely scatalogical - content. The point, presumably, is that intellectuals entertain the illusion that they are in the engine room of society (and that ideas precede and determine social organisation). The truth is that they are (more often) a kind of inessential by-product, spontaneously secreted, as it were, by the social machinery, but misrecognising themselves as the very fuel by which it runs.

Charlotte Street adds some new ruminations on the nature of commofity fetishism, and suggests that

When, for example, some investment banker writes a verbose blog rationalizing the profit system he is, in a very precise sense, talking shit.

Who could he be referring to?