Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Anti-intellectualism. posted by Richard SeymourMark begat Harry who begat Mark . All of which led me to a passage from Julia Kristeva's Intimate Revolt, in which she discusses Roland Barthes:
I wanted to end by discussing the unforgettable essay "Poujade et les intellectuals." But is this necessary? You read specimens of poujadist discourse every day in the press, where you observe that the species is still alive. You know their favourite target: intellectuals. And you know of Barthes's disdain for poujadism of any era and of any political stripe. Philosophically, from the right to the left, the poujadist is essentially an anti-intellectual who attacks intellectuals relentlessly, sadistically. He finds them "empty." This anti-intellectualism is based on "suspicion of language, the reduction of all opposing speech to noise, in conformance with the constant process of petit-bourgeois polemics that consists of unmasking in others an infirmity which one does not see in oneself, charging the adversary with the effects of one's own flaws, calling one's own blindness obscurity, and one's own deafness verbal disordering". In the writings of Poujade, women and foreigners are compared to a pharisaic species in which the poujadist projects his own image and that he pursues in his vexed nationalism, for the poujadist fears that the intellectual will "eye him scornfully", he who is the ground, origin, root and earth, the guardian and the temple. An amalgam of constant suspicion, hate, provincial sentimentalism, "all anti-intellectualism ends in the death of language, that is, the destruction of sociality". By seeking the exception, the poujadist ends up destroying the social link he was supposed to restore. Society begins using it to "check" stirring intellectuals but is blocked and then thwarted by a zeal that was not on the agenda; it ends up ashamed of its poujadists, while at the same time cherishing them in case these intellectuals "eye them scornfully." Barthes was premonitory!