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Re: <nettime> New Media and its Discontents
Ian Dickson on Sat, 11 Oct 2003 15:25:16 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> New Media and its Discontents

In message <200310091514.h99FEQE20317 {AT} bbs.thing.net>, monica ross 
<Monica.Ross {AT} ncl.ac.uk> writes
>intellectualism has had a dangerous reputation in the UK since Chartism,
>John Stuart Mill, the Workers Educational Association etc since along with
>" theory " or " political" there is a tendency to use the term as a synonym
>for a left wing or radical, anti-status quo, position. Svetlana's mail
>points out that this tendency is alive and well (Wed, 08 Oct 2003):
Agreed, but as a fellow Brit I'd suggest that it is more subtle.

The concept of intellectualism in the UK carries connotations of caring 
far more about theory than people, (a major flaw when you think about 
how much we Brits distrust theory over pragmatism), AND that they might 
try to practice what the preach. Since it also carries connotations that 
those who consider themselves intellectuals consider themselves better 
than the rest of us it is a short step to dictatorship in which they 
decide what the rest of us shall do.

(Conversely there is also the concept of the intellectual as an 
ineffective windbag, so you can't win either way).

When we want to highlight that someone uses their brain and has 
interesting thoughts we tend to describe them in terms of what they do - 
a writer, a statesman, an historian, a scientist, an artist, a 
politician, a political thinker. Sometimes just "a thinker". In this way 
we are able to respect a persons skill or ability without giving them 
undue credit in fields beyond their ken.

For example Vazlac (sp?) Havel. I suspect in Europe he would be called 
in intellectual. In the UK he was/is called playwright, dissident, 
president, statesman, but never "an intellectual".

ian dickson                                  www.commkit.com
phone +44 (0) 1452 862637                    fax +44 (0) 1452 862670
PO Box 240, Gloucester, GL3 4YE, England

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