The Destiny of Professional Intellectuals in US

Isn’t it fair and beautiful when the work of an independent intellectual is well paid for, when not only technical scientists and engineers, militaries, specialists in finance and professional pushers of private interests are considered to deserve a good living but also those who keep and formulate independent truths about life, society and its political process? Isn’t a democratic system unique in agreeing to pay a salary to liberal professors for being truthful – independent in their thinking, not only to the specialists working for governmental or/and private interests who are hooked on a cocktail where truth is mixed/blended with money?

Democracy is an exceptional society which creates a category of independent thinkers including specialists in various branches of culture – history, arts (specialists in cinema, literature, music), social and psychological trends, religious systems, etc. These independent specialists are employed by Universities and are connected with Publishing Houses and the press. The problem here is that the independent specialists are as dependent on their salaries as specialists hired by private companies or by government (who bend the truth according to the financial interests they serve). As the political pressure on population in US intensifies (by the authoritarian efforts of the one-percenters and conservative politicians), independent thinking more and more has to surrender to the expectations of wealthy decision-makers. This bending the truth by the “independent” intellectuals is sometimes takes elegant forms.

Search for independent (critical) truth in humanistic scholarship includes attention to existential frame of reference – analysis of life in society as a necessary context of particular scholarly subjects. But today, specialists in the humanistic disciplines more and more ignore the existential aspects of their scholarly subjects. For them “independent thinking” is more and more “formal” thinking. They fuse independence (of their thinking) from particular ideological and political obsessions with independence (of thinking) from its existential context. Their positions/salaries made them not only afraid of serving progressive goals but also forget that life in society is an ultimate container of humanistic sciences. For them independent thinking became equal to sterile thinking which concentrates exclusively on formal analysis of larger socio-cultural phenomena and works of art. They don’t differentiate between having certain political agenda and pushing it under the mask of scholarly work (prerogative of conservative “thinkers”) and being interested in cultural trends and works of art as naturally impregnated by people’s existential concerns which includes ideological and even political tastes and emotions.

The academia faculty or media pundits with democratic sensibility are becoming dependent on their so called independence from life (that in its not repressed condition always includes some conflictual energies). With the water of tendentious partiality they are throwing away the “baby” of critical thinking without which social life becomes a totalitarian artifact, a one-dimensional construction. It is a part of the basic definition of democracy as the opposite of totalitarianism that socio-political conflict is allowed to exist and be part of an opened socio-political process. Under the pressure of conservative ideologists (expressing corporate agenda to stop humanitarian progress and have only technical one), our liberal specialists are afraid of being accused in being lofty “lefties” with leaflets, aggressive “progressives” or be marked as murky “Marxists” or lovers of terrorists. It is safer for them in their work not to make references to life and just to analyze the technological trends and communicational structures of painting or cinema.

For many liberal specialists in cinema, for example, Jean-Luc Godard or Fassbinder are film directors only because they have perverted, almost sexual symbiosis with film as a medium and are hooked on movie-making like lovers on each other. They refer to these directors and their work through anecdotes about their personal lives, clichés about the “content” of their films, but the main interest for them is how auteurs manipulate the medium in their own unique manner. The same goes for painting or poetry. Our specialists have invented euphemistic and pleonastic language to be able to talk about the objects of their research without any reference to the existential concerns of philosophers or artists that penetrate the very form of their works.

Practically, what liberal specialists do with culture as an object of their “independent” thinking is very similar with what neo-conservative pundits and politicians do with American political process – transform it into a kind of mad house where everything can mean its opposite and where there are no stable definitions. It’s exactly how it was in the Soviet Union where the Hegelian tool of “dialectics” in rude and frivolous hands of Soviet Communists has been transformed into the magic rod able to transubstantiate everything into its opposite according to the private will of the “dialectician” trying to gain advantage over his opponents and enemies. A large part of “post-modern” scholarship is a liberal equivalent of right wing propagandist destruction of human language.

Not all the independent specialists are like the ones described here, but too many of them, tragically for American democracy, are very close to it.