Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The language of intellectualism

The words intellectual and intellectualism like many other words can be used in many different ways. In this entry I use the term intellectual in a particular way to critique a classist and Eurocentric trend common in western thinking. Please use your own intellect to keep up ;)

Intellectualism is a culture. It’s a technical language, jargon; with the sole purpose to exclude those who haven’t had the privilege to learn it.
Intellectualism is often confused, by both those who do and don’t consider themselves intellectuals, with intelligence and thoughtfulness.  The thoughts, observations, and conclusions of those who haven’t had the time, the access, or the interest to study works approved by the dominant culture are discounted. The language of those who don’t draw from a particular lexicon are likewise ignored. Of course those who have been educated with such information typically are of the dominant culture or have earned financial privilege in it. That is of course not to say that only white or rich people have mastered the jargon of intellectualism; just that typically it is easier for an affluent person of the dominant culture to be versed in this language.
The problem:
Oppressed people are discouraged by the culture of intellectualism. Their oppressors, and would-be / so-called allies define their worth by how versed they are in this jargon.
The task:
To reeducate oppressed people of the value of possessing intellectualist knowledge. Would such reeducation be well received?
 Or to reeducate the intellectual would-be ally that their specific knowledge of one Eurocentric language does not equate to a general knowledge of the universe, nor does it invalidate the knowledge of those who don’t share their use of intellectual jargon. Is it possible to overcome the intellectual’s chauvinism?
Maybe it is time for a new form of intellectualism. One just as knowledgeable and reliant on well thought out concepts, but perhaps less chauvinistic and pretentious. Is such a thing possible or worthwhile? Would it be wise for the various groups of oppressed people to form elite classes of thinkers based on their own cultural points of view and customs, or would that just perpetuate the existing problem? Has this already happened?
Perhaps all are appropriate tasks to some degree.
But then again what do I know?