A few words about words

Got quite a few things I want to think through at the moment, but to start off, here’s some advice for everyone who has interesting ideas that could potentially be useful, but insists on phrasing them in incomprehensible academic jargon:

“I would characterise intellectual elitism as the domination of a small number of people within a group, by virtue of academic training and familiarity with philosophical concepts – bolstered and worsened by the use of what amounts to the use of a linguistic secret code ( or ‘jargon’, to be rude ), which is virtually indecipherable to the majority of members, and, which. is worse, to the rest of humanity. ( And here I add perhaps an obvious point, that if this small contribution is just as indecipherable, then I shall accept richly deserved criticism.) The Oxford discussion on “The New Movement” positively oozed this sort of elitism, and this was reflected in a mood of frustration at the end of the conference. We shared that mood, were amongst those who voiced it, and have written this in consequence. Intellectual elitism ultimately leads to the domination of a few self-appointed gurus, and a rapidly dwindling majority of pissed-off members with no access to the jargon. And unless Solidarity wants to become a sort of libertarian “New Left Review”, it must recognise that in voting with their feet, the pissed-off majority are in the right. ( By implication, of course, this holds true for the rest of humanity, except for a few thousand parasitic academics who get, their buzz from mental wanking.) Emphatically, this does not mean an end to theorising. What it does mean’ is that all members have the right to discuss ideas they are all fully capable of understanding in the sort of language that is acceptable to the world at large. Any ideas or theories worth discussing can ultimately be translated into everyday language, and as far as I am concerned, this applies in principle even to Hegel! Perhaps a few of us should try? We need no intellectual vanguards, and one of the conditions of dispensing with them is to render any decent ideas from the past (let alone the present!) into normal language so that the gurus are out of a job for good. I scarcely need add that this does not mean churning out quotes and challenging the rest to go and look them up in Volume XXXVIII, p.387 para. (2) of the Collected Works or whatever. But until they are comprehensible, these thinkers will remain unread – deservedly so, since they never wrote for a mass audience in most cases. Most members of society are capable of learning through experience anyway. Nevertheless, it is often helpful, even in the University of Life (as they say), to know that others have been there before, and tried to give an answer. But the ability to give the answers of the past some thoughtful consideration is crucially dependent on finding out what the hell they really said. Solidarity should not be in the business of adding more bloody jargon to what is already there!”

Written in 1976 by members of the Swansea Solidarity group (and uploaded to the internet last week by the For Workers’ Power blog, which is where I found it), a lot of it still rings painfully true today.

About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
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2 Responses to A few words about words

  1. It is also a choice of society.In France, philosophy is still considered as the main school matter and now even preschools are experimenting with it. Culture is the pride of all. Result, people of all social classes over here argue permanently with pleasure, controversial and hierarchy critical and they are not scared of strong debates.I found England much more intellectual and culture repressive, considering either that its only decorating the “serious” market or elitist crap. I experience in discussion some kind of gender dominance and political correctness or class stubbornness (not limited to one specific class!) , who is often the end of discussion too.

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