This is an issue with many different aspects, but I’ll only focus on the one that is most prominent in Australia; the view that coming across as an ‘intellectual’ type of person who uses ‘big’ words is scoffed at and looked down on, whilst the one doing the scoffing uses such vulgar and derogatory words in their daily speech, generates next to no condemnation.
What brought this post on was an internet forum I came across where some member asked if “intellectual GLBTs” exist; but the topic quickly descended into an anti-intellectual bash fest. It was an Australian website that catered to homosexuals of all ages and I quickly realised that the majority (if not all) of the members (along with the websites news section) were heavily left-wing oriented (not that I was surprised). All of the members that replied to the post had something to say against anyone who sought to educate themselves, bar one person who defended ‘textbook knowledge’ as someone called it. And it wasn’t an attack against say politicians who think they know what they’re talking about, rather against young people (whether at university or not) who use ‘big’ words and don’t have a clue about the real adult world.
Well first of all, of course any young person won’t have a clue about the ‘real adult world’, just as a 6 year old doesn’t have a clue about the ‘teenage world’ or whatever other type of world we end up encountering. I found it interesting and somewhat hypocritical for all these people making fun of those who have ‘textbook knowledge’, yet not realising that the ‘rights’ they all scream for can properly be won over by those ‘textbook knowledge’ people who are lawyers, policy makers, and others that know how to string a coherent sentence together and defy the stereotype that their ilk readily endorses and encourages.
That brings me onto my second point. The fact that the use of vulgar/derogatory language is seen as “ok” by the general Australian population (along with these people on that forum where I inspected a number of the other topics being discussed and found nothing even remotely of substance) and wouldn’t be looked down upon as much as styling yourself as an intellectual. Why is it that if you show a certain confidence in what you say, in what you do, if it shows that you’re using the power of your brain/mind, then it’s something to scoff at?
I’ve observed this at my work as well. Every single time I have a lunch break greater than 30 minutes, I make sure I bring a book with me to read in the lunch room and I’ve noticed the way some of the other staff say certain things to me, or smirk as they ask me what I’m reading.
The other thing about harbouring such negative views to education and ‘textbook knowledge’, is that, like them or not, such people end up influencing the country that you live in. Those that go on to become politicians or even philosophers, end up influencing your life in subtle and obvious ways. I can understand the anti-intellectualism against politicians and the likes of philosophers, but scoffing at them isn’t how you’ll ‘defeat’ them, rather equip yourself with the necessary knowledge and vocabulary to challenge and question their ideas.
To me an intellectual is basically a person that can think for themselves and comes to their own conclusions using nothing but their objective, rational minded self (so to have an active mind). Spouting what you read in a book, or what your professor tells you, or re-wording all of that and integrating it into your non-existent ‘personal’ views does not constitute an intellectual, rather a conformist (hence having a passive mind). This is the state of many young (and young adults) people these days. You see them on youtube, at protests, at gay pride parades, on internet forums as the one I mentioned, and anywhere else you encounter the same style of arguments.
This almost turned into a rant against the ‘gay community’ but I’m saving that for a later post.