Monday, June 24, 2019

What Turns Intellectuals into Strident, Ruthless, Slavedrivers?

Eric Hoffer, in his essay, “The Readiness to Work,” observes that most intellectuals, even those who stand for liberty and individualism, cannot feel wholly at home in a free society. Here’s an excerpt:
"The paradox is, then, that although the intellectual has been in the forefront of the struggle for individual freedom, he can never feel wholly at home in a free society. He finds there neither an unquestioned sense of usefulness nor favorable conditions for the realization of his talents. Hence the contradiction between what the intellectual profess while he battles the status quo, and what he practices once he comes to power. At present, in every part of the world, we see how revolutionary movements initiated by idealistic intellectuals and preserved in their keeping tend to crystallize into hierarchal social orders in which an aristocratic intelligentsia commands and the masses are expected to obey. Such social orders, as we have seen, are ideal for the performance of the intellectual but not for that of the masses. It is this circumstance rather than the corruption of power which has been turning idealistic intellectuals into strident, ruthless, slavedrivers." ~ (The Ordeal of Change by Eric Hoffer; Chapter 5, “The Readiness for Work”) 
I think that our modern society offers several examples to substantiate Hoffer’s point of view.

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