Obstacles for "Intellectuals"

Mockingbird

Well-known member
I think that in the world of cult critics and people who read and comment on these topics some obstacles come up that you often have to find for yourself the hard way.



It is human nature to fall into some traps, at least for some people in some situations, in my opinion. Maybe it is a combination of personality, how one was raised, and the culture around you along with the results of your own choices, and possible other factors.



There are some maxims that hint at it but I think you need to be on the lookout for them and further you need to realize "hey, this applies to ME PERSONALLY FOR REAL ! And not just people I think of as arrogant assholes ! WOW !"



In leaving Scientology I ran into some of the clues, but some things take a lot of repetition and variation to sink in, because of a variety of reasons. I was looking hard at how ideas applied or didn't apply to Hubbard, Scientology and Scientologists when I looked at a lot of material and not at how it would apply in a past Scientology life or another situation with no support of any mass movement.



Additionally, we have biases that make it easy to see how these ideas apply to other people and groups but to think they don't apply to me for some odd reason or another.



I think that if we force ourselves to look at what has been said about intellectuals some things keep coming up. And whether you get a degree or three or are self taught (autodidact) and just find your own way it applies to lots of people. If you think you know something that most people don't and they and society would benefit from people knowing your knowledge then that is enough to be an intellectual for the purposes of this post.



I think that many ex cult members and cult watchers have this quality, we feel like we have knowledge that most people don't and could benefit from.



“Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.”

—Tom Toro (b. 1982), American cartoonist for The New Yorker

“Scratch an intellectual, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound and the smell of common folk.”
― Eric Hoffer


“One cannot escape the impression that the intellectual’s most fundamental incompatibility is with the masses. He has managed to thrive in social orders dominated by kings, nobles, priests, and merchants, but not in societies suffused with the tastes and values of the masses.”
― Eric Hoffer


“We should realize that, if [Socrates] demanded that the wisest men should rule, he clearly stressed that he did not mean the learned men; in fact, he was skeptical of all professional learnedness, whether it was that of the philosophers or of the learned men of his own generation, the Sophists. The wisdom he meant was of a different kind. It was simply the realization: how little do I know! Those who did not know this, he taught, knew nothing at all. This is the true scientific spirit.”
― Karl Popper

“Every intellectual has a very special responsibility. He has the privilege and the opportunity of studying. In return, he owes it to his fellow men (or 'to society') to represent the results of his study as simply, clearly and modestly as he can. The worst thing that intellectuals can do – the cardinal sin – is to try to set themselves up as great prophets vis-à-vis their fellow men and to impress them with puzzling philosophies. Anyone who cannot speak simply and clearly should say nothing and continue to work until he can do so.”
― Karl Popper


“Scratch a conservative and you find someone who prefers the past over any future. Scratch a liberal and find a closet aristocrat. It’s true! Liberal governments always develop into aristocracies. The bureaucracies betray the true intent of people who form such governments. Right from the first, the little people who formed the governments which promised to equalize the social burdens found themselves suddenly in the hands of bureaucratic aristocracies. Of course, all bureaucracies follow this pattern, but what a hypocrisy to find this even under a communized banner. Ahhh, well, if patterns teach me anything it’s that patterns are repeated. My oppressions, by and large, are no worse than any of the others and, at least, I teach a new lesson. —”
― Frank Herbert


“It is another kind of marriage—the marriage of privilege and duty. It is the aristocrat’s explanation and his excuse.”
― Frank Herbert



“People are called intellectuals because they're privileged. It's not because they're smart or they know a lot. There are plenty of people who know more and are smarter but aren't intellectuals because they don't have the privilege. The people called intellectuals are privileged. They have resources and opportunities, and enough freedom has been won so that they state does not have an unrestrained capacity to repress”
― Noam Chomsky
“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.”
― Noam Chomsky


“Responsibility I believe accrues through privilege. People like you and me have an unbelievable amount of privilege and therefore we have a huge amount of responsibility. We live in free societies where we are not afraid of the police; we have extraordinary wealth available to us by global standards. If you have those things, then you have the kind of responsibility that a person does not have if he or she is slaving seventy hours a week to put food on the table; a responsibility at the very least to inform yourself about power. Beyond that, it is a question of whether you believe in moral certainties or not.”
― Noam Chomsky

“If anybody thinks they should listen to me because I'm a professor at MIT, that's nonsense. You should decide whether something makes sense by its content, not by the letters after the name of the person who says it.”
― Noam Chomsky

You read these words and get the impression that intellectual life brings a temptation to be an aristocrat and elitist who sees himself or herself as a cut above everybody else. If we say "through my hard work I am a cut above everybody else and have essential knowledge they lack", that is very likely to produce arrogance and contempt. It won't be a temptation everyone succumbs to, or succumbs to equally or everyone succumbs to in the same way.

But just as some people will be more corrupt if they have more power or wealth or admiration than they would be without these things, so to will some people not be corrupt if given great power, wealth and so on.

How someone can keep from getting arrogant and even disdainful towards others is hard to see. After all, if we "know" our knowledge is superior and important and the problem is that others either don't know our knowledge or agree with us about it, then we can fall into the temptation to see ourselves as a cut above them, as people who should be respected and listened to or even obeyed.

That can be a dangerous delusion in my opinion. I have repeatedly rejected jobs and promotions that include authority over others because I KNOW that I would make terrible mistakes if I had power. I don't want to improperly discipline or penalize or fire people unfairly or let bad employees get away with improper behavior too much. I am afraid that I would do both and that I would make other mistakes too, like being too harsh or inconsiderate sometimes, being too emotional and unfairly angry with people.

I don't like it as the recipient, so I want to limit myself regarding delivering it.

But that doesn't make it any less of a problem in other contexts.

I think we can get an unhealthy attitude to see ourselves as "having the right knowledge, the right answers, if only those uneducated people would figure that out and listen, everything would be fine", I think that attitude pushes self confidence into the stratosphere and promotes not only delusions of grandeur but for some of us unjustified delusions of competence, we just know so little about how our ideas and solutions would work out if actually pursued but can imagine them as flawless works of genius without really knowing our asses from a hole in the ground regarding the reality of application.

This sets someone up to be self-deluded and deeply conceited. And to think "I have this all worked out," to never have to prove it, and to see the failures on our part as proof of the inferiority of others, non-intellectual commoners and the imperfections and failures of other individuals, groups and society as rock solid proof that they are ignorant and inferior. Yikes.

I think it leads to having to find some way of attaining genuine compassion and humility. I just don't know of any other solution. I think being honest about this is the first step, saying this is the challenge and why it exists. But meeting the challenge to be genuinely compassionate and humble ?

Now that is the real question.
 

Karakorum

Well-known member
I find it hard to read these statements from Chomsky with a straight face. Chomsky is probably the apogee of academicians who "set themselves up as great prophets vis-à-vis their fellow men and to impress them with puzzling philosophies". Just sayin' ;)

That can be a dangerous delusion in my opinion. I have repeatedly rejected jobs and promotions that include authority over others because I KNOW that I would make terrible mistakes if I had power.
This is also a dangerous altitude, as you may have simply made room for people who lack this sort of self-awareness and cautious mindset.
Megalomaniacs and narcissists will always jump to the occasion, because they do not have these sorts of doubts.

This sets someone up to be self-deluded and deeply conceited. And to think "I have this all worked out," to never have to prove it, and to see the failures on our part as proof of the inferiority of others, non-intellectual commoners and the imperfections and failures of other individuals, groups and society as rock solid proof that they are ignorant and inferior. Yikes.
Which is a reason to step up and act, or take command. Put yourself in a position where the "never have to prove it" part will no longer be possible. Let reality verify this.
 
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Mockingbird

Well-known member
I find it hard to read these statements from Chomsky with a straight face. Chomsky is probably the apogee of academicians who "set themselves up as great prophets vis-à-vis their fellow men and to impress them with puzzling philosophies". Just sayin' ;)


This is also a dangerous altitude, as you may have simply made room for people who lack this sort of self-awareness and cautious mindset.
Megalomaniacs and narcissists will always jump to the occasion, because they do not have these sorts of doubts.


Which is a reason to step up and act, or take command. Put yourself in a position where the "never have to prove it" part will no longer be possible. Let reality verify this.
Chomsky like all of us is not perfect. If we only took advice from perfect people we would not take any.

I think that we can look at individual claims and see if they hold value, otherwise we fall into the bad habit of rejecting valid claims from flawed people and accepting bad claims from people we like.


But regarding taking charge, I think that frankly some people have poor temperament for leadership and this would result in real harm.

I don't want to make that harm a reality.



I think groups need to develop ways to detect and remove human predators. The mildest ones may be able to function in society or not but the worst definitely need removal.

I think having people who know they would duck up even horribly grab power to stop worse people is a slippery slope.

I could never be the boss and make the hiring and firing decisions so it would be terrible if I grabbed power to avoid a worse guy, because it would be settling for bad to avoid worse. We actually need good and competent leaders, not human predators or people who would duck it up.
 

Karakorum

Well-known member
Chomsky like all of us is not perfect. If we only took advice from perfect people we would not take any.
I think that we can look at individual claims and see if they hold value, otherwise we fall into the bad habit of rejecting valid claims from flawed people and accepting bad claims from people we like.
Agreed, although I tend to find most of Chomsky's notions to be unhelpful and hypocritical.

But regarding taking charge, I think that frankly some people have poor temperament for leadership and this would result in real harm.

I don't want to make that harm a reality.
Agreed. Just be cause over it.

Eek! where did that last sentence come from? I've been spending too much time on ex-scn related forums. CoS terms are starting to pop into my head at random.

I think groups need to develop ways to detect and remove human predators. The mildest ones may be able to function in society or not but the worst definitely need removal.
In democratic countries there are courts and prisons that handle that. No justice system is perfect, but one is always needed.

Having said that, I'd be ware with going too far with the notion of "removal" of "human predators". That feels a bit too much like it might lead to SP declares, creation of RPFs or maoists rehab centers.


I think having people who know they would duck up even horribly grab power to stop worse people is a slippery slope.
Yes, but the other extreme is also a slipper slope. To translate into modern English a local saying: "The wise tends to give the right of way to the stupid... and that's why things are so messed up".

I could never be the boss and make the hiring and firing decisions so it would be terrible if I grabbed power to avoid a worse guy, because it would be settling for bad to avoid worse. We actually need good and competent leaders, not human predators or people who would duck it up.
True. But from what you have just said, I think you would still be a better leader than Dave, Marty, Mike or Janet.
Of that bunch, I feel Guillaume was probably the only real leader.
 
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