The Contempt felt by Left Intellectuals towards their peers (Re: A 'Bad Writer' Bites Back by Judith Butler)

alexlocascio at alexlocascio at
Mon Mar 22 06:08:54 PST 1999

On Mon, 22 Mar 1999 11:26:59 -0500 Carl Remick <cremick at> writes:

>The only way to deal with this, politically, is to scrape away the
>self-serving cant of the powerful and privileged and appeal to the
>innate decency of people at large. (If you doubt this decency exists,
>of course, you belong with the right, not the left.)

>From Christopher Hitchens' essay on Leon Trotsky and the New York

"The intellectual in politics is always faced by the problem of elites, and by the much less precise notion of elitism. Should the masses or the intelligentsia be the proper target of enlightenment? Ought one to be a civilizing courtier or a declasse agitator? Trotsky himself was celebrated for his panache and individualism, and his contempt for vulgar 'public opinion' and 'common sense' [...] though no snob, he was no populist."

Honestly, Carl, all this condemnation by Left intellectuals of other Left intellectuals for failing to heed "the people" reeks of infantile Maoism.

Sadly, even The Baffler has taken this line by publishing Chris Lehmann's silly attacks on academic supporters of organized labor.

So what's behind intellectual anti-intellectualism? Feelings of self-loathing? Inadequacy?

Also, you wouldn't condemn a chemist or mathematician for being insufficiently committed to political "praxis?" So why hold a literary/cultural critic to the same standards?

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