Saturday, 21 February 2009

Intellectuals and capitalism

I saw this quote yesterday, and was so taken by it, I copied it. However, I can't remember where I copied it from, so please don't accuse me of nicking someone else's work without attribution (although I have tidied up the spelling):

I am reminded of the influential US philosopher Robert Nosick who in an article published in 1998 posed the question "Why do Intellectuals oppose capitalism" . The answer according to Nosick was that intellectual expected to be the most highly valued people in a society, those with most prestige and power.

But capitalism does not reward its intellectuals as they have nothing of value to sell in the marketplace.

It gets mightily up the nose of intellectuals that popular artists such as Kylie Minogue for example can earn millions of dollars per year, while intellectuals like Kevin Rudd can only earn public service salaries.

Their response is to re-shape the world via socialism to enable the rewards to flow to them instead. It is not that intellectuals actually oppose a merit based reward system, its just that as they have nothing to offer a capitalist society then society itself must be reconstituted so that it does reward them.

Another viewpoint that I have heard is that socialists just want to spread misery. They don't want you to be happy, wallowing there in your lounge chair whilst you watch some pap on your plasma TV and have your fancies tickled. They want you to be sweating over some impossible book, like Marx, being miserable but enlightened. Have you ever seen an intellectual laugh? Doubt it - they're much too serious for that.

I'll go with the misery idea.


Wand said...


Hmmm - well your quote came from the comments section to this piece on the PM's class war by Costa. (Scroll down to Sirocco).

And oh yes, I think the observations make sense. I would generalise further to say that very often the ideas of the collective be that Socialism, Marxism, Nazism, Fascism whatever seem to have emanated from the minds of the idle (rich). When it has been from the minds of the idle rich I'd suggest that it is probably a result of (misplaced) feelings of guilt. When it is from the minds of the idle (those with nothing better to do) I'd suggest it is probably because of a superior view of how things should be, i.e., those people would tell us what to do (for our own good of course).

bikeonaboy said...

So it was - I must remember to capture the link when I borrow stuff.