Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ideology, and the rules of the intelligentsia

While I tend to agree with Michel Foucault with regard to the question of Human Nature—put indelicately, that is that we cannot arrive at a totalized, reliable sense of any innate psychological "Nature" in people that remains unexposed and invulnerable to the social, political, economic, ideological forces of the contemporaneous environment—and therefore the existence of anything but an abstract, temporal notion of "Justice," I have always appreciated Chomsky's democratic attitude toward the problem of social analysis:

"The social sciences generally, and above all the analysis of contemporary affairs, are quite accessible to anyone who wants to take an interest in these matters. The alleged complexity, depth, and obscurity of these questions is part of the illusion propagated by the system of ideological control, which aims to make the issues seem remote from the general population and to persuade them of their incapacity to organize their own affairs or to understand the social world in which they live without the tutelage of intermediaries... In the analysis of social and political issues it is sufficient to face the facts and to be willing to follow a rational line of argument. Only Cartesian common sense, which is quite evenly distributed, is needed... beyond that no special esoteric knowledge is require to explore these 'depths,' which are nonexistent." -from "Politics," Noam Chomsky's interview with Mitsou Ronat, incorporated in the book version of the Chomsky-Foucault Debate.

Click here for an online version of the title debate, sans supplementary arguments and interviews:

The Chomsky-Foucault Debate: "Human Nature: Justice vs. Power"


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