written by Babacar Mbow
The role of the intellectual in society has long been a concern for progressive forces. For Gramsci “all men and women are intellectuals but all do not fulfill the intellectual function in society” (Antonio Gramsci, Cahier 12, paragraph 1)
This vision has led to an impoverishing and unilateral interpretation of the thought of Gramsci: reduction of hegemony to “city administrative apparatus” or an “internalization of domination by a section of the administrative class”; assimilation of the organic intellectual to a spokesperson of a city manager in interim. The intellectual hemiplegia which I speak of, which is to flatter any administrative power even when the evidences abound of his degeneration and inability to imagine can be “epistemic” the most formidable!
The intellectual must engage. S/he has a political responsibility in the Athenian definition of the term. S/he must work to deconstruct the ideology of the ruling administrative class, if it impedes the rights and freedoms of the people. The intellectuals must “open the eyes” of the mass in order to make political struggle possible. Intellectuals have no political purpose; their specific activity has nothing to do with politics and s/he must not confuse the role of sentinel of peace, justice, enlightenment and the improvement of living conditions for the majority of the citizenry.
Speaking about a certain interpretation of the intellectuals, Paul Nizan laments their guilty silence “They do not warn, “They do not report”, “They do not alert”. “They do not move” “They remain on the same side of the barricade” All those who had the simplicity to wait for their words begin to revolt, or laugh. (Paul Nizan, The Watchdogs, reissued by Agone, Marseille, 1998)
Recent developments in one of our art institutions can lead to some “nizanean” interpretations because it validates expulsion of intellectuals outside the universal, the exemplary, freedom of exploration of current concepts and dynamics, right and true for all, to specific sectors in specific points where their working and living conditions will relegate them, and soon they will encounter problems that would be specific, not universal, often different from those of the masses. This is what Michel Foucault calls the specific intellectual as opposed to universal intellectual. (Michel Foucault, s and writings II, 1976-1988, Gallimard, Paris, 2001).
This then means that for longtime, engaged intellectuals the likes of Sartre, Zola and Adrienne von Lates, in the specific context of interest here, took the floor and have been recognized the right to speak as master of truth and justice, but also as universal representatives. Being an intellectual, is to be a little consciousness of all. There have been many years since we no longer ask the intellectual to play that role.
The intellectual in the sense that we understand it, is neither a pacifier nor a consensus builder, but someone who engages and who risks everything to be on the basis of a constant criticism.
Someone who refuses whatever price, easy formulas, ready-made ideas, the complacent confirmations and actions of people in power and other conventional minds of the opposition. Not only that passively refuses, but who actively engages in public to say it.
This collective intellectual can and must first assume negative, critical functions, working to produce and disseminate instruments of defense against symbolic domination which arms itself with so morally terre-à terre plot; s/he can submit the dominant political discourse in our tropics to logical criticism, but also to the argument; s/he can also submit it to a sociological critique, which extends the first, by updating the determinants that affect the producers of the plot.
Yet, s/he can also fulfill a positive function by contributing to the collective work of political invention. Any critical political thought then has be to rebuild, and it cannot be left one guru with his/her own singular thought, nor to an authorized spokesperson by a group or institution to bring the supposed speech of supposed speechless people. This is where the collective intellectual that we are can play this irreplaceable role that no one but ourselves can assume in our place. (Pierre Bourdieu, Back Lights 2 Reasons to act, Paris, 2001).
The theory of duality of power has to work exactly like a toolbox. It is necessary that this theory serves to elucidate the issues of the moment and to understand the mechanisms of reversal or destabilization of a power whose legitimacy is no longer on the agenda, due to its unequivocal. maintaining.
This duality of theory must operate like a lantern hanging not on the back but the front of a vehicle, to illuminate its march forward (Lao Tzu). So, do not be afraid of any arbitrary or malicious labeling. We cannot escape it by fleeing into the realm of art for art’s sake and pure thought, any more than in that of disinterested objectivity or transcendental theory.
The intellectual must provide what anthropologist Wright Mills calls “de-masking” or alternate versions, through which s/he will endeavor to the best of his/her ability, to tell the truth and the whole truth. The intellectual in the sense that we understand it, is neither a pacifier nor a consensus builder, but someone who agrees and who risk everything to be on the basis of a constantly critical sense, someone who refuses whatever price the easy formulas, ready- ideas, the complacent about confirmations and actions of people in administrative power and other conventional minds of the opposition. Someone who not only passively refuses, but who actively engages in saying so in public.
The language of truth is necessary to the people! The major choice that the intellectual faces is: either ally with the false stability of victors and rulers (which should not be our direction), and it is also the most difficult path; consider this stability as alarming, a situation that threatens the lives of people, the forgetting of truth due to the illiteracy of a city administration; a civilizational nullity (Edouard Said: Of the Intellectual and Power, Seuil, Paris 1996) (Feminist Rhetoric, Ruin- and Chaos Theory are now for termination)
Faced with this situation, we must choose the right measure, we chose all paragons of virtue (be with the people, for the people, while respecting the functioning of legal institutions).
“ None but ourselves can free our mind”