Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Is Anarchism over intellectualized

+1 vote
Who is more attracted to Anarchism, intellectuals or ordinary people
asked Nov 5 by curious bystander (330 points)

Who gets to decide what constitutes "over-intellectualizing?" And based on what criteria? Who's to say that the people who tell others they're over-intellectualizing aren't under-intellectualizing?

both intellectuals and "ordinary people" aka non-intellectuals, are attracted to anarchist ideas (aka anarchism, i guess). the difference is more in the kind of anarchist thinking or practice they focus on  (or acknowledge). there's more than enough spread in anarchist ideas to accommodate all the peoples.

so the answer to your question is no.

edit: please never use the tags anarchy, anarchists, anarchism on this site. they are entirely redundant.

This makes me think about the interesting space that characters who are neither/both inhabit. In particular, I am thinking autodidacts like Novaotre, deep thinkers from modest backgrounds like Arrigoni, and simple plain speaking folks who were raised in black diapers (Laurence Labadie). Obviously there are lots of examples (some of who post here sometimes), but I don't really see a definitive line between intellectuals and "ordinary" people. Does make me think of that catchy Pulp song Common People though...

good point matt, I mentioned in my answer that many people are too, for lack of a better word, dumb. I think it would make for a more desirable world if people who under int. stopped that shit than if everything was dumbed down to where everyone else can understand it. dumbing things down reminds me of Harrison bergeron

"Who gets to decide what constitutes "over-intellectualizing?" And based on what criteria? Who's to say that the people who tell others they're over-intellectualizing aren't under-intellectualizing?"

Anyone who reads something and is left thinking: " Oh man, that's above my head".

Unnecessary conceptualization.

Who's to say some have the ability, or even the inclination.

"please never use the tags anarchy, anarchists, anarchism on this site. they are entirely redundant".

Thought I had to add the suggested tags or make one's up! What's the deal though, no harm done!

"I think it would make for a more desirable world if people who under int. stopped that shit than if everything was dumbed down to where everyone else can understand it".

Mighty compassionate. Why not just line them up against a wall, bang, bang. If schooling is dumbing down, can the students help but being dumb?

There could be another agenda rather than just "people are under intellectual". Just wait for the robots to take over!!!

Anyone who reads something and is left thinking: " Oh man, that's above my head".

Unnecessary conceptualization.

Who's to say some have the ability, or even the inclination.

So then you have two options: either read up and expand your knowledge base or simply don't participate in the discussion. Other people aren't obligated to hold your hand just because you can't be bothered to do the work necessary to formulate a compelling argument.

"So then you have two options: either read up and expand your knowledge base or simply don't participate in the discussion".

What if they have little time due to the demands of their job, family commitments, or whatever?

Perhaps people want to join in a discussion to understand more, but the arrogance of your reply may in fact be very off putting. It sounds like: "Fuck off, don't bother me until you've read or listened to x amount on Anarchism. Then and only then will you be worthy of my attention."!

What is the purpose of Anarchy 101 Q&A if not for those who want answers to submit questions. A question is always valid as a question is attempt to "expand your knowledge base".

I asked the question as many on this Forum seem very up themselves and not as open as what I thought Anarchists would be. A few seem to have way too many rules by which everyone should abide by. Which is laughable really. Really, really laughable.

What if they have little time due to the demands of their job, family commitments, or whatever?

Then Option 2 is probably their best choice. 

Perhaps people want to join in a discussion to understand more, but the arrogance of your reply may in fact be very off putting.

If you're feeling put off, I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm not here to "convert" you.

What is the purpose of Anarchy 101 Q&A if not for those who want answers to submit questions.

This is actually one area in which I kind of agree with you. Not to step on the toes of anyone who maintains this website, but I think that the title of Anarchy101 is a wee bit misleading. As has been stated in other threads, most, if not all, of the people who comment here tend toward the 'post-left' and 'egoist' schools of anarchist thought rather than more orthodox leftist tendencies like anarcho-communism or anarcho-syndicalism. In my experience, people don't usually arrive at post-left or egoist thought until after taking a long and winding path through some of the more orthodox forms of anarchism, becoming disillusioned with them, and looking for more vibrant alternatives that are more relevant to contemporary life.

The challenge with having an introductory Q&A website about anarchist theory when you're not coming from a 'typical' anarchist perspective is, I suspect, something like this: on the one hand you want to try and "meet people where they are" and keep things as accessible as possible while, on the other hand, not appearing like you endorse a watered down, one-size-fits-all anarchism. Personally, I'm not sure how that can happen before people have at least a baseline understanding of more orthodox anarchist doctrine and where it fits in a broader historical context. For my part, I'm more interested in talking to people who already have that baseline understanding of what anarchism so that we talk about how to make it relevant to the 21st century than I am with people who are just getting into it for the first time. Call that arrogant if you want, but that's just where my focus happens to be.

A few seem to have way too many rules by which everyone should abide by.

How is your own lack of familiarity with a particular topic a "rule" that other people are imposing on you? You're the one who decided to jump into a debate that I was having with edclear and, when it became obvious that you were in over your head, you make me out to be the bad guy for not going easy on you. How does that even make sense?

i like reading stuff like wolfi writes because it appeals more to my raw emotions and instincts than it does my thinking brain....but since so much of relating with people involves talking/using words, i also like to find ways to verbalize, as simply as possible, my disdain for hierarchical, authoritarian institutions and thought patterns....so writing that can capture the feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness that i think authority has caused, and can break down those causes simply, and deeply, resonate with me.

and fwiw, i don't consider myself "oridnary" OR "intellectual"... :)

i don't ever think anything i read or hear "is over my head"....i only consider how much i resonate with something/someone, how much i think i understand their meaning, and how important it is to me to try to understand in any given situation, with a particular person(s).
seems to me that asking the question in such terms indicates an absorption of the banal anti-intellectualism that permeates American culture, and has from the beginning of European settlement. that any type of generalized philosophy (whether anarchism or something else that also contains some Big Ideas) will attract intellectuals is taken for granted, but for me the larger question is who says ordinary people aren't intellectuals, or aren't capable of becoming intellectuals? perhaps the most annoying aspect of this false dichotomy is when patronizing wannabe proletarians deliberately dumb-down their messages and media to attract ordinary people -- as if ordinary people (whoever they are) are just too stupid to understand Big Ideas with Big Words...

""I think it would make for a more desirable world if people who under int. stopped that shit than if everything was dumbed down to where everyone else can understand it".

Mighty compassionate. Why not just line them up against a wall, bang, bang. If schooling is dumbing down, can the students help but being dumb?"

while ill admit "stop that shit" was an oversimplification that ignores individuals strengths and weaknesses, as intelligence isn't everyone's strength, I was more trying to say what others are getting at here, that it isn't everyone's responsibility to dumb things down, its either you can get it with additional studies and using your noodle or you cant.

If you knew anything about Harrison Bergeron, you would know that I think killing all dumb people so everyone is smart is equally as great a tragedy as outfitting the strongest and smartest among us with devices to lower them to everyone else.

"What if they have little time due to the demands of their job, family commitments, or whatever?

Then Option 2 is probably their best choice."

Option 2 was: "don't participate in the discussion". That seems to me too exclusive, too cold and unwelcoming. What I was getting at is, why not have a simple overview, not dumbing down as some put it, just straight talking language. Why does Anarchism need an expansive intricate philosophy?

"Perhaps people want to join in a discussion to understand more, but the arrogance of your reply may in fact be very off putting.

If you're feeling put off, I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm not here to "convert" you."

I'm getting used to your sharp tongue, implicit put downs and the like. I know you're not here to convert, but sometimes it seems like territorial pissing.

"What is the purpose of Anarchy 101 Q&A if not for those who want answers to submit questions.

This is actually one area in which I kind of agree with you. Not to step on the toes of anyone who maintains this website, but I think that the title of Anarchy101 is a wee bit misleading."

The answer here I like, not just for content but for its humanity. A statement, but not laying down the law, and yeah, lacking arrogance laugh.

"A few seem to have way too many rules by which everyone should abide by.

How is your own lack of familiarity with a particular topic a "rule" that other people are imposing on you? You're the one who decided to jump into a debate that I was having with edclear and, when it became obvious that you were in over your head, you make me out to be the bad guy for not going easy on you. How does that even make sense?"

It doesn't make sense as I wasn't necessarily firing a shot at you, guilty conscience? I've been reading through much material here, some going back years, and there seems to be a recurring trend of closing down those who do not seem to agree!

And not so. I never felt out of my depth, just what you were saying was half irrelevant, and/or extreme, blunt, as I said before to you. So don't take this too personal.

We touched upon the the "ineffability of communication". I'm left wondering if we can ever develop a clear means of exchange with the written word.

What I was getting at is, why not have a simple overview, not dumbing down as some put it, just straight talking language. Why does Anarchism need an expansive intricate philosophy?

Here you go:

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/index.html

Enjoy.

Cool, nice site. I'll spend a lot of time there. Even dictionary definitions for a dumbass like me laugh. Genuinely, thanks.

I would say sometimes anarchism can be overly complicated and can be a bit too abstract for me sometimes. Regarding if it's too "intellectualirized," I'd say no and one doesn't need to be an intellectual to grasp the basic ideas of it.

2 Answers

0 votes
perhaps, and I am basing this on the P-leftist idea that people are uninterested in anarchy for the same reason they don't vote or follow state politics. The ideological and intellectual discourse is, or atleast seems irrelevant, boring. and alienated from their daily lives. which I think is the basis for the PL emphasis on lived experience over ideology.

edit: as much as I hate to say it, and love to read dot and others words, many people are just too dumb to understand, to apathetic to care, or too lazy to read/not literate enough.
answered Nov 6 by DonnieDarko (470 points)
DD, while you're certainly correct that there are plenty of intellectually lazy people in the world, i find that as a response to any particular thing (why more people aren't interested in anarchy for one off-the-top-of-my-head example) it's intellectually lazy itself. the anarchist version of "they hate us for our freedoms" (what bush said after 9/11 as a catch all reason for why anyone might hate americans). it's better for me personally (and the conversations i'm interested in) to be more challenging about why people do what they do (or don't do what they don't do, i guess). msr and frere dupont texts are really good examples of this. http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/frere-dupont-why-is-it-that-others-feel-no-interest-for-us
and ingrate, i reject you calling novatore, et al non-intellectuals. they were absolutely intellectuals (a silly subjective definition of intellectual is anyone who reads and understands nietzsche... ;) ), and intellectual and academic MUST be separated. because fuck academia, obviously. but maybe you have some other association/definition going on that you could clue me in on?
you are saying that, blaming uniterest entirely on people being to lazy to read or learn was a bit lazy, and hasty of an answer when it is probably much more nuanced? checks out
–3 votes

Dot didn't write: "[Anarchism is] intellectually lazy itself."

Absolutely. As unfortunate as it is to admit, there is a strong current of populist anti-intellectualism within the anarchist milieu itself. The irony is that this same tendency can be seen within Donald Trump's core base of supporters, who have stylized themselves as these "John Q. Everyman, Working Class Hero" types who are taking on the globalist corporate fat cats who want to ship their jobs overseas. While I would agree that institutionalized academia definitely needs to be critiqued, critiquing it on the grounds that it's "too intellectual" is just code for saying "I'm too stupid to understand what those ivory academics are talking about." It's certainly a valid critique to say that academia as a bureaucratic institution reflects the capitalist mental/manual division of labour and, as such, reduces "the Intellectual" to a 'specialist' or 'expert' in intellectual activity. It also isn't entirely inaccurate to say that universities have, to a significant extent, become havens for self-righteous left-activist PC police who want to cram their sensibilities down everyone else's throats. 

However, it is nothing less than a celebration of idiocy to conclude from all this that anarchists need to be "less intellectual." If anything, it's an argument for highjacking the intellectual tools that universities make available and using them for our own purposes. It would also be a mistake to say that this anti-intellectual streak is the sole province of the 'leftist' contingent of the anarchist milieu because I've seen it expressed among certain segments of the 'anti-civ' tendency as well. Without mentioning any names, it is particularly common among those who refuse to even engage with certain concepts and theorists because they're deemed to be too 'Postmodern,' too 'elitist,' too 'esoteric,' etc. This attitude is particularly common among those for whom anthropology is considered to be the Holy Grail of the social sciences. ;) So, no, I don't buy the idea that anarchists are "too intellectual." If anything, they aren't intellectual enough and need to seriously ratchet up their intellectual game.

answered Nov 6 by Matt Dionysus (420 points)
edited Nov 6 by Matt Dionysus

Personally, I'm not entirely convinced that thoughts and feelings can be so easily separated. The thoughts that a person chooses to have are, to a large extent, selected on the basis of feeling. That being the case, the idea that something can contradict what you feel but not what you think doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Like you, I also trust my feelings and instincts, but part of trusting my feelings and instincts is a willingness to admit to myself when they might be causing me to see things unclearly.

regarding the feelings not matching the thoughts....and in my discussion here, i mean to keep relating this back to the desire for anarchy vs. authority.....

for example, many people think that school, jobs, money, government will make them feel happier, safer, secure, etc......but the feelings they often get from those concepts - pain, fear, frustration, anxiety - contradict those thoughts....yet the thoughts of wanting to keep those concepts alive persist, despite the feelings.

for me to understand you better, perhaps you could give me an example where you radically changed your thoughts/perspective on something that was not initiated by emotions and feelings. and i'd find it interesting to know why you changed (or even had the desire to change) that perspective.

in my life, i came to read about anarchy once i really started giving more attention to the pain i felt from authority...something i did often as a young person (i tried to escape first grade during my first week, i skipped almost every class in my second year of high school, i ran away from home, briefly, at 16), but then i gave in for a while to the dominant thoughts of authority and control. once i began to acknowledge those feelings again (and they began mounting one on top of the other as i rolled into my early 30's), i started seeking out people and writing that also expressed those feelings, and i read stuff that delved into how these thought patterns came about, how they persist and get reinforced, and used that to deconstruct the language of hierarchy, to find ways to talk about it, and to act on those feelings. had i not given my senses and emotions that attention, i doubt i'd be on an anarchy site spilling my thoughts into cyberspace right now. :)

"for me to understand you better, perhaps you could give me an example where you radically changed your thoughts/perspective on something that was not initiated by emotions and feelings."

I'm not saying that emotions should be sacrificed in favour of intelligence. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm saying that there is no binary choice between intelligence and emotion. To choose intelligence over emotion would be no more intelligent than choosing emotion over intelligence. What you call "feeling," I would describe as intuition. To me, Intellect and Intuition are not opposed to each other but are, instead, complementary aspects of one and the same process - i.e. "Thinking" itself. Valuing one aspect over the other would quite literally be valuing one hemisphere of the brain over the other.

When I said in my previous comment that "part of trusting my feelings and instincts is a willingness to admit to myself when they might be causing me to see things unclearly," this doesn't mean that I can't use those very feelings and instincts to help me discern the lack of clarity and how I might overcome it. However, I can only accomplish this if I make use of an intelligent intuition rather than choosing one over the other. This false opposition is precisely what so-called "Enlightenment" rationalism got wrong - and it is long overdue for Intellect and Intuition to be placed on complementary rather than oppositional footing.

i didn't say there was a binary choice between emotions and thoughts, or that they are opposed to each other. that's your interpretation of what i wrote, but far from my meaning.

i don't sense we're much closer to understanding each other here, or that you're interpreting my comments in the way i've intended them.. it seems like we're having our own separate conversation about different things....so i'll bow out for now.
I think this is what you'd call a two-sided miscommunication. But, yeah, I think you're probably right that we're talking about completely different things. No worries, it happens.
...