Staunton, July 15 – Igor Mintusov says that he frequently recalls Julien Benda’s 1927 classic The Betrayal of the Intellectuals because in that book the French philosopher so precisely described what has happened to Russian intellectuals. Like others in that class Benda described, they have betrayed their calling by serving the state rather than the truth.
“I am speaking,” the president of the European Association of Political Consultants says, of those employed by the government, the Academy of Sciences, universities, and research institutes and who are recognized as intellectuals by society at large (newizv.ru/article/general/15-07-2021/dovesok-k-televizoru-pochemu-rossiyskie-intellektualy-perestali-sluzhit-istine).
“A large part of such intellectuals serve not the interests of society and do not seek social ‘truth’ as a consensus for present and future generations of Russians but instead serve the immediate interests of the representatives of the powers that be.” As a result, whatever those in power do, they can count on Russian intellectuals en masse to support them.
Such actions, Mintusov continues, “in our country are called ‘patriotism’” and anyone who doesn’t go along is accused of being “a foreign agent’” or the representative of “’unfriendly organizations.’” They are even accused of being “the hirelings of the State Department or the West.” But as the most thoughtful have agreed, “’a true intellectual is a poor patriot.’”
To remain true to their calling, intellectuals often have to pay a high price; and the powers that be do everything they can to raise that price thus discouraging all but the most committed to the pursuit of truth from doing so. It is far easier to go along or at least avoid criticizing those in power than to confront them with the truth.
And the new electronic media encourages this as well by promoting a herd mentality, one in which where most intellectuals are willing to go along becomes the norm for others who can see just how much support those who do get and how many dangers those who don’t inevitably face.