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Intellectual Suicide?

by Stephen Kaye
Mon Mar 20th, 2017

From a post on Lithub, March 20, 2017:

PANKAJ MISHRA: WE COMMITTED INTELLECTUAL SUICIDE AFTER 9/11

ON PROGRESS, POPULAR HISTORY, AND OUR BLEAK AND DIVIDED GLOBAL MOMENT

From an interview conducted by By Rafia Zakaria:

Pankaj Mishra’s latest book Age of Anger: A History of the Present, published earlier this month, presents what Mishra calls “an emotional history” at a time of “worldwide emergency” when rage fills the global political sphere. Mishra locates the core of our chaotic condition in the Nietzchean concept of “ressentiment,” a creative force that animates the rebellion of the poorest and most disenfranchised against the ruling class. It is this very force, Mishra argues, that is animating those most marginalized, its power whetted by the contradiction between the equality promised in prose and exalted in rhetoric but never delivered in reality.

PM: There are several things we should be very suspicious of: intellectuals, specifically liberal intellectuals who normalize and say we should settle down, that “the people have elected this man and we should respect their decision because the people are sacrosanct.” I disagree; the “people” have made unwise political choices many times, and so the will of the “people” can lead to disaster.

The other lesson is that one has to resist as vigorously as possible the destruction of cultural spaces and intellectual platforms. In India, Modi has made dissent nearly impossible; there are similarities in the American experience already, with the National Endowment for the Humanities and other arts organizations facing massive cuts in the Trump Administration. The conditions are different in some respects, but one has to be very unnerved by the rapid undermining of these spaces. As Arendt says, politics has to be a way of life in this moment; we have to form communities of resistance that create a sense of belonging and truth. We cannot stand alone before a semi-fascist state.

The full interview is at http://lithub.com/pankaj-mishra-we-committed-intellectual-suicide-after-...