We are indebted to Chris Hedges for reminding us of Julien Benda’s book La Trahison des Clercs (translated into English somewhat clumsily as The Treason of the Intellectuals), first published in 1927. Benda identifies the fundamental betrayal as the subjugation of knowledge to power, or “the desire to debase the values of knowledge before the values of action,” and then the equally as repellant exaltation in the result.
We note Benda’s reference to the sophist student Callicles, and his dismissive contempt for philosophers, as recorded in the Gorgias:
Like Benda in 1927, we are deeply disgusted in 2013 by the shameless cowardice of today’s consortium of clercs, for all their Calliclesian sophistication: cowardly silence regarding ongoing extralegal drone warfare; abuses inside Gitmo; the travails of Bradley Manning and other whistle blowers; and the long list of astonishingly corrupt and mendacious behaviors within the “busy centre and the market-place”. Such silence marks a crushing dominance of the morality of circumstance over more fundamental ethical imperatives. Violent mammals do not handle such unfettered relativism very well.
Yes, we know that such a perspective marks DP as ridiculous and unmanly— we patiently await our stripes.