Monday, 9 June 2014

When freedom matters look to the intellectuals, not the populists

Mark Textor in A confession - even the elites have their place has an interesting column about elites and intellectuals:
Sharing his mood, I said: ''Typical of the elites, they would not understand popular opinion if it fell on their heads.'' I vividly remember how his mood changed. He asked me to cross the room with him to look at some fading pictures on the wall. Three of them were of him and his wife sharing tea and a meal with Pope John Paul II. Another was a photograph of a group of men in what appeared to be a forest glade. I recall he said: ''These men were what you would call elites, Mark. Writers, artists, lawyers, priests, and at this meeting we were risking our lives talking about the resistance. It was these 'intellectuals' that fought the 'populists'. They spent time in prison fighting for the rights of others.'' It was the first time I'd heard that description used with passion in the negative. "Without these people, you would not be here and we would not have a vote.'' Then he told me he was imprisoned for his work as a lawyer and activist.

The thing that struck me about this former associate of the ''elite'' was that he had fought for true democracy, he had earned his stripes. He had done what he'd done for the right reasons. He was, as we say in politics, ''amongst the action''.

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