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Intellectuals in Public Discourse

Intellectuals have long had a significant role in public discourse in countries around the world. The reason for this is simple; they are the people with the ideas. In any public venue, someone needs to develop a concept that others can useùprinciples of government, solutions to social problems, or systems of economics. It is generally the intellectuals who do this, primarily because they enjoy working with ideas and are adept at developing concepts. Intellectuals are quite often college-educated, as well, which means that they have been schooled in the study and formulation of ideas. Ideas and concepts are their currency, the realm they feel most comfortable in, and within that realm, they rule.

Intellectuals are influential in shaping public opinion, including whole governments, for a couple of reasons. First, they are passionate about what they believe, and passion always has the ring of truth to it; it is convincing. Second, they are good at expressing what they believe and casting it in terms that can render it acceptable to others, repurposing any offensive or unacceptable parts to look like something else and putting their own philosophical spin on it. Intellectuals are the ôspin doctorsö of public thought. This has both positive and negative implications. On the positive side, they can rally support for causes that, while worthy, are otherwise too tedious, dangerous, or expensive to command support on their ownùwar, sacrifice, or noble efforts such as helping the unfortunate. On the negative side, however, they can also garner support for causes they favor that are not at all noble, causes that others would likely never think of supporting unless convinced to do so by intellectualsùpeople they believe are more intelligent and more learned than they are. Ideologies that sound plausible on the lips of intellectuals can sway nations to do the unthinkableùenslave people for profit, incinerate innocent Jews in...

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Intellectuals in Public Discourse. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:13, April 21, 2019, from