Friday, September 12, 2008

The Re-Creation Of A Detroit Intellectual Class by Akindele Akinyemi

I find it strange that so many people call me out of my name for not supporting Obama but supporting McCain and Sarah Palin. This is called a democracy and whoever gets elected still have a whole lot of mess to deal with from the present Bush Administration. I support McCain and Palin based on my values not my skin color. Perhaps when Black people stop looking at skin color and liberal policies maybe we can move forward.

Ok enough of that.

The real deal is the fact that urban communities must be transformed for economic capital. We know that socialism and all of its children (Marxism, Black Nationalism, Cultural Nationalism, etc) has failed the Black community. Part of this revitalization is re-creating a real urban intellectual class in our community.

Intellectuals have played a major role in shaping passions, ideologies and societal visions.This is principally true in areas like Detroit where for several decades -- in spite of failed liberal policies and repression -- intellectuals helped shaped public debates and public policies.

From my own recollection and vantage point, most of the early intellectuals that I have either interviewed or talked to remained faithful to their craft. They were the purists, earning their living from the creation of their minds and brains; and were not voracious in their financial accretion. In addition, most detested party politics and also loathed serving in government -- especially government that infringed on their personal rights.

But beginning in the late 1980s, intellectualism began to take on a different shade and texture. There were new minds in town. The principal objectives began to change. This noble and august craft began to have different questions, different answers and different meanings. In a span of ten years, urban-style intellectualism became unrecognizable.

And now the society of Black intellectuals in places like Detroit have become mushy, clay-like, adulterated, corruptible, and puerile. It became a laughing stock. Some retained their stellar qualities, but for the most part, the society of our intellectuals became a pool of nothingness: a shadow of its pious past and now munching off of its past glory.

The intellectual class has become as decadent and as rotten as the forces they had opposed for three or more decades. The liberal (and even conservative) establishment co-opted some while others have been (and still is) seduced with money. The survival strategy employed by the an ineffective city government was so effective it weakened the immune and defensive system of the Detroit intellectual class.

In the end, this group of intellectuals simply rationalized their involvement by saying “it was better to fight from the inside than to be perpetual outsiders.” The belief here is that “change can only be effected from inside.” But we know of the political landscape in Detroit that nobody that ever went in came out unblemished. The Detroit system has a way of messing with ones soul and humanity. Once you go in, you can never return a saint.

Second, the strong-willed were threatened, blackmailed and prosecuted on fake criminal charges, persecuted, forced into exile by leaving the city, got fired or were demoted in their place of work. After several years of government brutality and criminality, some gave up the good fight. This accounts for why, in virtually all universities and research organizations in the world, there are Detroiters who dreaded life in exile -- and refusing to compromise their integrity -- simply gave up the good fight; faded away and died a slow mental and spiritual death.

In the third instance are the Black and despicable sheep: the wannabes, the fakes, and the so-called movers and shakers. Unhappily, the membership of this group imploded when the brain drain and the larger society was almost emptied of the first rates. It is why today, there are few bona fide intellectuals left in Detroit.

Today, the Detroit intellectual class has consisted mostly of domestic and foreign government agents; political prostitutes; loud-mouths, contractors, academic-thugs, cross-dressers and handout photo-copyists. The end goal of this class is money and political power. Their brand of intellectualism is mostly what Detroit is all about today: all around poverty and idiocy.

To be relevant in today’s Detroit, you may have to be a thief, an egregious liar, a thug, a cultist and a kidnapper. A child born within the last seventeen years may find it hard to believe that in the early and middle stages of the City of Detroit boasted a sea of eminent jurists and medical doctors, diplomats and policy wonks, artists, teachers and university professors and those who took philosophy and the art of thinking seriously.

To say that intellectual pursuit is a dying art in Detroit is not an exaggeration. There is a price to be paid for silence and cowardice in the face of oppression and injustice. In the same vein, there is a price to be paid by any nation or society that does not encourage intellectualism or intellectual pursuit. Such a society may regress, become stagnant, or spend all her years and resources imitating fluff from other parts of the world. Isn’t that what Detroit is becoming?

That Detroit can return to its vibrant past is not in question. What is in question are two significant questions: first, whether Detroit has the political will to do so; and second, whether Detroit hasn’t gone too far and too deep into the abyss for such a reversal, without incurring monumental and prohibitive cost.


A Mutavdzija said...

Wayne State University Law School is part of the problem!

Ken Matesevac said...

"There is a price to be paid for silence and cowardice in the face of oppression and injustice. In the same vein, there is a price to be paid by any nation or society that does not encourage intellectualism or intellectual pursuit."
No society can tolerate these things without incurring a price far greater than what would have been paid for doing the right or noble thing. Detroit pays the price today. Perhaps this cautionary tale—true though it is—will be a catalyst for future change...both in Detroit and elsewhere. Nicely written.