December 24, 2015
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I’ve been a bit harsh about France. Yes, the French are the kings of bullshit. Yes, their intellectual output over the last two centuries has been a net harm on human civilization. Yes, all things considered, the French might be better off just shutting themselves in madrassa and reciting the Koran, rather than reading Focault and Derrida.
But you can hardly blame them. The French just happened to take intellectual pursuit very seriously, and in a culture where everything is concentrated in the capital, and intellectual pursuits are given high status, market competition is going to reward the most useful and productive pieces of intellectual work. And given that inherent epistemological constraints mean that most people just can’t possibly know anything at all except a narrow area of expertise; well any popular intellectual construct must necessarily be complete bullshit. That’s what people demand: bullshit to lubricate conversation, to make people talk so that gossip comes out easily, and social alliances can be made. The French were just pioneers in the modern intellectual marketplace. And they paid dearly for it.
But they were only first, not the only ones. Any culture where people read the press, and most social conversation is based on the content on mass media is going to inevitably fall down the French path. See the mighty English. If you have a Twitter account you can do worse than follow this account: https://twitter.com/SoMuchGuardian
Some samples (disable your AdBlock to see them):
Somebody needs to write an English version of Soumission.