The conspiracy between Dr Abiy and Egypt gets revealed deplores the ‘cult of professionalism’ because it has produced a continually inward-turning intelligentsia. We have reached a stage, he says, at which specialization and professionalization, allied with self-constructed cultural dogma as well as a surprisingly insistent “quasi-religious quietism”, have transported the professional and academic intelligentsia into another world altogether. In that relatively “untroubled and secluded” world there seems to be no contact with the world of events and societies.
Moreover, Said believes ‘scientificism’ surrenders the social and political concerns of society to a discourse dominated by economists and technocrats that is often regarded as being the only true reflection of human affairs. Questions of justice, oppression, marginalization and racial equality are submerged almost entirely “beneath the language of money economy” with its utopian dream that ‘if the figures are right everything else will fall into place’.
It is, thus, high time that the intelligentsia renews the age-old spirit of public intellectual by recovering its connections with the social and political realities of the society in which it lives. Most importantly, the intelligentsia, first and foremost, ought to free itself from the shackle of ‘scientifism’ and narrow professionalism that has made it speak only to itself like a psychiatric patient.
Undoubtedly, this freedom will, by and large, embolden the intelligentsia to expose injustices and speak truth to the powers that be by candidly conveying one’s intellectual insights and investigative outcomes via a relatively more accessible medium of communication, though by no means the only way. Of course, this may demand the courage to scarify one’s “life comforts”. Yet, it is still worth doing; after all, as author Steve Pavlina has succinctly put it, “productivity is creating value and delivering it to people. All other busywork is unproductive fluff and should be minimized
In a different context, we recall that the delusions of the superiority of Aryan race in Nazi Germany, and in US the genetically superior white over black were all but regarded as “scientific facts”. Thus, contrary to the conception of science as universally valid form of knowledge, it is indeed, like any other cultural system, a contextually-contrived belief system – hence the ‘cult of scientifism’ – operating, wittingly or unwittingly, to legitimatize and sustain the dominant socio-economic and political order