Anti-intellectualism is explored in an interesting manner throughout the initial portion of Marcuse’s recorded “Lecture on education at Brooklyn College 1986”. As expressed by Marcuse anti-intellectualism serves as an instrument and acceptance of oppression (Kellner 34). The status quo remains unchallenged and in fact intellectualism is deemed dangerous. Therefore, critical dialogue is susceptive to being considered ‘oppressive’ and oddly enough misleading.
From Marcuse’s “Lecture on Higher Education and Politics at Berkeley College 1975,” he shares something relevant and interesting,
The sweep of psychology today has been made into a powerful means of de-politization. It wants us to become sane in a sick society, to look for fulfillment in a society which denies fulfillment, by escaping from this society. The concern with our subjectivity, which remains a private affair, private emancipation, remains also self-defeating. The “identity” searched for (and perhaps found) on this way would still be one of alienation. The identity thus found would be spurious. Emancipation would become one huge Ego trip, where the Ego is lost already at the point of departure. (41)
It seems Marcuse’s critique of contemporary psychology is fueled by the intellectualism in the first lecture. If we are to take Marcuse’s critique seriously, then it will become clear. Anti-intellectualism has the capacity to deem any critical dialogue or critical pedagogy as radical and dangerous. Intellectualism undermines the status quo. If this is so, then in psychology, the aim to become sane in a sick society is veiled quite nicely. With anti-intellectualism in place we never conclude that it is the society that is making us sick — that society is the proper diagnosis for our ills! Oddly enough we cure our pains through escaping from society perhaps through medication or through the affect of pleasure through consumption. Therefore, anti-intellectualism and current practices within psychology feed off one another.
The hope is for one not to choose to be apathetic in the face of all of this.
Kellner, Douglas. Marcuse’s Challenge to Education. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009.