“Desktop Militants” and Public Intellectuals
The social opposition is defined by public action: the presence of collectivities in political meetings, individuals speaking at public meetings, activists marching in public squares, militant trade unionists confronting employers, poor people demanding sites for housing and public services from public authorities…
To address an active assembled public meeting, to formulate ideas, programs and propose programs and strategies through political action defines the role of the public intellectual.
To sit at a desk in an office, in splendid isolation, sending out five manifestos per minute defines a “desktop militant”.
It is a form pseudo-militancy that isolates the word from the deed.
Desktop “militancy” is an act of verbal inaction, of inconsequential “activism”, a make-believe revolution of the mind.
The exchange of internet communications becomes a political act when it engages in public social movements that challenge power.
By necessity that involves risks for the public intellectual: of police assaults in public spaces and economic reprisals in the private sphere.
The desktop “activists” risk nothing and accomplish little.
The public intellectual links the private discontents of individuals to the social activism of the collectivity.
The academic critic comes to a site of action, speaks and returns to their academic office.
The public intellectual speaks and sustains a long-term political educational commitment with the social opposition in the public sphere via the internet and in face to face daily encounters.