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Taking It BigC. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals$
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Stanley Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231135412

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231135412.001.0001

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What Is a Political Intellectual?

What Is a Political Intellectual?

(p.187) 7 What Is a Political Intellectual?
Taking It Big

Stanley Aronowitz

Columbia University Press

This chapter explains the definition of a political intellectual. The political intellectual is a thinker who persists in writing, speaking, and teaching unauthorized ideas. This, almost always, is a political act, because they are challenging the hegemony of those in power at the discursive and institutional levels. In most cases, this person is obliged to employ the strategy of actively seeking to reach, or even create, a public among whose members will be some who will join in disseminating those ideas. The political intellectual also assumes the role of tribune: his mission was to expose the distortions, half-truths, and outright lies that were the steady diet offered by official propaganda. Moreover, the political intellectual is one who offers ruthless criticism of the way we live. For Mills, becoming a political intellectual was, first and foremost, a moral obligation to the self as much as to society.

Keywords:   propaganda, political intellectuals, radicals, tribune, moral obligation

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