Intellectual life seems to breed snobbery as a central element of its petty-bourgeois class-consciousness. It is at work in relation to those outside the class fraction of intellectuals – ‘I simply cannot understand how anyone would be able to talk with someone who doesn’t read’; ‘what’s the definition of someone without a fistful of degrees? Homo Stupidicus’; and so on. Knowing, deep down, that we are marginal at best to the workings of society and politics, yet insisting that we are of the ‘cultural elite’ is a decidedly unhealthy element of that consciousness.
And it is at work among intellectuals themselves, at times to a refined degree. The snob will opine that such and such a doctorate can’t be so good, since, well, you know, that ‘university’ has a nerve to call itself one at all. A snobbish selection committee will simply assume that some sociopath with congenital fascism from a ‘well-known’ institution is better than the brilliant applicant from the University of Woop-Woop. The snob assumes the birthright of a position at a university that meets his own high standing in the intellectual world, for, after all, the snobs at this beacon of light in the midst of the new dark ages will appoint only snobs, won’t they? But if the snob finds, to her unending horror, that she does actually scrape into a position as the aforesaid University of Woop-Woop, then she will let it loudly be known that it was all a mistake, that she will be gone soon enough, that she will simply kill herself if she has to stay another minute.
And the snob assumes that the mark intellectual prowess is the fancy title you may accrue, such as the Jack the Ripper Distinguished Professor of Toe-Cutting and Other Sundry Skills for Winning Friends and Influencing People. Or the number of letters one may place after one’s name, such as DSO (Dick Shot Off), OBE (Order of Bull and Excrement), RAPA (…). At any gathering, in any correspondence, the snob will introduce people only by means of their esteemed titles and pendulous acronyms. Of course, the snob reads articles only from mainstream, reputable, established journals, since that’s where one finds ideas that are ‘ground-breaking’ will never challenge the status quo.