November 11, 2003
Foucault on what intellectuals do

From an interview with Michel Foucault, quoted on pages 317-18 of David Macey's The Lives of Michel Foucault

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The workers don't need intellectuals to tell them what they are doing; they know perfectly well what they are doing. In my view, the intellectual is the guy who is plugged in to the information network, not the production network. He can make his voice heard. He can write in the newspapers, give his point of view. He is also plugged into an older information network. He has the knowledge acquired by reading a certain number of books, knowledge which other people do not have at their direct disposal. His role is therefore not to shape a working-class consciousness, as that consciousness already exists, but to allow that consciousness, that working class knowledge, to enter the information system... The intellectual's knowledge is always partial compared to working-class knowledge. What we know about the history of French society is very partial, compared to the massive experience that the working class has.

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