Mind vs. Money: The War Between Intellectuals and Capitalism
By Alan S. Kahan
New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2010.
Pp. ix, 302. $39.95 cloth.
Are intellectuals, as Alan Kahan suggests in this excellent book Mind vs. Money, at war with capitalism? Certainly he is right that for "the past 150 years, numerous Western intellectuals have trumpeted their contempt for capitalism and capitalists" (p. 3). Why have they done so? In answering, Kahan appeals principally to values and psychology: intellectuals hold different values from those that prevail under capitalism, and their method of thought is largely exclusive to themselves.
Intellectuals, he tells us, try to provide reasons for their views and values. "Intellectuals, whether they speak English, French, or German, use a special kind of language: careful critical discourse (CCD). In CCD, if you say something, you must be prepared to prove it by giving reasons, not by appeals to higher authority .... If you don't talk right, intellectuals will look down on you because you are not using CCD to justify your actions or beliefs" (pp. 7-8).
But why should thinking critically lead to hostility to capitalism? Kahan responds that thinkers naturally value their own activity more than the occupations of their less cerebral brethren. In particular, from the time of the ancient Greeks, thinkers have looked down on money making. Kahan distinguishes three …