The History of Modern Intellectuals in 172 Words
A self-conscious concern with alienation, far from being peculiar to American intellectuals in our time, has been a major theme in the life of the intellectual communities of the Western world for almost two centuries. In earlier ages, when the life and work of intellectuals had been bound up with the Church or the aristrocracy or both, consistent alienation from society was rare. But the development of modern society, from the eighteeth century onwards, created a new set of material and social conditions and a new kind of consciousness. Everywhere in the Western world, the ugliness, materialism, and ruthless human exploitation of early modern capitalism affronted sensitive minds. The end of the system of patronage and the development of a market place for ideas and art brought artists and intellectuals into a sharp and often uncomfortable confrontation with the mind of the middle class. In various ways intellectuals rebelled against the conditions of the new bourgeois world — in romantic assertions of the individual against society, in bohemian solidarity, in political radicalism.
Richard Hofstadter: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. (Vintage 1963, repr 2004; p 398.)