Can Warszawa get a little light through the layers of fungal punning-as-ersatz-argument behind which the anti-intellectual pseudo-intellectuals cower? Can he elicit a rational, to the point, non-ad hominem reply from these devoted anti-intellectuals who declare themselves unable to know or understand anything and yet simultaneously, without tongue in cheek, assert their monopoly on intellect?
It may be hopeless; the assault on "symbolic efficiency" in the academy is too important to capital and too well rewarded to be discouraged by reason or an appeal to political commitments.
Here's Carlo Ginzburg's view of the state of affairs:
We recognise easily in this attitude [certain responses to negationism,] the radical rejection of positivism that has inspired scholars for several decades, especially Americans, as much in the domain of the human sciences as in that of literature. If everything is in the last instance narration, if every narrative can be judged in the same manner true or false - or if you prefer "true" in inverted commas - the only criterion for making distinctions between different narratives derives from the respective effects. I can't go into here the profound roots of this so prevalent sceptical attitude, based on a notion of rhetoric that not only ignores any idea of proof but opposes itself to it: a rhetoric operating under the sign not of Aristotle but of Nietzsche. I only want to remark that the sceptical response with regard to the denial of the [Nazi] genocide has stirred in American academic circles a certain disquiet: one has the impression that a boundary has been crossed, and one can't alleviate the disquiet by the division, at bottom so convenient, between the rejection of the negationist proposals at the moral and political level, and the non-acceptance of them on the intellectual level. It's not the negationist proposals themselves that are troubling; it is the weakness of certain responses to negationism. Over the past few years, we've inquired several times into this; I am thinking of the colloqium in Los Angeles organised by Saul Friedländer, Probing the Limits of Representation, but also of numerous conferences which took place, from Chicago to Berlin, on the notion of proof. These are little symptoms which may announce a change in the intellectual climate
This climate is manufactured. Surely everyone has to face at some time in life the realisation that Daddy NYTimes is not realiable. Generations of adult dissidents have gotten through this seperation from the Paper of Record without mental collapse - Howard Zinn, Angela Davis, Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, the list is long. But this generation is reverting to infancy rather than accept that it is because Daddy NYTimes doesn't love you that he does not feed you all the truth that's fit to print and save you the trouble of thinking for yourself. He has his own agenda.
But it is indeed disconcerting to see chronological adults react to this unavoidable awareness with fears for their sanity; it is disturbing to see this simple fact of life in mediatised capitalism precipitate announcements of the total collapse of the disillusioned's capacity for judgement. All this frenzied boastful confusion and bewilderment is an extreme, no doubt psychoanalysable, and cowardly, reaction to the discovery that Authority can lie and that one has to think without Daddy's help and even without his approval. In the US, grown men and women faced with the obvious mendacity of mass media are stricken with a degree of terror that can only be accounted for by a failure of the attainment of basic maturity, and go into denial about Daddy Mass Media's untruthfulness and deceitfulness, insisting instead that the non-correspondence between Daddy's assertions and reality must come about because both language and the human intellects which produce it do not function well anymore. It is, simply, a refusal to grow up, to remove the training wheels from the brain and think without Big BrOther. (It is not that Daddy is lying to you. Daddy still loves you, but can't be informed, can't fact check, can't evaluate evidence, can't tell you the truth, can't tell you what to think; thought and communication itself have degraded to the point of malfunction, and this inexplicable stormy weather in the symbolic order is why it may seem to you that Daddy neither approves of you, nor is quite attached to your wellbeing, and even sometimes may seem to knowingly mislead you, for sinister ends.)