Written for The Activists, hut I don't think I'll post it there; it's turned from a revolutionary speech into an examination of anti-intellectualism.

Our world is arguably pervaded by anti-intellectualism. Boys are taught to favour brawn over brains, while girls are raised from the cradle to be pretty and charming rather than intelligent. Politicians and the media push simple, populist views - apparently not thinking that the electorate is capable of understanding anything complex - while education has been steadily dumbed down over the years, to the point where some subjects are basically lessons in how to pass exams. Fewer young people read for pleasure, and even adults are worryingly poorly-read - a recent FDA report stated that most American adults read between seventh- and ninth-grade level. Intellectuals are portrayed as being out of touch with the world, their learning irrelevant.

What's worse is that the world of academia does indeed have many failings - for example, most papers are behind a paywall, available only to subscribers who may pay outrageous prices. Although open-access publications exist, they haven't replaced the journals. Black scientists are much less likely to get funding than white scientists, and there are too few women in hard sciences. I could go on, but it depresses me.

I wouldn't even be writing this were it not for the fact that I fear anti-intellectualism, not just in the world at large but also in the cause. Society at large cannot afford to be stupid - it has tragic consequences - but us even less so. We cannot afford to reject learning and academia, because as revolutionaries we want to change the world. It is our duty to look into how our changes will affect others, how we'll even make our changes - and to do that, we need to delve deep into facts.

Objectivity and rationality, those old tools of the academics, are not only used by dead white males - anyone can use them if they care to. I fiercely oppose the paywalls, the registrations, the subscriptions, the racism and sexism and classism still present in the academic world precisely because I believe its tools can - and should - be used by anyone.

But why would I choose objectivity and rationality above anything else? Shouldn't I know that they're subjective, capitalist notions? Why should I even bother with them when I have a revolution to bring about?

Firstly, although there are many (subjective) points of view in the world, some (objectively) work better than others. A point of view based on coolly examining the facts is probably better at uncovering and acting on truth than, say, a point of view based on emotion or unquestioning faith. Secondly, rationality and objectivity are not capitalist notions: they have been around since before capitalism and, should we preserve them, they will continue to be around long after capitalism falls. They can stand aside from capitalism, because they are not intrinsically tied to money-making - they are tied to truth-seeking.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, they are very powerful tools for figuring out what actions to take. Anyone trying to start a revolution will, of course, be making revolutionary changes - changes which will affect people around the world. If those changes are made lightly, or made on faith alone, there's a good chance something's been missed out and there will be needless bloodshed. Thinking things through requires the courage to doubt - and believe me, doubting is courageous - and the willingness to discard even a cherished idea if it would end up causing too much harm for too little benefit. It's not easy, but it's necessary, both to have a plan which works and a plan which works without killing and chaos in the streets. Both hurt our cause far more than any knowledge or learning could.

Intellectuals and the cool-headedness of academia still have a part to play in this revolution - in any revolution - because any major movement needs its thinkers to seed it, to support it and to carry it through. Intellectuals and academia do not serve the ruling elites, because knowledge and rationality are inherently subversive: the intellectual seeks the truth and uses the truth as a reference point, but the truth has no master - political or otherwise. Seekers after truth will not write propaganda for you, that is true, but neither will they blindly serve the establishment. They were the first who spoke truth to power and they will be the last, because they value the truth above any political ideology.

Academics may not seem powerful, but they are. Get them on your side while you can.