The tendency to describe intellectuals as a single coherent group papers over these experiences of exploitation, and conceals the very real struggles that condition intellectual production. The antagonisms of the institutions of knowledge are resolved into a myth of unity, in which all knowledge workers – whatever their labor conditions, requirements of social reproduction, and so forth – are part of a common community, one whose pursuits are so pure they transcend all differences.
In a certain way, we have to return to the experiences of the industrializers. Their guiding idea – that militants, no matter how radical, would be ineffective if they weren’t anchored to the real struggles of other workers – has to be taken seriously. But the question for us today is not how we can support the struggles of the most “advanced workers,” or how we can best recruit them to our vanguard parties, but how we can link up with other struggles outide the university in a way that preserves the distinctness, recognizes the strategic value, and respects the specific needs of all these different struggles, including our own.