Mikhail Shvydkoy: «Education of modern intellectual – what should he be like?»

Михаил Швыдкой
Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Андрей Кучеренко


– The very concept of «an intellectual» was formed in the second half of the nineteenth century, when raznochintsy came out into the arena. For a long time, it was believed that this suspicious stratum of community, is quite judgmental to the surrounding world and authorities. First of all, because they are more educated than others and want to think wider than others.

But the intelligentsia is not always in opposition. An intellectual is not just an educated person, but also a spiritually developed person. The history of the twentieth century suggests that his key feature is emotional generosity.

If you do not understand others, cannot listen and empathize, it is very difficult to consider yourself being an intellectual. This requires constant self-improvement, huge internal work, but it is necessary.

The slogan of the French Revolution is that all people are equal, and therefore we must love each other. But life is different. We are all different. We have different views on life, we belong to different faiths, cultures, and we are brought up in different societies. But we must, at a minimum, understand each other.

The other person is difficult to understand, he has habits that annoy you, values that are not close to you. It is the intelligence, the desire to understand the causes of the actions of a person, his motivation allows you to be constructive, reasonably analyze and evaluate what is going around.

Schoppenhauer said: «to be proud of your nation is like being proud that you were born on Tuesday». Of course, it is necessary to be a patriot, but one must also remember that people living in other countries are just as proud of their nation as you are with yours.


– The world faced the most serious crisis of democracy, humanism, such fundamental values as human rights, freedom of thought, which were always important for the intellectual. Democracy is probably the best form of government. But we must not forget that it was exactly this political regime that existed in Germany, when Hitler came to power.

Today, many are ready to exchange some of the freedoms for security. This trend became apparent after the terrorist attack in the US in 2001. It changed the attitude of people to a number of constitutional freedoms.

Перед нами вновь встали вопросы, которые казались окончательно решенными еще в ХIХ-ХХ веках. Например, что важнее: комфорт и безопасность или свобода? Подобные вопросы будут вставать перед вами каждый день. И если гнать их от себя, то стать интеллигентом невозможно.


– The older generation often reproaches the youth for being poorly educated, like young people do not know many historical characters, do not remember important historical dates. But, generally speaking, it is not necessary to know much today. You can click the button on the computer and in 5 minutes find out all that is needed. We used to spend a lot of time on this before - sat in the reading rooms, rummaged through the reference books. now everything is simpler.

From the other hand the availability of information raises a problem – a lot of false knowledge has appeared. It is not less than in the Middle Ages. To live in a myth is simple, convenient, but dangerous. Your whole world can be instantly destroyed. We

lived for a long time in the myth of the USSR, and when faced with the reality of capitalism, we were not ready for it. Our socialist nobility played a cruel joke on us.

You can object: for example, a third of people believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth. What’s wrong with that? These people are good taxpayers and family men, they do not cross the road on a red light. All right, but the problem is different. If such a person wants to build a spacecraft, then it will not work. He can never make the right calculations.


– The world has become completely different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago. During the first 14 years of the 21st century, we received as much new knowledge as for the entire twentieth century. By the end of the century, we will receive this amount of information in a week.

There are definitely things that change gradually. For example, an internal combustion engine. For the last hundred years, of course, it has become more perfect, but in essence it remained the same, just as it used to be in the first Ford cars. At the same time, more and more inventions are emerging, undamentally changing our lives.

Today each of us has a mobile phone, everyone is always in touch. no science fiction writer has ever written about this before. The ability to adapt to the realities of a rapidly changing world is becoming a key problem of a modern man. Someone can keep up with new trends, some cannot.


– I do not really believe that there are values that exist without a man. It is a man who brings humanism to the world. History teaches that only societies that survive, are the ones where sick children and elderly people are not killed for being useless.

Those who try to leave only active people have no future. It is the humanism that allows humanity to survive.

Being kind-hearted to other people is difficult. Sometimes the first reaction is irritation and rejection. It is necessary to cultivate the ability to listen and be kind. I do not believe in the success of acid people. Success can only be for those who are open to the world and benevolent. Sometimes a sincere smile requires enormous effort, but in some ways this is a sign of intelligence