Public lecture
04 Jul 2023 · 5.30 pm

Is the Ultra-Right Anti-Intellectual? Reflections on the Contemporary Intellectual

Venue: Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, 10117 Berlin, Salle Germain Tillion, 7th floor
Organized by Bernardo Bianchi (Centre Marc Bloch/Universidade de São Paulo), Oliver Precht (ZfL)

Lecture by Jorge Chaloub with an introduction by Bernardo Bianchi and Oliver Precht

The world-wide expansion of ultra-right movements is often correlated with a perceived rise in anti-intellectual sentiment. Undoubtedly, part of the success of the ultra-right is due to a rhetoric steeped in radical criticism of the status quo. One of the main strategies of the ultra-right is to portray an intellectual hegemony of the left in certain institutions, such as the university or the traditional press. Yet, the question is more complicated.

Not only is the figure of the intellectual central to the ultra-right, but the public use of arguments and strategies typically associated with the figure of the intellectual has been central to the growing political influence of the ultra-right. The idea of a natural divorce between the new ultra-right and the intelligentsia misses key aspects of the political and intellectual performance of some of the key players in the field. The argument that the ultra-right is anti-intellectual is usually linked to a normative concept of the intellectual that somehow connects it to the expansions of democratic practices and, finally, to the idea of a natural “enlightenment” of the public sphere.

In his talk, Jorge Chaloub will take the opposite path, seeking to understand how intellectual personas and practices have contributed to the structuring of the ultra-right field in Brazil and beyond. A stronger understanding of the role and self-image of the right-wing intellectual will also advance the analysis of the post-2013 democratic crisis in Brazil– and similar crises around the world.


Jorge Chaloub is an associate professor at the Department of Political Science of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and holds a “Jovem Cientista do Nosso Estado” productivity fellowship from FAPERJ. His current research focuses on the political languages of the Brazilian right after 1945 and its relations with contemporary debates around the concept of the intellectual.

Bernardo Bianchi is visiting professor at the Universidade de São Paulo and associated researcher at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin.

Oliver Precht is a postdoctoral researcher at the ZfL with the project Marx in France. The Self-Determination of French Theory (1945–1995).


The event is part of the AvH project Paradoxes of Emancipation, a collaboration between the Universidade de São Paulo and the Centre Marc Bloch.