Albert Einstein’s “ For an Organization of Intellectual Workers” is an essay that was published in Einstein’s book, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950). It was originally sent to the National Wartime Conference in May, 1944. (From upte.org)
For An Organization of Intellectual Workers
by Albert Einstein
I consider it important, indeed urgently necessary, for intellectual workers to get together, both to protect their own economic status and also, generally speaking, to secure their influence in the political field.
On the first-mentioned, the economic side, the working class may serve us as a model: they have succeeded, at least to some extent, in protecting their economic interests. We can learn from them too how this problem can be solved by the method of organization. And also, we can learn from them what is our gravest danger, which we ourselves must seek to avoid: the weakening through inner dissensions, which, when things reach that point, make cooperation difficult and result in quarrels between the constituent groups.
But again, we can also learn from the workers that limitation to immediate economic aims, to the exclusion of all political goals and effective action, will not suffice either. In this respect, the working classes in this country have only begun their development. It is inevitable, considering the progressive centralization of production, that the economic and the political struggle should become more and more closely interwoven, the political factor continually growing in significance in the process. In the meantime, the intellectual worker, due to his lack of organization, is less well protected against arbitrariness and exploitation than a member of any other calling.
But intellectual workers should unite, not only in their own interest but also and no less importantly in the interest of society as a whole. For division among intellectuals has been partly to blame for the fact that the special parts and the experience which are the birthright of these groups have so seldom been made available for political aims. In their room, political ambition and desire for profit almost exclusively determine events, instead of professional knowledge and judgement based on objective thinking.
An organization of intellectual workers can have the greatest significance for society as a whole by influencing public opinion through publicity and education. Indeed it is its proper task to defend academic freedom, without which a healthy development of democracy is impossible.
An outstandingly important task for an organization of intellectual workers at the present moment is to fight for the establishment of a supranational political force as a protection against fresh wars of aggression. It seems to me that the working out with a view to selection of a particular plan for an international government should not, at the present moment, be our chief aim. For if there existed, among the majority of citizens, the firm intention of establishing international security, the technique of giving shape to such an instrument would not present an all-too-difficult problem. What is lacking in the majority is the conviction, founded on clear thinking, that there is no other means of permanently avoiding catastrophes like the present one. In the organization and promotion of enlightenment on this subject, I see the most important service which an organization of intellectual workers.
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