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What words could be used as antonyms of intelligentsia?

The author of the book I am editing chose to use the word "unintelligentsia" in order to emphasise the (assumed) unintelligent or uncultured nature of the lower classes. I am seeking alternative antonyms.

The sentence in question, in reference to a popular TV show involving legal cases:

He wisely decided that watching the {unintelligentsia} being scolded by a cranky old lady was the better choice.

The author's explanation of why he chose to use unintelligentsia:

My use of the word unintelligentsia was meant to be playful. In the same way that Intelligentsia isn’t a pejorative, per se, but is often used as one, Unintelligentsia can be used and argued that it’s a neutral word. Although no one will believe you.

Proletariat might be suitable if you take the word literally, but when you’re using the word as a subtle insult, then you need a different antonym. Pleb is closer, but it’s definitely derogatory and doesn’t carry any sense of the group having their own culture.

So, in summary, I was looking for a word that isn’t overtly derogatory, and that describes a class of people that have (1) a shallow culture, and (2) a sense that being uneducated makes them, in some way, superior to well-educated people.

Example sentence:

I wouldn't want to socialise with anyone from the {antonym of intelligentsia}; they're too unintelligent and uncultured for me

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    Request for clarification: By the unintelligentsia, do you mean the uncultured of all economic classes, or do you mean only the uncultured of the lower economic classes? There are many uncultured people who are not members of the proletariat or the masses. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Aug 22 '18 at 23:58
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there are two points that need clarification -- see my comment and the comment of sumelic. When these comments are addressed, I will vote to reopen. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Aug 23 '18 at 0:02
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    Can you clarify exactly what you are looking for? Is this with respect to theoretical Marxism, or is it for a particular society (eg current European, ancient Sparta), or what? And by 'opposite' do you mean literally opposed in adversarial life situations (like two people running for office), or do you mean all those people who are not the intellectual elite (which would include the middle people who are neither here nor there), or do you mean only those who are all the way on the other side with contrary aspects? – Mitch Aug 23 '18 at 12:52
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    Presumably, the author that used the word 'unintelligentsia' wasn't talking about the lower classes (the lower socio-economic classes) or the complement of those elite thought leaders (academics, think-tanks, goverment researchers) which would mean absolutely everybody else, but rather the author intended a small group, those who are actively anti-intellectual, those who actively engage in specious, data-poor arguments. Or maybe the uninformed masses? Who knows? Actually, you do because you're reading that author. Can you tell us with more context? – Mitch Aug 23 '18 at 13:01
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"idiocracy" is the term coined by cult director Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, Office Space) in his 2006 film of that name. Wikipedia described it as:

a dystopian society where anti-intellectualism and commercialism have run rampant, and which is devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights

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    @sumelic: But the question title asks "The opposite of “intelligentsia”, not "Has anyone come across this word "unintelligentsia" as the opposite of intelligentsia?"; which I interpreted as subordinate to the question, and the OP's suggested answer. Please edit the title as you see fit. – smci Aug 22 '18 at 23:57
  • @sumelic: The question title does articulate a question. If the OP was unclear and asked a different (and incompatible) question in the details (as happens on SO/SE), take it up with them, not me; or edit it yourself. – smci Aug 22 '18 at 23:59
  • @sumelic: That's incorrect. Question marks are routinely omitted on SO, and here are examples 1, 2, 3. Certainly "The opposite of “intelligentsia”?" would be a question. – smci Aug 23 '18 at 0:05
  • Yes, that is how I interpreted the question, as well. It's asking for the opposite of "intelligentsia." It in the details below poses "unintelligentsia" as a possibility, a possibility that the asker is uncertain of, even, but the question itself is asking for antonyms. – Billy Aug 24 '18 at 18:17
  • By the way, maybe "idiocrats" instead. If "idiocracy" stands for an ideology, like "democracy" or "autocracy," while "intelligentsia" doesn't but instead stands for a group of people, then I'd say you'd have to use a form of the word "idiocracy" that doesn't denote an ideology but rather denotes its adherents, i.e., "idiocrats." – Billy Aug 24 '18 at 18:30
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Other potential words are

hoi polloi (PLURAL NOUN) Oxford Dictionaries

:derogatory

The masses; the common people.

"avoid mixing with the hoi polloi."

the Multitude Oxford Dictionaries

The mass of ordinary people without power or influence.

"placing ultimate political power in the hands of the multitude."

  • Also, using "the hoi polloi" is technically redundant. "hoi" means "the" and "polloi" means "many". – peaceoutside Aug 22 '18 at 23:58
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  • @peaceoutside We're using it in English, however, so like any loanword, it will acquire English conventions as it becomes assimilated. The Milky Way Galaxy is also technically redundant, as is the Sahara Desert, Timor Leste, and famously, the La Brea Tar Pits. – choster Aug 23 '18 at 0:59
  • @peaceoutside see 'the La Alhambra' – Mitch Aug 23 '18 at 11:21
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    Please don't just nominate words and then link to copied text. You still have to write your own answer, in your words, with an explanation of why you think this is a suitable answer to the request. We're trying to build up a library of expert answers for future visitors, and that requires original content. – tchrist Aug 24 '18 at 0:56
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Yes, Karl Marx has. He called the opposite of the "intelligentsia," or "literati," the "proletariat." The adjective is "proletarian."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proletariat

The proletariat is often at odds with the intelligentsia in a battle over being right or being strong, the latter being attributed to the proletariat. The proletariat position is that at the end of the day, survival depends on being strong, not being right. Moreover, the proletariat become very oppositional to education and the educated classes and suggest that being "right" is established through argument, and because the educated are educated at winning arguments and because people can and very often do win arguments without actually being right based solely on that learned skill, being "right" isn't all it's trumped up to be. Essentially, the proletariat position is that their rights are being trampled simply because they are being out-argued by the educated classes that are skilled at arguing.

Anyway, the opposite of the intelligentsia is the proletariat. Here's an example of the two terms being used in juxtaposition:

The members of the Tsarist-era intelligentsia who remained in Bolshevik Russia (the USSR) were proletarianized (Wikipedia).

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    I don't believe that is entirely accurate. From Wikipaedia: In Russia, the Bolsheviks did not consider the status class of the intelligentsiya to be a true social class, as defined in Marxist philosophy. In that time, the Bolsheviks used the Russian word prosloyka (stratum) to identify and define the intelligentsia as a separating layer without an inherent class character. ... – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Aug 22 '18 at 17:30
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    ... In the creation of post-monarchic Russia, Lenin was firmly critical of the class character of the intelligentsia, commending the growth of "the intellectual forces of the workers and the peasants" and asserting that the "bourgeoisie and their accomplices", regardless of the depth of their education, were "lackeys of capital". It is rather the bourgeoisie and capitalists who were the opposite of the proletariat. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Aug 22 '18 at 17:31
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    How Proletariat can be possible antonym for intelligentsia. M-W and other dictionaries defines it as: the laboring class or the lowest social or economic class of a community. I am surprised. – Ubi hatt Aug 22 '18 at 18:40
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    You are making a logical fallacy. Even if proletariat is opposed to intelligentsia, this doesn't mean that all uncultured classes are proletariat. Uneducated traders, business owners and even priests would never fall into this category. – IMil Aug 23 '18 at 3:33
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    Proletariat in the proper Marxist sense doesn't even imply that it is a lower class. (Indeed, given the entire thrust of Marxism, how could it?) Rather, the proletariat is strictly defined by its relationship to the societal mode of production. Also, as a member of the intelligentsia himself (albeit a rather beggarly one), Marx could hardly see the intelligentsia as necessarily opposed to the proletariat, or vice versa. Moreover, none of the several positions attributed in this answer to the proletariat (meaning 'Marxists'?) are in any way accurate - and that's putting it kindly. – tmgr Aug 23 '18 at 9:47
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The "illiterati":

People who are not well educated or well informed about a particular subject or sphere of activity.

or the "uneducated" would probably fit what you mean. If you wanted to be Marxian about it, I guess it's possible to use "lumpenproletariat" (lumpenproles for short). The usage of "proletariat" by itself as suggested here is something of a stretch...

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unintelligentsia

The OED does not list usage of unintelligentsia, but does for (the) unintelligent.

BUT, a search of Google Books shows a number of usages.

Here is just one of such:

Shaw contested, in the 1890s

... that numerous body that may be called the Unintelligentsia was as unconscious of Ibsen as of any other political influence:

(Ibsen and the Irish Revival, by Irina Ruppo Malone, p. 75)

Especially in literary use, I see no reason not to use it.

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ignorati

(slang, derogatory) The wilfully ignorant; those who choose to ignore inconvenient facts or make public claims based on falsehoods. blend of ignorant +‎ literati

This term captures well the idea of "people that have (1) a shallow culture, and (2) a sense that being uneducated makes them, in some way, superior to well-educated people" i.e. ignorant and proud of it. A Google search shows how it has been counterposed with intelligentsia:

Ignorati are becoming the new intellectual elite

This nation is well on its way to becoming an anti-intellectual wasteland ruled by the ignorati instead of the intelligentsia or the commonsentsia. We’ve produced a crop of “leaders” without the good sense to come in out of the rain. The Christine O’Donnells, Sarah Palins, Sharron Angles, and Michele Bachmanns of the world recoil at the mention of anything requiring more thought than their many bubbleheaded Tweets.

NY Times And Washington Post All But Abandon Specialized Climate Science Coverage

OK, I added the final sentence, but still this move is doubly head-exploding in a post-Sandy world where even the media elite now know they aren’t free from the ravages of climate change. And again, we’ve only seen the impact of slightly more than a degree Fahrenheit of warming — we’re all but certain to see at least 5 times as much warming this century as we did last century, especially if the ignorati (not-so-intelligentsia?) gag themselves on the greatest story never told.

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rabble might fit.

(the rabble) Ordinary people, especially when regarded as socially inferior or uncouth.

the British feel no compunction about ushering the gentry into the coach and packing the rabble off to debtor's prison

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    Please don't just nominate words and then link to copied text. You still have to write your own answer, in your words, with an explanation of why you think this is a suitable answer to the request. We're trying to build up a library of expert answers for future visitors, and that requires original content not just dictionary spam. – tchrist Aug 24 '18 at 0:56
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Lowbrow:

of, relating to, or suitable for a person with little taste or intellectual interest · a lowbrow horror movie

lowbrow noun

(Merriam-Webster)

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    Please don't just nominate words and then link to copied text. You still have to write your own answer, in your words, with an explanation of why you think this is a suitable answer to the request. We're trying to build up a library of expert answers for future visitors, and that requires original content not just dictionary spam. – tchrist Aug 24 '18 at 0:56
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The OP is looking for a word that isn’t overtly derogatory, and that describes a class of people that have (1) a shallow culture, and (2) a sense that being uneducated makes them, in some way, superior to well-educated people. (Emphasis added)

The requirement that the word not be overtly derogatory rules out a lot of candidate words and phrases. To mention a few:

The Great Unwashed

Know-Nothings

booboisie

Several words in other answers, but I won't point a finger

My candidate is a phrase: the common man. Merriam-Webster says:

the undistinguished commoner lacking class or rank distinction or special attributes

This is in fact a snobbish phrase, although more subtle than the ones above. Any word you use for the unintelligentsia will be snobbish; the word intelligentsia is itself snobbish. William Buckley is reported to have said, about intellectuals and government:

I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the telephone directory than by the Harvard University faculty.

Source

Of course, Buckley graduated from Yale, so he was biased.

The reason why the common man is suitable for the OP's purposes is that the intelligentsia go to so much effort to distinguish themselves from ordinary people and take so much pride in being extraordinary. And, of course, all the juicy words and phrases are ruled out because they are overtly derogatory.

As for the single word: not everything in the multiverse can be described by a single word, and this, I suspect, is one of them.

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