Saturday, May 3, 2008

Foreign Policy's Top 100 Public Intellectuals

Collect 'em all!

Sins of Omission:
  • Eric Hobsbawm
  • Alain Badiou
  • Paul Virilio
  • Giorgio Agamben
  • Fredric Jameson
  • Chantal Mouffe
  • Ernesto Laclau
  • Julia Kristeva
  • Antonio Negri
  • Etienne Balibar
  • David Harvey
  • Michael Mann (the sociologist, not the director
  • Jean-Luc Nancy
  • Thomas Pynchon
  • Philip Glass
  • Steve Reich
  • Arthur Danto
  • Grigori Perlman
  • Arne Naess
  • Stanley Cavell
  • David Bromwich
  • C.A. Bayly
  • Don DeLillo
  • David Foster Wallace
  • Terry Eagleton
  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
  • Perry Anderson

Sins of Comission:
  • Pope Benedict XVI
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • Frank Fukuyama
  • Niall Ferguson
  • Umberto Eco
  • Samuel Huntington
  • Robert Kagan
  • Paul Krugman
  • Bernard Lewis
  • Salman Rushdie
  • David Petraeus

Okay, looking at my two lists, I think I've given a fairly good idea of where my ideological commitments lie, and while I understand that FP is not the most Leftist-friendly magazine, for God's sake, their roster of "Public Intellectuals" reads like a Who's Who of the Enablers of the Iraq war, a Coalition of the Eagerly Willing. (Not all those I pointed out are of this sort, obviously—Rushdie, for instance, is just a bad novelist.)

I mean really, how can we possibly validate these men as public intellectuals when their ideas have led to the catastrophe that is the American invasion and occupation of Iraq? The fact that these men were ever recognized as intellectuals speaks volumes about the impoverished state of the Anglo-American intelligentsia, the fact that they are still recognized as such suggests that no one has come to terms with how much of an intellectual failure Iraq is, not just a political or tactical disaster. Iraq was not just the result of poor (or no) planning or even just a cavalier blindness to the "otherness" of another part of the world. No, the fundamental philosophical ideas that launched our incursion into Iraq were completely unsound, remnants of a Nietzscheanized Hegelianism. To fail to understand how completely deficient this philosophy's account of such basic things as causality, difference, history, and identity is and remains is to beg for a repetition of the errors we see so vividly in Iraq.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They clearly need a definition of the term "public intellectual." There are many discussions on this term which would easily eliminate at least half of their candidates!