Tag: public intellectuals

  • What the fuck!? The great question of our age

    I really liked this piece David Roberts on Vox, summarising Ezra Klein on the transformation of journalism. This is the context in which there’s a great unexplored potential for public sociology, as I’ve tried to argue: The internet changed all that. There are no longer supply constraints — it is trivially cheap and easy to publish something on […]

  • The intellectual sclerosis of the superstar intellectual

    There’s a fascinating and honest account in Daniel Drezner’s The Ideas Industry, reflecting on his own growing celebrity and the lethal challenges which have come with it. This is something I’ve often wondered about, particularly in relation to how widely one reads and the circle of people one engages with. From pg 247: Furthermore, there […]

  • The incredible shrinking scope of the celebrity intellectual

    What is it like to be an celebrity intellectual? I thought this was an admirably honest answer by Yuval Noah Harari to the question of how fame has changed his life. It seems obvious he would be far from alone in this experience, suggesting we could reflect on it as symptomatic of knowledge production by celebrity intellectuals […]

  • What does the case of Jeffery Sachs tell us about the accelerated academy?

    The Idealist by Nina Monk, cited by Daniel Drezner in the Ideas Industry, presents a vivid account of the frantic pace at which the economist Jeffery Sachs has tended to work. This intensified work, fitting as much action as possible into each day, will appear to his detractors as a desperate lust for influence. His […]

  • Public Intellectuals and the Shock Doctrine

    In the last year, I’ve been preoccupied by the relationship between periods of political flux and public intellectualism. These aren’t longer term processes, in which the coordinates of an established consensus begin to disintegrate, but rather short term periods of intense public confusion e.g. the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote or the shock Labour result in […]

  • Public intellectuals as guides to the political flux, Or, “who can tell us what the fuck is going on?”

    In the last couple of days, I’ve been reading The Candidate by Alex Nunns. It’s a detailed and insightful account of Corbyn’s ascent to the leadership of the Labour party and the conditions which made this possible. After the election, it can also be read as as an analysis of broader conditions which might facilitate […]

  • What’s the difference between academia and politics?

    In his wonderful memoir, Adults In The Room, Yanis Varoufakis reflects on the frustrations of politics and how they compare to academia. From loc 5504: Possibly because of my academic background, this was the Brussels experience I least expected and found most frustrating. In academia one gets used to having one’s thesis torn apart, sometimes with little decorum; […]

  • Will social media lead to the return of the general intellectual?

    In his detailed study of Sartre’s rise to prominence as an authoritative public intellectual, Patrick Baert argues that the general intellectualism embodied by Sartre depended upon social conditions which no longer obtain. Such intellectuals “address a wide range of subjects without being experts as such” and speak “at, rather than with, their audience” (pg. 185). […]

  • “A new kind of intellectual”: Pierre Bourdieu’s tribute to Michel Foucault

    After Michel Foucault died in 1984 at the age of fifty-seven, Pierre Bourdieu wrote a tribute in Le Monde, reflecting on his life and what could be learned from it. Bourdieu attributed to his former colleague at the Collège de France a great consistency in his intellectual work, much more than is often assumed: The consistency of an […]

  • The Piketty Panic and the Making of Intellectual Superstars

    I wrote last week about the rapidly emerging discourse of Piketty having won the argument. I’m somewhat suspicious of it, largely because I read enough postmodernism at an impressionable time in my life to believe that people don’t win arguments in this way. Having said this, I’m actually reading the book now and it is clearly something […]

  • The making of intellectual superstars

    Is this the first time a 640 page hardback book about economics has been a “#1 Best Seller” on Amazon? I suspect so. It does sound like an excellent book. I’ll almost certainly read it once it’s out in paperback. But I’m intuitively suspicious of the discourse surrounding the book and the rapidity with which Piketty has […]