Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Picking the Top 5 Public Intellectuals

Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect need your help picking the top 5 public intellectuals working today. They've already picked 100, but they want you to pick the best 5. Here's my choices, not in order of influence:

  1. Paul Wolfowitz -- Neo-conservative extraordinaire that helped push and plan the failing Iraq War and now is head of the World Bank. He's the bizarro Chomsky in another dimension and I don't completely disagree with a foreign policy that pushes for democracy, sometimes militarily. Whether Bush was on the same page as Wolfowitz or just used his theory and strategy as justification for a strategic grab is up to debate.
  2. Noam Chomsky -- As the ubiquitous NYT's blurb asserts, "arguably the most important intellectual alive." His anarchist socialism has been a constant inspiration to me as well as millions of others.
  3. Jared Diamond -- His "Guns, Germs, and Steel," is a wonderful theory that shows technological improvements combined with geography and natural advantages allowed Europeans to conquer much of the known world. It's a meta-theory so obviously a lot is probably wrong in the specifics.
  4. Pope Benedict XVI -- While I think he's a religious zealot, an enabler of pedophile priests, and helping to ensure the spread of AIDS, he's undoubtedly one of the most important intellectuals in the world considering he can persuade people in Latin America and Africa that Catholicism is more important than modernity. And that's to his shame.
  5. Ali al-Sistani -- Iraqi Shia cleric that arguably wields the most power in Iraq and is integral to a peaceful resolution of the Sunni-Shia divide. If he's murdered or dies, expect full-blown civil war, unless you think that's already here.