Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Dead Cult Leader Makes A Current List Of Overrated Thinkers

The New Republic has published a list overrated public intellectuals, including one dead "thinker."  The list includes some easy targets:  politicians Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan, former New York Times columnist Frank Rich, and CNN's Fareed Zakaria.  It includes one person who had previously been unknown to me: Parag Khanna who is
“a frequent speaker at international conferences” who briefs “corporations on global trends, systemic risks and emerging market strategies.” He has hosted an MTV show, was the first video blogger at ForeignPolicy.com, and directs something called the “Hybrid Reality Institute.” His recent book is actually called How to Run the World. It is a self-congratulatory anthology of clichés and platitudes—the life of the mind, Davos-style.
The list also includes Rachel Maddow,someone I had never consider in intellectual.  The list does not include Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, or the crew from Fox & Friends.  These inclusions and exclusions leave open the question of whether it is worse to be an overrated thinker or not be considered a thinker under any circumstance.

My favorite inclusion on the list, however, is the dead thinker, Ayn Rand who
earned her presence on this list by the astonishing persistence of her theories, which seem to have attained particular volume as of late, receiving endorsement from everyone from American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks to Representative Paul Ryan (who supposedly requires his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged) to Wall Street Journal economics writer Stephen Moore (“‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years,” he wrote). Despite the fact that Rand’s worldview is a crackpot Manicheanism, in which the world is divided between virtuous, productive individuals and lazy parasites, Rand’s hold on American conservatism continues to grow, as if real thinking is ever compatible with a cult.  (Emphasis mine for any of my Christian brothers and sisters who might erroneously believe she's compatible with Christianity)

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