Foreign Policy’s “intellectuals” — the Hayekian kind?
On Reason‘s blog today, Michael C. Moynihan asks the question, “Does Yusuf al-Qaradawi Qualify as an Intellectual?” Moynihan was referring to al Qaradawi’s inclusion on Foreign Policy’s list of the top 100 public intellectuals:
It was rather surprising, then, to see that the rabble-rousing cleric referenced is the extremist Egyptian preacher and Al-Jazeera host Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Now I understand that by including al-Qaradawi on its list Foreign Policy isn’t endorsing the preacher’s views anymore than Time Magazine‘s Man of the Year gongs qualify as endorsements of Stalinism, Nazism, or, more recently, Putinism. It is, of course, merely an acknowledgement of his considerable influence in the Middle East. And while al-Qaradawi is undeniably an influental public figure, is he in any sense an “intellectual?” Because if he qualifies, I’m afraid that the folks at FP will have to start considering people like John Hagee (or the late, unlamented Jerry Falwell) on future lists.
As Moynihan notes, the FP list is pretty predictable. Not surprisingly it includes a lot of Harvard “intellectuals” and, of course, Al Gore. Indeed, one could say that many on the list fit Friedrich Hayek’s definition of intellectuals as “second hand dealers in ideas.”
A few on the list, though, are original thinkers, such as Bjorn Lomborg, George Ayittey, William Easterly, and Martin Wolf.