My Davos blacklist

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The Davos extravaganza is underway. In Davos every year the most powerful men (and the occasional woman) gather informally, to get to know each other, exchange points of view and broker deals. Some academics participate too. Clearly the powerful believe an academic presence gives them intellectual legitimacy. The atmosphere of the place is transformed from smoke-filled back-room to academic seminar.

I hate this kind of intellectual prostitution. Selling out and sucking up to power. I also hate academics who brag about going there. How pretentious! As though they mattered, as though anyone powerful actually listened to them! The power of an academic requires independence and a critical attitude, not this arsenine licking of red carpets.

I have a short blacklist of academics who participate in this Davos thing. The LSE portion of the list reads as follows:

  • Richard Sennett. He even writes about going to Davos in his books. A sure sign of an academic in decline.
  • David Held. Used to stop me in the staircase of the Government Department and tell me how important he is since he is invited to Davos every year. Yes, David, you are very, very important. Try writing a good book next, OK?
  • Tony Giddens. An academic with a history of sucking up to power. He too used to write good books once upon a time. Too bad his intellectual reputation got soiled when it was run over by the Clinton/Blair bandwagon.

I’m sure there are more names. And a non-LSE list too of course.

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