|Two Top Thinkers|
The journal Foreign Policy has named its “Top 100 Global Thinkers” for 2011 [h/t 3 Quarks Daily]. Lists like this tend to be arbitrary and even a bit silly. Nevertheless, compared to, e.g., TIME magazine’s list of 100 Best Non-Fiction Books, about which I blogged back in August, FP’s list is–and might be in the future–of somewhat more interest in U.S. intellectual historians. FP is a far more intellectually serious publication than TIME. At the very least, FP is closely enough connected to the foreign policy establishment that a list like this probably tells us something about who that policy elite is paying (or perhaps will be paying) attention to.
Rather than review the entire list, I’m going to focus on the U.S. “thinkers” who appear on it (in the interest of inclusivity, I’ve counted some foreign nationals who permanently reside in the U.S.).
1 (tie with various leaders of the “Arab Spring”). Gene Sharp
10. Ben Bernanke
11. Barack Obama
12. Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice
13. Bill and Melinda Gates
17. Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg
20. Bill and Hillary Clinton
23. Gene Cretz, Elizabeth Dibble, Robert Godec, Carlos Pascual, and Anne Patterson
25. Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff
30. Nouriel Roubini
32. Paul Krugman
33. Joseph Stiglitz
34. Elizabeth Warren
35. Amy Chua
36. Terry Engelder, Gary Lash, and George P. Mitchell
38. Mike Mullen
40. Paul Ryan
41. Robert Zoellick
43. Edward Glaeser and Saskia Sassen
44. David Scheffer (along with Luis Moreno-Ocampo)
45. Robert Gates
46. Christina Romer
48. Steven Pinker
49. Andrew Sullivan
50. Ron Paul
51. John McCain
53. Samantha Power
54. Mohamed El-Erian
58. Thomas Friedman
60. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
64. Joseph Nye
65. Nancy Birdsall
66. Barry Eichengreen
67. Robert D. Kaplan
68. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
69. Kenneth Roth
70. Daniel Kahneman
72. Tyler Cowen
73. Joi Ito and Ethan Zuckerman
78. Lester Brown
82. Clay Shirky
83. Jared Cohen and Alec Ross
84. Paul Farmer
90. Anne-Marie Slaughter
93. Lant Pritchett
96. Mari Kuraishi
97. Arvind Subramanian
Some random thoughts on this (sub)list:
- In what sense are these folks “thinkers”? FP doesn’t really say what it means by the word, other than describing its entire article as “a unique portrait of 2011’s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them.”
- While the list is certainly global, it includes an awful lot of Americans (forty-seven of the hundred slots are occupied, at least in part, by US citizens and permanent residents).
- Apparently the “global marketplace of ideas” does not include the arts (high-, low-, or middle-brow) or the humanities.
- What it does include are an awful lot of politicians, pundits, and social scientists. Especially economists. Given the track record of the economics profession, its dominance of this list is a little surprising. Then again, given the state of the world, perhaps it really isn’t.
- There’s a lot of careful balancing being done here: men and women, Republicans and Democrats, famous and (relatively) obscure, new media and old media.
- Despite these balancing acts, the list doesn’t seem to include anyone who FP sees as important but villainous. The political balancing only involves US and European politics. Both sides of the mainstream U.S. political divide are presented, but while prominent dissidents around the world are featured in the longer list, the Arab opposition to the “Arab Spring” is nowhere in sight, nor are Putin or Medvedev, Castro or Chavez, Ahmadinijad or Khamenei.
- While the leaders of the Arab Spring top the list, Occupy, in its various manifestations, is utterly absent.
- At least one person on the list is a reader of this blog. Does that mean USIH is participating in the global marketplace of ideas?