Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Intellectuals in Peru

There is a lot of talk about the role of academia in influencing (or not) public policy in the United States and the proper role of a " public intellectual." Along those lines, Martín Tanaka writes about the Peruvian context as he reviews what sounds like a very interesting book, Osmar Gonzales' La academia y la ágora. He makes four points:

First, there are two types of intellectuals: those who want followers and those who want to contribute to the common good. Remember this is the country where a former professor led a violent and messianic movement.

Second, there is a tension regarding intellectuals who are part of criollo culture arguing against it in favor of the pueblo. He argues this is evident with intellectuals who support Ollanta Humala.

Third, intellectuals have been weakened vis-a-vis technocrats, who do not have to generate public consensus about their ideas, but rather are sheltered and simply get to impose them. This is a legacy of Alberto Fujimori.

Fourth, for years politics have not been sustained by ideas, or at least there has not been sufficient intellectual questioning of policy. He thinks Humala offers an opportunity to overcome this.


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