Monday, August 9, 2010

Tony Judt 1948-2001: Global intellectual

Tony Judt was one of a vanishing breed of public intellectuals who thought and wrote about hard subject such as the fate of democracy,why we should oppose ideological fantasies of the 20th century and the prospects of peace in our late stage of capitalistic excesses.

His best known book, Post War: Europe since 1945, carefully showed the formation of a new Europe from the rubble of 1945 and intertwinned in the masterful narrative was the way many post war intellectuals have been trapped rather than liberated by some of the same ideologies that led to the last disastrous European war.

Judt died last week after a long and painful bout with Lou Gehrigs disease. He fought his tragic fate with enormous dignity and bravery, managing to use a specially adapted voice translator for his severely compromised lungs.  Some fine obituaries have been penned this week. The one in The Guardian finely appreciates the contributions he made to modern European history and his effort to reframe the so called two state solution in the Middle East. His passing leaves a huge gap in our intellectual life. Let us hope that other brave independent minds can use his example and try to find a way of talking about the global issues that matter so they reach beyond just a narrow academic audience.


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