03 February 2008

Making Up for Nike and McDonalds ~ Another American Export

It has been a busy day here in blogging land ... However, I want to call your attention to this profile of Roberto Mangabeira Unger from The New York Times yesterday. As I have noted here repeatedly [1] [2] [3] [4] [5], I think Unger is quite interesting insofar as he is trying to export a quite radical version of American pragmatism to Brazil. I do not agree with Unger in all the details, but his views on institutional experimentation, radicalizing democracy and disentangling systemic political-economic reform from crisis all are crucially important.

Can you imagine a U.S. Presidential candidate who promised to appoint a 'minister of ideas' or a council of intellectual advisors who were not narrow-minded economists? Lula has appointed Unger in Brazil. And, in a similarly remarkable move, in France the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy has solicited the views of Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz [1] on what might be included in a plausible metric for economic growth only to be ridiculed by the anti-intellecctuals at The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. It is astounding how fearsome ideas and inquiry can be. In a country where we are hostage to neo-consrvative and neo-liberal ideologues, this is a fear I wish we could overcome.

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