Elif Shafak on public intellectuals

[In the UK] Freedom of speech prevails, democracy is strong. Novelists are not sued for tackling controversial issues, academics are not expelled in their thousands, journalists are not put in jail en masse. Compared with their Turkish, Russian, Venezuelan, Pakistani or Chinese counterparts, British intellectuals have so much freedom. One would expect them to be aware of this privilege, and speak up not only for themselves but also for those who can’t. So why don’t we have more public intellectuals in this country? The answer lies in the words of a British academic who once told me: “Well, we think it’s a bit arrogant to call yourself intellectual. And to do that publicly is twice as arrogant.”

Source: Elif Shafak: ‘It is time we stopped denigrating the public intellectual’

Author: Matthew Culnane

Sometime social and UX person working in education. Interested in food, books, music, others. Working out how it all works.