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July 9, 2003

working with power

I'm reading all the back issues of the Higher Education Exchange, in order to write a mini-report for the editors about their future strategy for the journal. One generally excellent article is Edward Royce's "The Practice of the Public Intellectual" (1999). In passing, Royce makes a point that I consider very important. He writes: "public intellectuals can work with those subject to power as well as against those who exercise power." Working with ordinary people (or with especially oppressed people) is an entirely different form of engagement from "speaking truth to power." It requires more listening, more quiet work within institutions and communities, more development of personal relationships and trust, more building on local assets—and less dramatic rhetoric. Working against the powerful is an important role for intellectuals to play. But working "with those subject to power" seems equally valuable (and interesting).

July 9, 2003 11:30 AM | category: revitalizing the left | Comments


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