O Tempora, O Mores

Prospect magazine’s table this year places Brand among figures such as the leading economist and bestselling author of Capital, Thomas Piketty, who tops the table, as well as Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who comes second. The Canadian economist and environmental activist Naomi Klein came in third.


Prospect magazine’s top 10 world thinkers

1. Thomas Piketty, French economist

2. Yanis Varoufakis, Greek finance minister

3. Naomi Klein, US author

4. Russell Brand, UK comedian and campaigner

Someone who is wrong, someone who is cocking up mightily, someone who is wrong and someone who is incomprehensible make up the world’s four leading thinkers? And the thought that you get to be considered a great thinker after your book is ghosted by Johann Hari is just too depressing for words….

26 thoughts on “O Tempora, O Mores”

  1. Tim

    I think Brand was put in as a spoof by magazine readers – indeed that seems to be the general consensus on Twitter.

    I agree the Cicero quote does seem appropriate, but that’s the zeitgest that I think either Interested or Surreptitious Evil talk about – the Hard Left and Murphyite ideas are firmly entrenched within the education system and state media – the corollary of that is poll results like this – where ideas that are complex but misguided (Piketty), outright fraud (Varoufakis), Utterly wrong because based on a completely fantastical premise (Klein) or reheated nonsense discredited by the death of 100 million (Brand) are seen as ‘deep thought’.

  2. World thinker= lefty celebrity whose trousered a lot of publicity recently. So why Picketty? He’s, like, soooooo 2014.

  3. VP is right there was an ironic campaign to get brand to number one as it devalued the poll further as shortlisting him in the first place was absurd.

    On another point in what sense is Klein an economist? She is an economic writer for sure, perhaps leaning toward political economy more but certainly not under any serious definition an economist.

    I have a masters in the history of race, the fact I don’t do this as a job means it would be silly to refer to myself as a historian of race.

    I’ve seen this lazy labelling becoming more common, people with physics degrees who don’t work or continue practising science are referred to as physicists by some yet I feel if that isn’t your job or skill set practicised (physics degrees still teach questionable content, it’s the PhDs who do the currently fully accepted paradigms) then you aren’t that description.

    All of us who comment on here would probably say we engage in intellectual pursuits (reading, debating and even writing) yet none of us has the primary job of being paid to produce ideas, new ones or draft policy for government, therefore even the writers here aren’t intellectuals in the strict sense.

    Therefore Ritchie and Klein are NOT economists, they maybe other things but are not that.

  4. yet none of us has the primary job of being paid to produce ideas, new ones or draft policy for government

    Measured by days paid rather than money earned, I’m certainly getting close to “drafting policy for govt” being my primary job.

  5. I rather think you got the headline mixed up with the previous one… Surely it is this one which should be “Dear God these people are f***ing idiots”…

    O Times, O Daily Mirror….

  6. Hilariously, Prospect still have *last* year’s poll listed on their front page, which doesn’t have quite such embarrassing results.

  7. On the subject of Ritchie (he always crops up, doesn’t he?), this is a gorgeous exchange:

    “James g says:
    March 25 2015 at 6:42 pm
    So you agree Japan hasn’t had deflation. Then what evidence do you have that people defer purchases if they expect prices to decline?

    I’ve never come across a good case to support thus argument but it seems everyone just blindly assumes it is true.

    Richard Murphy says:
    March 25 2015 at 7:34 pm
    The whole of the economic theory of a time preference for money suggests it

    Maybe you want to reject that too?

    James g says:
    March 25 2015 at 9:36 pm
    I do believe in time preference. And it is why I think the deferred purchases theory in baloney. People have positive time preference. They prefer things now rather than later. So they buy something today rather than wait a year to save 2% on the price.”

  8. (Pressed post too quickly, meant to add:

    So Ritchie is quoting economic theory to back up his own argument, yet is equally happy to denounce all economics as wrong when it suits him.

    As Van_Patten said, don’t expect logic or consistency from him.

  9. The Laughing Cavalier

    Anyone who has ever listened to Brand trying to debate knows that he is as thick as two short planks put together.

  10. GlenDorran

    Appreciate that I should avoid contact with my alter ego, but I recall him openly admitting that he knew nothing about Japan in the past when someone challeneged him on one of his many flights of fancy – and that exchange proves it. Anyone using Japan as proof of ‘deflation’ and its impact, especially someone as unhinged as he is, needs to be treated with extreme scepticism – the cultural and historical differences are quite profound.

    The exchange’s chutzpah is staggering but nothing the man does surprise me now – I think UKIP need to look to propose a tax on people like him – specifically. He really needs to be removed from the debate.

  11. Just a small point and doesn’t alter anything said in this thread, but Naomi Klein is Canadian, not an American. God knows there are enough idiots in the US, including the incumbent President, but they can’t take the blame for her.

  12. Squander Two:

    Good point – in fairness given the fanaticism of some of Brand’s followers (who make Murphy’s look like relative saints) I’m surprise you didn’t get more aggravation. That said (thought it appropriate given Brand’s flirtation with ‘acting’ and Hollywood) – to quote the late Sam Goldwyn:

    ‘You can include me out’

    Or to quote Groucho Marx:

    ‘I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member’

  13. Squander

    They were going to call you and tell you they were putting you on the list
    But it was your lunchtime and..well…

  14. Sadly, Brand’s pronouncements attract a great deal of support – just look at his viewing rates on YouTube.

    Personally I despair of this, but there can be no doubt of his popularity.

  15. Strangely looking at figures 5 through 10 it’s a degree less risible:

    5. Paul Krugman
    6. Arundhati Roy
    7. Jurgen Habermas
    8. Daniel Kahneman
    9. John Gray
    10. Atul Gawande

    Whilst some of these have flaws, I would say all, even Krugman and Gray are superior to Brand or Klein…..

  16. Lefties love Piketty and Brand because they tell them what they want to here (along with all the other “deficit and/or debt don’t matter” rubbish).

    They prefer nice lies to unpleasant truths. That’s why they always screw up in government.

  17. I wrote about the 50 strong shortlist put together by Prospect’s contributors (and suggested folk my like to vote for Russell Brand). However, and I know this is a blog focused on economics, the list contained far too many economists, only two scientists and no engineers or entrepreneurs.

    “The most important thinkers aren’t those trying to square the circle by pretending there’s a way to have a store of value without creating the value in the first place. Rather the important thinking is being done by those working out how to colonise Mars, how to extract more efficiency from the machines that capture energy, and how to feed the world’s population as it continues to grow. The important thinking isn’t about money or wealth but about technology, creativity and art – yet Prospect have chosen a list utterly dominated by the immediate botheration of national budgets, international relations and, in the case of Russell Brand and Naomi Klein, baying at the moon.”


  18. Just discovered that there are two different webpages for Prospect. Rather poor organization, I have to say. There’s prospectmagazine.co.uk, and there’s prospect.magazine.co.uk. It’s the same magazine, but the latter has has last year’s poll on the front, and the former has this year’s.

  19. Surreptitious Evil

    “Will make money in the long term subject to an appropriately selected discount rate” is not the same as ‘worthwhile’.

    Just sayin’.

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