Prospect asked readers to select their favourites from a list of the world’s leading thinkers. The results are inby / March 25, 2015 / Leave a comment
With nearly 3,000 votes cast, the results of Prospect’s world thinkers 2015 poll are now in. Voters came to the Prospect website in large numbers through Twitter and Facebook, and from many countries around the world.
The top 10 of last year’s poll was dominated by thinkers—including the winner, economist and philosopher Amartya Sen—whose work focused on the social, political and environmental challenges posed by economic growth in the developing world. However, Sen and others, notably the economists Raghuram Rajan and Kaushik Basu, are absent from this year’s list, which rewards impact over the past 12 months. In their place in the top 10 are thinkers who are wrestling, in different ways, with the dysfunctions of what some persist in calling the “developed world.”
2014 was Thomas Piketty’s year—as of January 2015, his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century had sold a remarkable 1.5m copies worldwide in several languages—and this is reflected in the French economist’s position at the top of our list. The past year has also been one in which anxieties about the economic, social and political costs of inequality have moved up the political agenda.
Several of the other thinkers in the top 10—particularly Yanis Varoufakis, Naomi Klein, Paul Krugman and Russell Brand (whose inclusion on the original list of 50 attracted considerable media coverage, some of it even favourable)—share similar concerns. It is striking, too, that they are all, broadly speaking, on the political left. One economist who has spoken out against Piketty and in defence of the “1 per cent,” the American Greg Mankiw, came near the bottom of the poll.
As was the case last year, there are two women in the top 10, Klein and Arundhati Roy (in 2013, there were none). And the presence of Hilary Mantel, Rebecca Solnit and Mona Eltahawy in the top 20 suggests that feminist critique of various kinds is experiencing a resurgence.
Many thanks to all those who voted. Do let us know what you make of the results on Twitter @Prospect_UK or in the comments.
The top ten
It’s hard to think of a work of economics—certainly not one published in the past 30 years—that has had as extraordinary an impact outside the guild of professional economists as Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century… Read more
Syriza’s victory in January’s Greek general election was in no small part due to the efforts of Yanis Varoufakis, now installed as Finance Minister… Read more
Since 1999’s No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, which became a kind of set text for the anti-globalisation movement, Klein has been leading the charge against the excesses of consumer capitalism…. Read more
Dismissed by his opponents as a clownish opportunist, Brand is nevertheless the most charismatic figure on Britain’s populist left… Read more
Krugman has attacked supporters of austerity for keeping economies—and their people—in unnecessary pain. And he is still at it… Read more
Roy has written widely on the status of women in Indian society, corporate corruption and Kashmiri independence, and, in 2014, was an outspoken critic of Narendra Modi, calling his election as India’s Prime Minister a “tragedy…” Read More
As the new Greek Syriza government challenges the rest of Europe over its unpaid debt, Habermas’s suggestion that the European Union is in crisis and needs reform is more relevant than ever… Read more
Last year, Steven Pinker described Daniel Kahneman as “the world’s most influential living psychologist…” Read more
Gray is the west’s pre-eminent oracle of catastrophe. Since the collapse of communism, he argues, we have had 25 years of “liberal delusion” that has more in common with the religious ideologies it is fighting than it would like to think… Read more
As well as practising as a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Gawande is a staff writer at the New Yorker… Read more
Read more from our top ten thinkers: