The Fraud That Is Pankaj Mishra

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  1. I dont think fraud is necessarily the best word. It is indeed POSSIBLE that Pankaj is a conscious fraud, but it is more likely that he sincerely believes his bullshit. It’s not difficult to believe what so many well-bred, well-educated people around you seem to believe. These attitudes are mainstream in the humanities departments of the best Western universities and there is an entire ecosystem where writers write like Pankaj, readers read like him and everyone discusses literature and culture using the same terms. Why do you think someone like Spivak has not been laughed out of her job? Instead, she is a star…and more important, she hold the “moral high ground” in a closed little world where nobody believes in morality but everyone has an absolutely crystal clear sense of moral superiority….
    Its a communal disease and his individual responsibility may be limited. Maybe he should be described as a victim rather than a fraud….a victim of this world: http://metafish.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/gayatri-spivak-a-critique-of-postcolonial-reason/

  2. Omar,

    Thank You. I never believed that Pankaj Mishra is consciously defrauding people. I am sure that he is “sincere”, like most such intellectuals are. It is pretty much within the mainstream. But, if we judge someone by how sincere he is, we are setting the bar way too low. I think that someone who is sincere is more harmful, perhaps even more malicious than someone who is consciously lying. Rationality is a choice. Pankaj Mishra is not a teenager, but a middle aged intellectual. There is nothing which stops him from reading an elementary text on economics—and other social sciences. Someone who sincere believes in nonsense has convinced himself that what he believes in is true. But, someone who consciously lie might as well be lying because is fed up, and has stopped trying.

    I had not heard of Gayatri Spivak before. Will read more about her.

  3. Dont bother with trying to read Spivak. She writes the most tedious nonsense on the planet. It is much more fruitful to try and come up with theories about why her brand of nonsense makes her an academic superstar. If I was a psychologist, a philosopher and public intellectual, I would like to attempt an answer to that question. It may teach us something about modern society or about frauds and con artists in general. It is an amazing performance…

  4. Omar,

    Yes. That is what I have been thinking about for very long. Not just about people like Mishra, Roy and Sen, but also about the people who are good at coalition politics in human subgroups. I really loved your statement that she hold the “moral high ground” in a closed little world where nobody believes in morality but everyone has an absolutely crystal clear sense of moral superiority. Evolutionary psychology seems to explain this to an extent.

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