third world intelectuals movind to first world countries

June 14, 2008

Been reading The Hacker Manifesto by Mark McKenzie the past few days (about one third in right now). Julian Dibble wrote on the back that it could just as well be called The Communist Manifesto 2.0. McKenzie put into words some of the weirder, more out-of-line, thoughts that I’ve had in my life, maybe more on that on another day.

One thing he opened my eyes for is first world countries buying out first world intellectuals. Now I’m not sure when exactly when someone is being “bought”, but he do have a point. When the best intellectuals move out of a country, it has an amazing influence. And according to him the top people don’t stay in third world countries.

We’ve been talking about this last night over dinner, could think of a few people. Mark Shuttleworth, South African IT-billionare now based in London (last I heard). But from what I gather he still does a lot of work building up South Africa. Then there is that South African rocket guy now based in America, he was on Carte Blanche a while ago. And the Tesla was designed by American based South Africans as well according to one of my friends. We talked about Werner von Braun and his rocket team who was taken to America after World War 2, and some other names also popped up.

Sean Jacobs write about the top 100 intellectuals, and makes mention of a number of African intellectuals (in this post understood more as the philosophical kind) now based in especially America, but also England and Australia. From the field of theology I can add Wentzel van Huyssteen, South African theologian now at Princeton, and then Miroslav Volf, Croatian born theologian now at Yale.

How should be think about this? Somehow you can’t blame them for taking opportunities which they never would have gotten in their homelands, and also think about the contribution they now make globally because of the new location. But still third world countries keep on losing their best intelectuals, the people who are supposed to create opportunities, form a culture, form a country. What should be expected from first world countries in this regard? Why don’t we hear from other Europian countries that much, but England and America keep on popping up?

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