Drezner starts out by defining two distinct kinds of thinkers, who share in common a desire to develop important ideas and at the same time reach a broad audience. One of these types, the dying one, is the public intellectual, whom Drezner describes as a wide-ranging “critic” and a foe of power; she perhaps stays “aloof from the market, society, or the state,” and she proudly bears a duty “to point out when an emperor has no clothes.” The ascendant type is the thought leader, who is more congenial to the plutocrats who sponsor so much intellectual production today. Thought leaders tend, Drezner says, to “know one big thing and believe that their important idea will change the world”; they are not skeptics but “true believers”; they are optimists, telling uplifting stories; they reason inductively from their own experiences more than deductively from authority. They go easy on the powerful.
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