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Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 06:59 | SYDNEY
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 06:59 | SYDNEY

Intellectual movements everywhere

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24 May 2010 16:27

You know how, when a friend buys a new car, you suddenly start seeing that model car everywhere on the road?

My mind turned this morning to intellectual movements; how they can champion unpopular ideas, and over time, bring them into the mainstream and turn them into accepted wisdom which moves the world.

So now I'm spotting intellectual movements like they're Hyundai i30s.

First there was Graeme Dobell's column about what brought Australia's political class to the point in the early '80s where radical economic reform could take place. Mark Thirlwell's two-part piece is all about the revival of a once-discarded notion called 'geo-economics'. Then there was that Christopher Hitchens piece I linked to, which argued that Hitchens' support for the Iraq war could be traced back to George Orwell's anti-fascism.

Last on my list is this NYRB piece on the rise of the food movement. The industrialisation of food production has completely transformed life in Western societies. It has had many benefits (food is cheaper than ever; women are freer to enter the workforce), but it is now seen as being at the root of countless health, environmental and social problems, which the food movement is dedicated to addressing.

The piece makes a good case that the food movement will grow in influence around the globe in coming years:

It is only a matter of time before politicians seize on the power of the food issue, which besides being increasingly urgent is also almost primal, indeed is in some deep sense proto-political. For where do all politics begin if not in the high chair?—at that fateful moment when mother, or father, raises a spoonful of food to the lips of the baby who clamps shut her mouth, shakes her head no, and for the very first time in life awakens to and asserts her sovereign power.

Photo by Flickr user alexi1982, used under a Creative Commons license.