Every year, the Southern People Weekly compiles a list of top public intellectuals in China. The magazine defines public intellectual as those: 1) with academic background and professional standing; 2) with active participation in the discussions of public affairs; 3) with a sense of criticism and morality. In an article this month, Liu Gang, editor of the WSJ Chinese Web, discusses in turn how public intellectuals in China lack these qualities. The following are translation of extracts from his article.
Category 1: Public Toilets
Some are like public toilets on the street. They simply collect angers from ordinary people. Their greatest contribution is to let these angers be heard in a wider area. Some internet bloggers and grass root commentators fall into this category. These people publish vigorous commentaries on public affairs, serving as a channel for people to vent their angers. Unfortunately, the quality of their comments is not much higher than that of ordinary people. They lack academic vigor and professional knowledge. Their analysis on public problems is very often too simplified and emotional. For example, their writings on the rich-poor gap in China often concentrate on the lack of ethics and ill-gotten gains on the part of the rich, but rarely discuss the irrational factors and negative effects of this emotional hatred of the rich. This category of intellectual has a spirit of criticisms, but their limited knowledge and insights impair the credibility of their analysis.