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Prof. Sen Defends Marxism

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Prof Amartya Sen with Sharmila Tagore

Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen delivered a passionate defence of the importance of free thought, in Hay’s annual lecture in honour of the festival’s former president Eric Hobsbawm. Challenged by a questioner who asked him how he could respect a philosophy whose practitioners had created the Gulag and the Cultural Revolution, Sen said ideas need to be examined no matter who held them…reports Rafeek Ravuther for Asian Lite, Best newspaper for British Asians

Prof Amartya Sen with Sharmila Tagore
Prof Amartya Sen with Sharmila Tagore

Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen delivered a passionate defence of the importance of free thought, in Hay’s annual lecture in honour of the festival’s former president Eric Hobsbawm. He ranged widely through the history of ideas, touching on the Buddha, John Stuart Mill and, of course, Hobsbawm’s beloved Karl Marx.

The festival at Hay-on-Wye at Wales will conclude on May 31.

“Many of the Marxian insights remain inadequately pursued, and they can enrich our understanding of the past and of the present, right now, and we do not have to be Marxists to make use of these insights,” he said.

Challenged by a questioner who asked him how he could respect a philosophy whose practitioners had created the Gulag and the Cultural Revolution, Sen said ideas need to be examined no matter who held them.

“It’s like saying that, just because of the Inquisition, there is no need to take an interest in Jesus Christ’s ideas. Well, I do take an interest in Jesus Christ’s ideas,” he said.