Tony Judt, a vocal proponent of social democracy at a time when such proponents are increasingly rare, died today, after a long struggle with ALS. It was the inevitable result, and everyone, including Judt, knew it was coming, but that doesn’t make his passing any less painful. He was a brilliant thinker and writer, and apparently a brilliant professor as well. Since learning he had ALS several years ago, he had been spending his time writing and speaking at university campuses, trying to get students to believe that government can be a positive force in people’s lives, and that activism us not only warranted, but a desirable state of affairs. I discussed some of his work in an earlier post. Back in the US last month, I picked up his most recent book, Ill Fares the Land, which summarizes his views on the need for a broader and more participatory approach to social democracy. It’s sitting on the bedside table, waiting for the careful read I intend to give it. He was a beacon of reason in an age increasingly dominated by political charlatans, hysterics, and the criminally stupid. And boy, will he be missed.
Update: The Guardian does a nice write-up, with some selected quotes from Judt.