Prospero among the neo-conservatives: the temptations of political powerlessness

The Hedgehog Review 9 (1) (2007)
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How can intellectuals who oppose the illegitimate war in Iraq come to similar terms with the U.S. neoconservatives, and their unrepentant British collaborators, who have stranded us in it? In the Tempest, Shakespeare’s most political play, comedy though it is meant to be, intellectuals are warned not to consider themselves guiltless. But how can those who marched against the war, or who tried to speak truth to power in other ways, be guilty of its misuses? Surely this is too harsh a view of the role of the public intellectual. What choice did Prospero really have? He was exiled, hapless, stranded. What choice do intellectuals who are against the war have? We, too, are powerless. Aren’t we?

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Donna Dickenson
Birkbeck, University of London


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