A couple of my professors recently told me that most political philosophers don't really care about what they write. Most of them find a niche and become really good at writing about it, but they're not actually passionate. Needless to say, hearing about this was extremely disheartening. How could it be that the people who study justice do not really care about rectifying injustice? Why would anyone enter the field of political philosophy and not have the fire burning inside? I can only think of a couple of explanations. One is that they actually started off passionate, but due to the nature of academia and the requirement to publish, they slowly lost it. Another explanation, one that is more grim, is that they never had the passion to begin with. Perhaps political philosophy was just an interest that they had and they couldn't think of anything else they wanted to do more. In any case, it is a shame.
I don't have much to say about this except for the fact that I'm highly disappointed and that I've lost a little bit of faith in the potential of my colleagues (and future colleagues). Accordingly, I feel quite alone sometimes in my subject, especially when I read very dull and uninteresting papers. The fact that no modern piece of political philosophy has made me cry is a great tragedy. When I turn the pages of Mill or Rousseau, it doesn't take long before a passage touches my soul, but when I read anything written after 1950, not one tear is shed. I have been wondering why modern political philosophy just isn't as beautiful as the classics and I suspect it is because the literature has become more technical (as opposed to the possibility that we just don't write as well now). To be clear, I'm not saying we shouldn't be technical, but rather that we need to strike a better balance. We need to keep in mind the bigger picture; we need to remind ourselves that when we write, we're not doing it to get paid, but to change the world. In order for that to happen, the public must be able to not only understand, but feel the theory. They have to feel that the current society is suffering from great injustices and that immediate action is required. To bring about such a change requires literature that convinces more than just the mind, but also the spirit.
The problem of the lack of passion is related, I believe, to the problem of over-technicality. It is because of the lack of passion that the problem of technicality continues, or better put, to strike a better balance between technicality and beauty requires passion. Indeed, we can only succesfully fight back against the trend in academia if we truly believe what we're writing. Righteous indignation is the answer! With that, we can perhaps convince more people more quickly and utlimately reaffirm political philosophy's true place in human history.