The dialectics of Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall was both a great inspiration to me and, at times, a sparring partner. He helped Britain think, uneasily and often with deep discomfort, about race. He thought synthetically about politics, culture and economy, rather than in separate slices. And he had a unique way of radiating the excitement of ideas and change.
All of his best work was dialectical in the best sense – exploring contradictions and tensions; engaging directly with his intellectual enemies rather than just dismissing them. That made him, for me, more interesting than all but a handful of thinkers.
I disagreed with him when he stopped being dialectical and started telling his audiences what they wanted to hear, and when he opted for what I felt was the detached, and safe, politics of critique in the academy rather than the tough engagement of real issues and choices. But he was nevertheless a supremely creative intellectual, immersed in popular culture, but not afraid of complexity, and always on the side of a better world.