Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Mean-Spirited Ideas.


Zach Carter:
“Politicians don’t generally turn to economists for new insight into how the world works. Economists instead serve as a kind of credibility shield - experts who can be trotted out to assure the public that there are very complex and sophisticated reasons political leaders should be doing the things they do. A big part of any Washington economics job is providing a sense of scientific certainty to political judgments that are, by their very nature, uncertain. This is true for big policy changes as well as straightforward tasks like projecting growth rates and government revenue.
“The job, in other words, is to back up your team.”
John Maynard Keynes:
“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else.”
Call me cynical, but I think someone was bullshitting us, and that someone isn’t Carter.

Friday, 18 May 2018

The Preconditions of Socialism: a Critical Review (iii)


After a week’s pause, it’s time to go back to Preconditions. Last time we examined that book’s general content and its Cold War re-discovery.

Suppose the reader, intent on saving him/herself a time-consuming engagement with Bernstein’s “scholastic” (his own term) argument decided instead to jump straight in Chapter 3 of Preconditions (2 of Evolutionary) where he makes his empirical argument.

Although perhaps unfamiliar with details, the reader is, of course, aware of Bernstein’s general intent, and particularly of what his final goal (pun intended) is: he is there to fell Marxism, much like a logger fells an old tree [“In principle, Marxism stands or falls with this theory” (p. 12)]

In section b of that chapter (P3§b E2§b) after presenting his statement of what Marxism explains, Bernstein asked himself the following question: “Now, is all this correct?” (p. 57, "Now, is all that right?" in Evolutionary).

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Predictions and Economic Debate.


Before going into matters, I want to register my protest against the massacre perpetrated by the Israeli racist government of Benjamin Netanyahu against Palestinian demonstrators.

I also want to protest against the jaw-dropping hypocrisy of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who as always are ready to spin excuses for the inexcusable.

You don't speak for me. I don't condone crimes against humanity.

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The Job Guarantee MMTers promote seems to be getting some public attention in the US. Not only that, recently Prof. William “Bill” Mitchell and co-author Thomas Fazi had an article in the popular Jacobin Magazine.

Personally, I can see the attraction of a JG, and I myself am not immune to it, although as a Marxist I have doubts about its political feasibility and its longer-term implications. But I am no expert.