a Politburo for correct thinking
May 6, 2020, 5:34 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,


After the collapse of world markets in 2009, the banks, regulators, MBA and economics schools all came together and made policy changes and passed legislation to protect against such a cataclysm from happening again. Ha ha, no, actually no they didn’t. All systems are more or less the same and we are hurtling toward similar disasters timed every decade or so until the end of our lives.

The economics profession is like a Politburo – or a religion – only with less empirical evidence. Its sacramental formulas are proven wrong again and again, yet no changes are made, no recriminations rendered, no firings, no jail time. J. K. Galbraith puts it like this:

Leading active members of today’s economics profession … have formed themselves into a kind of Politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule – as one might generally expect from a gentleman’s club – this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen … No one loses face, in this club, for having been wrong. No one is dis-invited from presenting papers at later annual meetings. And still less is anyone from the outside invited in.

James K. Galbraith, as quoted in The Future: Recycled, No Future For You, The Baffler


the free slave
September 24, 2013, 3:10 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , ,

Zizek improves on Chesterton: true that worry about one’s life can freeze us; but an overstatement that self reflection enslaves:

We may say broadly that free thought is the best of all the safeguards against freedom. Managed in a modern style the emancipation of the slave’s mind is the best way of preventing the emancipation of the slave. Teach him to worry about whether he wants to be free, and he will not free himself.

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

One can … claim like Chesterton that the abstract freedom to think (and doubt) actually prevents actual freedom. But is the subtraction of thinking from acting, the suspension of its efficiency, really as clear and unequivocal as that?

Slavoj Zizek, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, Introduction