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April 19, 2006

Anathematise the Dissenter!

We shall have no heresy from the creed of Worstallism!

Actually, The Everyday Economist makes some reasonable points about a piece I did for TCS. Most especially that while many policy prescriptions regarded as "correct" by economists are also regarded as "right wing" by many non-economists (free trade being the obvious example) that doesn’t actually mean that economists are actually right wing at all.

It’s also true that 40 odd years ago the opposite was true. Economists felt themselves to be further to the left than common received opinion. (That’s actually in the paper I quoted).

Fair points both. Of course, I would go on to argue that I don’t actually care whether economists are right wing, only that they are in fact right. Which is of course what they are now with their right-wing views.


April 19, 2006 in Economics | Permalink


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The world is very asymmetrical. We none of us can agree on what "right-wing" means, but all know what "left-wing" means i.e. bloody socialists. Why so?

Posted by: dearieme | Apr 19, 2006 5:15:30 PM

The only little problem is that there seems to be remarkably little consensus about what "Socialism" entails even if most identify Socialism with being left-wing.

I mean some wicked person has been running the malicious story on the Internet for years that Hitler was a Socialist just because he was the leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party and because the official party programme of the Nazis included all sorts of commitments - besides the horrific racist stuff - about better pensions and taking business trusts into state ownership, the very sort of rhetoric to be regularly found in the manifestos of European Socialist parties. It is easy to understand how the misconceptions arose. Take this text on: Nazi Economics:

"The tax department chief of the Association of Industrialists (Reichsgruppe Industrie) emphasized that it was useless to attempt precise comparisons between the new and old tax regulations because the important issue was 'the new spirit of the reform, the spirit of national Socialism. The principle of the common good precedes the good of the individual stands above everything else. In the interests of the whole nation, everyone has to pay the taxes he owes according to the new tax law'."

Avraham Barkai: Nazi Economics; Berg Publisher Ltd (1990), p.183. In case you have your suspicions, Mr Barkai is a research fellow at the Institute of German History, Tel Aviv. Apart from that, the principle "of the common good precedes the good of the individual stands above everything else" sounds quite like the usual Communitarian hash.

Perhaps the greatest extent of agreement over the meaning of Socialism is with the wit who said long ago that: Socialism in Britain is what Labour governments do. But our Tony Blair might get a bit cross about that.

Posted by: Bob B | Apr 19, 2006 10:26:20 PM

Malicious story?

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck....then it's a duck.

And since when did Communism/Socialism eschew "horrid racist stuff"?

Posted by: Geoff | Apr 20, 2006 7:58:40 AM