Monday, December 22, 2008
Quote of the Day: On the power of defunct economists
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. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.
If Keynes could survey the world's descent into neofeudalism, I wonder what he would say now. Economic ideas are both adaptable and readily disposable, as we have seen in the recent economic decisions of the "market-oriented" Bush administration when vested interests are threatened.
That is not to say that economic ideas are not important but that they are more the offspring than the progenitors of social philosophy.