[OPE] The ideological function of Stiglitz's economics

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Tue Feb 26 2008 - 14:43:11 EST

Well, personally I do admire Stiglitz as economic thinker, though not as politician. I admire Barack Obama, to the extent he acknowledges that in reality the problems are not mainly economic, but organizational. 

But I don't have to agree with either of them on all particular questions, and in fact I don't in man areas. My experience is that intellectuals will tout an idea, but they are not in control of how that idea will be seized up by the masses, and they may not be fully aware of how it will be seized. An idea intended for a specific purpose, may be popularly utilized for an entirely different purpose. 

We can then of course try to adapt our idea to the lowest common denominator, but then we are degrading our own intellect, we do not emancipate anybody by withholding the truth as we know it.

Marx for example was surprised to find that his ideas had greatest resonance in Russia, even although he thought of himself as having provided just a sketch of the development of capitalism in Western Europe and of the conditions for proletarian revolution there. To be fully conscious would mean knowing the total effect which the expression of your own idea will have, but most of us mortals just aren't that conscious, and in addition the effect of one's idea depends partly on one's own actions.

If you have a polity which raises hopes of social amelioration, but which in reality lacks the means to realize it, then I think you've got a contradiction. That contradiction could be mediated or resolved in various ways, but I don't think that we get very far at all by denying that there is a contradiction. A honest policy would begin by admitting that there is a contradiction, rather than obscure it. They say that there is no such thing as an honest politician, because the whole truth cannot be told, but there is such a thing as a principled politics, and a principled politics is based on a consistent view of what the current realities make necessary, rather than what happens to be expedient in the situation.


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