Economics and the Culture War

Economics and the Culture War

Some economists may prefer to concentrate on the current economic situation while standing apart from cultural questions, or to say that the current kerfuffle over “cancel culture” will recede when the economy improves. But this is to abdicate responsibility and to choose the easy road under cover of their discipline’s neutrality.

The authority of economics is based on the precision of its reasoning and its emphasis on measurement. Anything that can be counted should be, while anything that can’t is a matter of opinion, not knowledge. (Scientists’ ongoing attempts to uncover the causes and progress of COVID-19 are based on precisely this method.)

Robert Skidelsky of Project Syndicate regards the virulence of the current outbreak of culture war partly reflects the lack of alternative news: the media cannot live off the pandemic alone, and the normal business of economics, politics, and international affairs is at a standstill. “Cancel culture” surely would not be gaining the attention it has if there were more (and more important) news.

In this thoughtful article Robert Skidelsky considers how some economists may prefer to concentrate on the current economic situation while standing apart from cultural questions, but he asserts this is an abdication of  responsibility, and only reflects a desire to “choose the easy road under cover of their discipline’s neutrality”.

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