Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Paul Krugman - Fantasist

Communism was intended to be a system of society based on scientific principles. Scientific socialism was a term coined by Engels for Marx’s socio-economic theories.

TigerHawk comments on a brief New York Times piece about Paul Krugman, of whom I have written before. a Times contributor and Nobel-Prize-winning (won I can only assume in a game of cribbage) academic economist and his initial motivation to enter that field.

“I went into economics,” he wrote in an e-mail message, “because I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, in which social scientists save galactic civilization, and that’s what I wanted to be.”

TigerHawk further explains the core of the Foundation Series, for those like me who have never read it. These ‘social scientists’ have a branch of science called ‘psychohistory’, allowing them to predict accurately the behaviour of large populations, although not individuals or small groups. We don’t.

Krugman started in economics quite literally from the point of view of Marxism, scientific socialism.

He appears still to be very much a centralising technocrat (as was Marx), believing the knowledgeable should decide for the ‘little people’. He certainly believes governments know best how to spend people’s money; he does not need to listen to anyone less important than he is, like people who have actually experienced what he is arguing in favour of. He is always right, as are socialists (liberals he calls them, twisting the meaning of the word far beyond torture), at least by his own definition. It appears that Krugman is still basing his life on a fantasy.

Meanwhile back in reality economists are notoriously bad at even agreeing what to predict of large-group behaviour, let alone getting the right answer. That is why libertarians rely on what really is predictable about behaviour of individuals and small groups, that they will act in their own perceived interests, responding to incentive. That is the core basis of economics, and the reason capitalism works.

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