Monday, August 4, 2014

As I was saying...

A little over a year ago, Sandwichman posted Peer Review: Economists and the Rhetoric of Groveling. It may seem a bit unfair to single out economists for engaging in a behavior that is undoubtedly universal. Folks grovel. Indeed, the use of the word "folks" -- as in "we tortured some folks" -- is a prime example of groveling.

My point, though, was that much of what economists perceive as economics is no such beast. It's genuflection, plain and simple. Or, as Fitzmaurice observed regarding the rhetoric of late modern English letters, "the rhetorical structures adopted by the men seeking patronage indicate the extent to which epistolary mendicity is conventionalized in humiliative discourse..."

In fewer syllables: untruth abounds in the service of groveling. To be more specific, the form this groveling often takes relies on denigrating lower social orders: beggars, cranks, shirkers, free-loaders, featherbedders, manual laborers. It's a pathetic attempt to persuade one's social superior to identify with the supplicant by emphasizing their mutual distinction from the rabble.

ProGrowthLiberal asks if economists should be honest or civil. Isn't it a bit late for civility? The only question left is whether they should be honest or deceitful in their incivilities. And I don't mean any disrespect to economists when I suggest they are "pandering lackeys." I simply don't see any immanent grounds for exempting them from the consequences of their own rhetorical strategies.

1 comment:

Myrtle Blackwood said...

Richard Heinberg sums it up nicely: "...the gradual accretion of a set of widely shared assumptions that constitute a bounded ideational realm with rigidly consistent internal rules. Deviate from these rules, and there are predictable consequences...."

Two Realities

There does seem to be a correlation between the perpetuation of academic nonsense and a general decline in society/civilisation/physical reality.