Save positivism

This article is good, and so are some 80% of the comments below it, many disagreeing with it. It all illustrates just how impossible the science of economics has become; it has almost become political discourse.

Standing back from it all I wish economists did stand back too and stand back far enough to debate basics. It is a safe economic abstraction that the current crisis (in Europe in particular) is a problem of demand; people aren’t spending. But to solve that problem requires an answer that is much more sociological and psychological than it is economical. And so it is important to evaluate in numerical terms the weight of the various factors that inhibit people’s positive behavior. Simply encouraging people to start spending again isn’t going to fully change their negative mindset about the world they live in.

Our crisis also is a problem of confidence, of faith. It touches upon many fears such as climate change, political upheaval on the periphery, perception of finite resources, changing definitions of what is labor, a failing US/Western authority and revisionist Chinese challenge. It has laid bare a stunning lack of confidence in our ability to organize change, not just in Europe but in the US as well. A president was elected promising his audacity of hope would turn things around but the lack of a positive decision making administration is but a symptom of our inability to get out of our heads and out of our comfort zone and self-defeating confrontational attitude as a civilization.

I think we must admit that positivism itself is being challenged fundamentally. Economics like many other sciences is assaulted by political opportunism intent on undermining the edifice of our positivist, rational civilization. We really must selflessly fight that and secure our rational but more than that, humane foundation.