“Very superstitious, writing’s on the wall”

(Stevie Wonder)

Econo-political culture in 2020: post-modernism or mediaeval bollocks on a par with with transubstantiation?

In today’s Daily Telegraph, the economist Roger Bootle uses this link paragraph as the opening to his critique of Bank of England policy:

‘Rather like the largely unchallenged thinking behind the adoption of a second lockdown, this combination of policies has not been subjected to due scrutiny. To avoid similar mistakes, the macroeconomic policy response to the virus should also be subject to open and frequent challenge.’

Bootle’s piece is very good (I’m a fan anyway because like me, he questions the relative quality of French wine) but the phrase that especially caught my attention was ‘largely unchallenged thinking’.

Such acceptance is part of the present-day “post-modernist” school of Western philosophy which, to my mind, is an unhealthy reaction to the dominance of ‘the scientific method’ that so dominated mid 20th century analyses.

As always with Homo “sapiens”, we have lurched from one extreme view to another. The ‘science must conquer all’ dictum that brought us DDT, thalidomide, Chernyoble and other nuclear or pharmaceutical undesirables has been challenged by first, the Hippie and Eastern Mysticism craze of the 1960s, and then by the growth of Green and ‘natural’ movements that took us into the Nineties.

The battle between scientific empiricism on the one hand and scepticism, subjectivism, or relativism on the other has become just another culturally divisive element…but now, the post-modernism on offer is so extreme as to be without value and, at times, bordering on insanity.

Ironically (and predictably) the “progressives” use the words “science” and “expert” to defend thought and policy that is neither settled nor even apparent; their ideological fixations have turned into a general suspicion of reason, and the assertion of “it is what it is” as the rationale for maintaining political and economic power.

Ideology comes in all the sizes and all the colours. But the mismatch between claim and reality (at least,in a three-dimensional Universe) is clear in all of it.

Islam is not the religion of peace. Communism does not generate widespread affluence. Neoliberal wealth does not trickle down. Antifa is not a democratic fighter against fascism. Momentum is not a free-speech, non-violent organisation. Covid19 is not a deadly global killer, and most masks in use to contain it represent nothing more than a ritual. Shutting down the US economy will cause far more death and deprivation than Covid ever could. Joe Biden is not the President-elect. Bourses do not drive the funding requirements of capitalism. QE should not be included in gdp calculations. Lockdown has no discernible track record of containing Coronavirus.

There is no difference between the 15th century Spanish Inquisition and the 21st century Get Trump media Armada. The one learning is that, over 700 years (and just 75 years after Hitlerian claptrap was defeated) superstition has as strong a hold over us as ever.