Rehabilitating the economist

Following up on my post Methodology, Ideology from a few days ago, I’ve started to dig in to Johanna Bockman’s Markets in the Name of Socialism: The Left-Wing Origins of Neoliberalism. It is a fascinating perspective on the history of economic thought and the sociology of economics. Importantly, it is explicitly concerned with separating the standard methodology of neoclassical economics from right-wing, capitalist ideology.

I have suffered from an unshakeable paranoia about being an economist ever since it looked like I was going to become one. To be an economist is, as I have written about a lot before, to be generally understood as someone concerned with finance, business, and money, a soulless being who sees human beings as automatons programmed to maximize their wealth. I began to feel—I still can’t shake the feeling—that we are forever condemned to this tragic, villainous role.

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Recommended reading: Maciej Cegłowski

Worth your time: a recent talk by Maciej Cegłowski on “The Moral Economy of Tech”. Cegłowski has a knack for straightforward, concise, and eloquent thinking on the tech world.

We tend to imagine dystopian scenarios as one where a repressive government uses technology against its people. But what scares me in these scenarios is that each one would have broad social support, possibly majority support.

My greatest fear is seeing the full might of the surveillance apparatus unleashed against a despised minority, in a democratic country.

Techies will complain that trivial problems of life in the Bay Area are hard because they involve politics. But they should involve politics. Politics is the thing we do to keep ourselves from murdering each other.

A previous talk “What Happens Next Will Amaze You” was one of my favorite reads from last year.