1715. Reading:Shelden Wolin Politics and Vision

I have shifted my reading from economics, especially early , say stone age, to the political thinking f the same eras. Politics and economics have been woefully separated from each other.

Early societies had discussions (among a few people) that felt with the full scene. From Wolin’s Politics and Vision (highly recommended for an overview of the political in relation to economics)

Ever since Plato first perceived that the inquiry into the nature of the good life of the individual was necessarily associated with a converging (and not parallel)inquiry into the nature of the good community, a close and continuing association has persisted between political philosophy and philosophy in general.

But by the time of the great Florentine accountants to the physiocrats, Ricardo and Smith (even Smith) the tendency has been to isolate economics from society. Society is messy and economics is a natural system,

The motive for this continual tendency to separate out economics has several sources. Two outstanding are first, the elegance of simplicity for calculability. But the second is that is castrates social thinking. There is no room in a natural system for social interference. Social class, wealth and poverty and political power cannot be found in the micro-macro split (no social class there) nor in supply-demand curves. The method of narrowing economics is fairly obvious: The changes in economics have been politically motivated and expressed through the leverage points and seductions of tenure chairs, prizes, access to the university presidents office and the board, the need of the press for legitimacy, foundations. and access to the consulting and jobs in the government jobs policies they work . Money and prestige seep through to willing participants.

The tendency to to treat current socioeconomic policy as if it is an unfortunately control on the natural evolution of a natural system that has the goal of free participation of super rationalizing people in a free market equilibrium – no politics and no society need be present. In this way history reveals the truth which was preordained. No human agency involved and the attempt to include it just mucks up the (beautiful) logic. There is no alternative, we just need to give in to the inevitable..

Which is that all transactions are integrated into a single system of exchanges whee everything has a price and and people can maximize their utility (oops, providing they have some income – go visit sociology for that). The only things that counts in economics are things with a price. What people want is much broader. But the conditions of life, the choice we are actually offers, not the ones we really want, narrow us down.

Interesting that we call a system of economics rational that will destroy us.

So, the book now in politics is

Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought (Princeton Classics)

 

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