This is…odd? Disconcerting? Tragic?
Economics considers itself a science. It claims to apply math to evidence. Analysis must be supported by proof.
So how does a rift get this deep? Competing hypothoses are the basis of science, but economics has reached thoroughly opposed and irreconcilable conclusions, generated by all-encompassing theories that have become iron laws, mouthed in platitudes. It has, at least on one side, become a sort of theology of individual maximalisation, with the response to any question ordained by service to the agreed-upon version of the increase of same theology.
Can a science become end-focused and remain a science? Are the two sides arguing not just different descriptions but different realities and, more to the point, different directions and goals?
I know the right wing economists are wrong. I know they have created a bizarre world for themselves, while at the same time insulating themselves in academia, and nothing can breach their fortress mortared together with self-interest and prejudice of human nature. They are merely another iteration in the plague of advice givers who are insulated from the results of their advice. They have merely grafted a few math terms on the perpetual error of the ascendant class in assuming its own interests are universal.
But I worry about our side. My side. Are we as deeply flawed on “how things work”, just in some invisible direction? After all, my principles seem so obvious. I believe, as I’ve said before, the left-wing version should work: it has a rational basis, if limited historical precedent – but that it hasn’t, must give me, and more so the professionals, pause.
Sciences should not have disagreements this broad. Beyond mere humility – which will never be found on OpEd pages – can economics salvage itself as a science, or should it give up the pretension? What if something looks like science, but isn’t anymore and maybe never was? What if, as the piquant critiques of the 19C held, economic science was always infected by whatever version of the future it moralized?