Money and Government: The Past and Future of Economics
by Robert Skidelsky
Mainstream economists nowadays might not be particularly good at predicting financial crashes, facilitating general prosperity, or coming up with models for preventing climate change, but when it comes to establishing themselves in positions of intellectual authority, unaffected by such failings, their success is unparalleled. One would have to look at the history of religions to find anything like it. To this day, economics continues to be taught not as a story of arguments—not, like any other social science, as a welter of often warring theoretical perspectives—but rather as something more like physics, the gradual realization of universal, unimpeachable mathematical truths.
The simultaneous embrace of markets, and of rules and regulations, represents the soul of what’s sometimes called “centrism.” It’s a decidedly unlovely combination. Nobody truly likes it. But the talking classes had reached an absolute consensus that no politicians who departed significantly from it could possibly win elections. Labour’s left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was thus declared “unelectable.” Former leader Tony Blair even openly stated that he would rather see his own party defeated than come into power on Corbyn’s leftist platform. But if the results of the 2019 election mean anything, they reveal an overwhelming rejection of centrism. The center of British politics has become a smoldering pit.