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Showing posts from May 31, 2015

what economists can't see: the invidious effects of methodological individualism

We all begin as welfare recipients. Worse, we begin as stereotypical welfare recipients. We first cause pain to our primary donor, Mom, then we get out there in the world and proceed to make impossible demands, stay up late at night and cause others to stay up late, never work, get addicted first to milk and then often to sugary substances. And all the while we complain complain complain. Of course, this is a modern phenomenon. It used to be that many of us would get out there and start working when we were four. And of course it used to be that our death rate was in the 60 percent. My point is that economists are generally so blind to the real material conditions of everyday life that they are quite comfortable treating generations as independent variables. Thus, we are supposed  to think that the young have interests opposed to the old, and so on. The production of these pseudo social categories is an invidious effect of the economist's disease - methodological individuali

Christopher Taylor is so clever in the London Review of Books

eternal english time Tom McCarthy’s new novel is subject to one of those damnings with finicky praise in this week's London review of Books. The reviewer, Christopher Taylor, has great fun with McCarthy’s pronounced leanings towards Continental Theory.   Of course, Taylor  doesn’t want to be taken for a complete philistine, so he won't be dragged into one of those funny controversies with the sneaky sophists from Europe. Rather, he has cleverly decided that Continental Theory is a fashion, and, to boot, a fashion of the 90s. Apparently, he runs with this motif under the delusion that he is saying something utterly original. I think I can, with justice, call this the “English disease.” It consists of positing two temporal regimes. One regime is that of fashionable ideas. Being fashionable is of their essence. Thus, their entire worth lies in their novelty, which is a tricky temporality, socially speaking. Who wants yesterday's papers? The other temporal regime is imp