Thursday, May 29, 2014

More praise of "knaves, fools, and me" arguments

Brad DeLong reminds us of more of Pete's history of praising - not criticizing - "knaves, fools, and me" arguments. Far from it, in Pete said of the late Charles Rowley that he is principled and speaking truth to power (!!!!!) for writing:
"the Keynesian model never worked; and never will work. It has been resuscitated by opportunistic economists, not because they believe in its merits as an agent of macroeconomic rehabilitation, but because they recognize its political value as a weapon for moving economies from laissez-faire to state capitalism, or (hopefully) beyond that to fully-fledged socialism."
 Opportunistic economists rehabilitated Keynesianism in 2008 in pursuit of fully-fledged socialism?!

This sort of thing ought to be mocked or ignored, but it wasn't - at least not by Pete.

This is an example of an untethered rant, of course. It's not as careful even as Jesse Gastelle's argument about the original Keynesian revolution. But I still maintain we can argue about these sorts of "knave, fools, and me" claims. They are claims about intellectual history and normally we like to argue out intellectual history claims (this is just a very, very bad one that probably doesn't deserve the time of day).

But Pete, if you're going to praise stuff like this you really need to retract your statement about Krugman's post. We have two options here:

1. Grapple with "knaves, fools, and me" claims as potentially real possibilities to be addressed, or
2. Dismiss arguments framed that way generally impolite "conversation stoppers".

I opt for the former, but usually doubt the veracity of most claims of that form. You can't have it both ways.

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