Dani Rodrik, Forerunner of Mounting Tyranny
We all make errors at one time or another. I may one day write about mine, but it will be too long for a post. For the moment, I want to speak about those of Dani Rodrik, the well-known professor at Harvard’s School of Government. His 2017 book Straight Talk on Trade is a compendium of his errors and those of his fellow establishment members, who together constitute a sort of symbolic John the Baptist as a forerunner of the mounting tyranny.
Thinking of a comment on another of my posts, I was led to reread my Regulation review of Rodrik’s Straight Talk on Trade. I am not unhappy with what in French we may call an “envolée littéraire“—which, according to a knowledgeable friend, translates into “a flight of literary fancy” without any pejorative connotation:
Although he portrays himself as a dissenter against “the establishment,” “the elites,” and “the reigning market fundamentalist ideology,” Rodrik is a good representative of the privileged few who have ruled America and most Western countries since the 1960s: half‐capitalist and half‐socialist, half‐populist and half‐elitist, half‐democratic and half‐authoritarian, half‐free‐trade and half‐fair‐trade, half‐postmodern and half‐moralizing, half‐bourgeois and half‐punk. Such folks have spent more than a half‐century burdening people with a dense network of regulation and surveillance, continually bossing ordinary people around, and pragmatically building a half‐police‐state. How was that different from the “case‐by‐case, hard‐headed pragmatism” that Rodrik advocates?
Contrary to what he claims, it is not free‐traders who have provoked the populist reaction, but the privileged class of which he is himself a member. It is because of people like him that populist and protectionist Trump was elected.
In the forthcoming Fall issue of Regulation, out of (Guttenberg and virtual) press later this month, a feature of mine emphasizes another aspect of the phenomenon: the continuity between “Trumponomics” and “Bidenomics.”