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.”