Saturday, March 08, 2008

Oh Noes! I Iz Tainted By Economix!

Hello.[1]

Mango and Fanny Ice-cream for Supper
Monday, a week ago, 3am in the morning in Ho Chi Minh City, sweet mangoes and Fanny's mango derivatives at hand, we were online chatting about the possibility of using economic theory to describe Christian conversion, running aground somewhere between the lack of scarcity of grace/salvation and the zero-line demand of depraved hearts and minds, the resultant universal price-insensitivity, and God being both monopoly and monopsony.

Tonkotsu Ramen for Dinner
4pm that afternoon in Singapore, we were evacuated from a building in Bugis[2] that was swaying in the wake of a Sumatran earthquake. While setting about shovelling down a steaming hot bowl of tonkotsu ramen like a many-armed creature of myth, under a cloud of Marlboro smoke, undergirding talk of the rigour of building codes in Singapore, Jesus ducks in Russia, and the length of tenure of corrupt politicians being proportionally beneficial to the people of that country, was the ghost of Adam Smith.

And how not to notice the bristling of old walrus moustaches at business vehicles far easier to make cross-border bogeymen[2] of than other economic instruments. In place of hardnosed politics and military blood and gore warmed by hotspots, the main dish at client lunches over the past few weeks has been sovereign wealth funds as Jane's choicest centrefold weapon in East-to-West neo-colonialism. Typical of Asians. Take the East India Company model, manufacture it for less and then export it back to the West.

Even in the social world removed from old colonels in walkers, just as, since the Enlightenment, purported truths about the world have been described and discussed under the rubric of reason and science, so it seems that the zeitgeist of the age now favours the use of economic theories for the explication and analysis of non-economic phenomena.

Replacing scientists as scientists once replaced theologians in the popular imagination are undercover economists touting rogue Freakonomics, the explanation of human behaviour by statistical analysis.

This sort of reductivism is not new. It has been going on since the time of Wealth of the Nations and social darwinism versus David Ricardo's comparative advantage, but never marketed as sexily.

What interests me is the current trend of critiquing critical theory, post-structuralism and the amorphorous mass that is variously termed postmodernism, with economic theory.

What is of even greater interest is that in building bridges from the views of this world to the truth, the prevailing zeitgeist of pop economics opens up new vistas for linkways.

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[1] T: now you can say I had you at "Hello".
[2] Incidentally, "bogeymen" was how East India Company sailors described "Bugis men" pirates.

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1 Comments:

At March 10, 2008 4:29 pm , Anonymous rubz said...

you had me at "mango"! ;)

glad your home!

 

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