Monday, 4 May 2020

Are most human beings zombies?

I have a friend who says he often puts comments on a widely read economics blog. The blog owner is vehemently opposed to a particular economics think tank and throws hissy fits at any mention of the name of the think tank.

Yet my friend says his comments regularly support THE IDEAS promoted by the think tank without actually mentioning the NAME OF the think tank. But that elicits no response from the owner of the blog. (I won’t mention the name of the blog or think tank for obvious reasons).

This is identical to an experience I have for a long time had with supporters of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), which is that they go beserk at the mention of NAIRU, but are not the least bothered by the mention of the BASIC IDEA behind the acronym NAIRU, which is simply that there is a relationship between inflation and unemployment (in the broadest sense of the acronym NAIRU).

Incidentally I have long supported MMT, while recognising that many if not most of its supporters, like the supporters of other movements, can’t do much more than “mantra repetition.”

This all suggests that most of the human race are happy to join some movement or ideology because they think it’s fashionable, without having any real clue as to what the IDEAS that underpin the ideology are. Their aim is simply to join a crowd which is chanting a particular mantra.

And that’s probably the motive for joining a religion and attending a religious buildings where people chant the same words and phrases over and over and over and over. Much the same goes for political movements, whether it’s Hitler’s followers chanting “Sieg Heil” or whatever.
A very similar phenomenon is observable with lefties who are mesmerised by long, important sounding, multi-syllabic words: e.g. xenophobia, multi-culturalism, Islamo-phobia, sustainable, etc which they repeat over and over.  Not of course that the political right is any less into mantra repetition than the political left.

And I’ll leave the last word to William Hazlitt, who said “Defoe says that there were a hundred thousand country fellows in his time ready to fight to the death against popery, without knowing whether popery was a man or a horse.”

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