“Now. All this should have been noticed by three groups of people. Great global institutions, like the World Bank and IMF. Political leaders and economists.”

The World Bank, the IMF, and political leaders all rely on economists.

“…if people’s lives are not growing, but economies are, then the system is broken — and for that reason, we need measures better and truer than GDP now to see into all the above.”

The problem is that economists are disproportionately libertarian-leaning — according to Jonathan Haidt and the Heterodox Academy — particularly in the States. If we take Haidt at his word as regards morality, that most moral thought is post hoc justification of past action (and intended future action, given that past action is how we predict it), then it would make sense that Libertarians would prefer economic models that facilitate their (generally) self-serving morality… and whilst most people in the economy are not thriving from the growth of the economy, Libertarians certainly are.

It reminds me of that delightful quote from Christopher Hitchens:
“I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement [Libertarians] in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.”

Libertarians, straddling the left right divide, as they do, have masterfully sold the hierarchy-reinforcing selfishness to the authoritarian leaders that you speak of here, especially the likes of Roger Stone and the Koch brothers.

In addition to this, the more left-leaning Libertarians have moved some liberals to the right with the flashy-sounding ideas of neo-liberalism — which is both a hyper-politicisation of liberalism, and a regression from true conservatism — from which we get austerity.

Austerity is predicated on the conservative, strict father metaphor (Lakoff). The problem with the idea of austerity is that, in the context of an actual family, ‘tightening one’s belt’ makes absolute sense, but society isn’t a family, and government has access to mechanisms of economic stimulation that families don’t. So, whilst liberals also employ a society-as-an-extended-family metaphor, it is one of growth, nurture, and support, which is more compatible with economics at the scale of a country, assuming you want the country, as a collection of individuals, rather than as a monolithic hierarchical system, to extract value and gain wealth.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting a global Libertarian conspiracy. It is just the case that a handful of Libertarians in positions of influence will create environments that are amenable to their preferred values, independently of each other. In doing so they will benefit from each other’s actions, which mostly serve to destabilise traditional conservative hierarchies and pit individuals against each other. This is somewhat ironic given that one of the tenets of Libertarianism is being self-sufficient, and not relying on others.



Psychology graduate with interests in values and morality, cognition and executive function, and High Functioning Depression. Kiwi living in London, UK.

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Alan Duval, MBPsS

Alan Duval, MBPsS

Psychology graduate with interests in values and morality, cognition and executive function, and High Functioning Depression. Kiwi living in London, UK.

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