Taking Krugman to the Woodshed

My friend Brink Lindsey is usually pretty measured in his writing.  So it was entertaining to see him take Paul Krugman out to the woodshed:

How can someone as intelligent and informed as Krugman
concoct an interpretation of the post-World War II era that does such
violence to the facts? How can someone so familiar with the intricate
complexities of social processes convince himself that history is a
simple matter of good guys versus bad guys? Because, for whatever
reason, he has swapped disinterested analysis and scholarship for
ideological partisanship. Here,
in a revealing choice of phrase, he paraphrases Barry Goldwater's
notorious line: "Partisanship in the defense of liberty is no vice."

To be a partisan is, by definition, to see the world partially
rather than objectively: to identify wholeheartedly with the
perspectives of one particular group and, at the extreme, to discount
all rival perspectives as symptoms of intellectual or moral corruption.
And the perspective Krugman has chosen to identify with is the
philosophically incoherent, historically contingent grab bag of
intellectual, interest group, and regional perspectives known as
postwar American liberalism.

Of course, over the period that Krugman is addressing, the contents
of that grab bag have changed fairly dramatically: from
internationalist hawkishness in World War II and the early Cold War to
a profound discomfort with American power in the '70s and '80s to a
jumble of rival views today; from cynical acquiescence in Jim Crow to
heroic embrace of the civil rights movement to the excesses of identity
group politics to a more centrist line today; from sympathy for
working-class economic hardship to hostility to working-class culture
and back again. Yet with a naive zeal that leaves even Cuomo visibly
nonplussed at several points in the interview, Krugman embraces the
shifting contents of this grab bag as the one true path of virtue.

  • http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2007/11/taking-krugman-.html Greg

    The few times I read Krugman I never got the impression that he was particularly well-informed or anything less than a hardcore partisan. He's a fine writer, and he states his views clearly, but that's about it.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    The economically staggering thing about Krugman is that the economic history of the past half-century points markedly in the exact opposite direction of his “arguments” (which are anything but strong), leading one to believe he is either 1) willfully ignorant, 2) stupid, or 3) a combination of both.

    His writings are not consistent lines of thinking displayed by an organized brain.

    Which may help to explain why he got fired from his Council of Economic Advisors job.