David Brooks, Economic Fabulist by American Litterateur

Mr. David Brooks is a propagandist of certain talent and a man given to self-serving political characterizations, indeed he expresses a positive mania for renaming. Should we consider him a Nominalist? In his essay of May 7, 2012 titled The Structural Revolution, Mr. Brooks describes a philosophical/political conflict between the Structuralists and the Cyclicalists in matters economic. Please don’t confuse his Structuralists with that Parisian intellectual coterie, and the Cyclicalists, simply call it metaphorical/rhetorical clumsiness. Recall the Nutcracker Ballet in which the Mouse King and his army fight the Gingerbread men soldiers: it has some of that flavor, but not the charm of the Petipa libretto. One might also think of a marvelous Grandville illustration, as an act of wish fulfillment. Mr. Brooks little political fable does not even meet the quality these two Fabulists. But there is a certain talent at work here, some illustrative quotations:

A Structuralist defines the problem:

There are several overlapping structural problems. First, there are those surrounding globalization and technological change. Hyperefficient globalized companies need fewer workers. As a result, unemployment rises, superstar salaries surge while lower-skilled wages stagnate, the middle gets hollowed out and inequality grows.

Then there are the structural issues surrounding the decline in human capital. The United States, once the world’s educational leader, is falling back in the pack. Unemployment is high, but companies still have trouble finding skilled workers.”

A Structuralist defines the Cyclicalists and their problems:

Many people on the left are having a one-sided debate about how to deal with a cyclical downturn. The main argument you hear from these cyclicalists is that the economy is operating well below capacity. To get it moving at full speed, the government should borrow and spend more. The federal government is now running deficits of about $1 trillion a year. Some of these cyclicalists believe the deficit should be about $1.4 trillion.

The cyclicalists rail against what they see as American austerity-mongers who resist new borrowing. They really rail against the European ones. They see François Hollande’s victory in France as a sign that, in Europe at least, the pendulum might finally be swinging from austerity to growth.”

The unsurprising last two sentences. The Structuralist defines the Political Future:

Make no mistake, the old economic and welfare state model is unsustainable. The cyclicalists want to preserve the status quo, but structural change is coming.”


American Litterateur




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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