Saturday, November 07, 2015

Dumb and dumber

It may be nearly four months old, but this article on so-called "deficit fetishism" by Jonathan Hopkin and Ben Rosamond remains both relevant and engaging. The authors' starting point is to ponder why the electorate appears to have swallowed the Tories' austerity "bullshit" (a term they use in a technical sense) despite all the evidence that undermines it. Ultimately, they conclude, it's a seductive narrative in many ways, not least because it's relatively straightforward amidst a proliferation of more complex, nuanced perspectives.

Since the article was published, they would no doubt have been pleased to have seen Jeremy Corbyn elected as Labour leader, in light of his opposition to the narrative. A large part of the reason it's been able to gain traction and flourish, of course, is down to Ed Miliband's apparent inability to avoid its lure himself. One of the commenters makes the valid point that there's a risk of overstating the power of bullshit and making the classic mistake of underestimating the intelligence of the electorate. Have people been naively duped into buying the tale the Tories are peddling, or did they make a rational decision to return the Tories to power because the alternative was, at the time, even more dismal? It's a question to which the authors' response would be interesting.

(Thanks to Terry for the link.)

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