Richard Posner On The Decline Of The Conservative Movement

I briefly mentioned Richard Posner abandoning conservative economic dogma in a post a few days ago.  Posner is attracting more attention in the liberal blogosphere today with posts from Mathew Yglesias and Jonathan Singer. Posner, author of Capitalism in Crisis, has actually said plenty of things recently which liberal bloggers might find worthy of quoting. It is a recent post on the failings of the conservative movement which is attracting this attention today:

My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation.

By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.

And then came the financial crash last September and the ensuing depression. These unanticipated and shocking events have exposed significant analytical weaknesses in core beliefs of conservative economists concerning the business cycle and the macroeconomy generally. Friedmanite monetarism and the efficient-market theory of finance have taken some sharp hits, and there is renewed respect for the macroeconomic thought of John Maynard Kenyes, a conservatives’ bête noire.

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  1. 1
    Fritz says:

    The Austrians have also fared quite well.    And I’m not sure that I am seeing more respect for Keynes or simply a desperate hope that Keynesian money-dumping will work.

    I think that this debacle reflects far more poorly on our rather deranged notions of corporate governance than on economic theory.  We still don’t have a culture where corporate executives have personal responsibility for destroying the assets of the owners of the corporations.

    Certainly economic theories that rely on humans being  rational actors have a fundamental flaw.  So now those economic decisions will be put in the hands of the government.    Unfortunately, political decisions are at least as irrational as economic ones (Drug War, anyone?), so I don’t have any confidence in our brave new world either.

  2. 2
    Barry says:

    The problem comes when “conservatism” means nothing more than knee-jerk opposition to anything “liberal”: 

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