Paul Krugman takes a step to clearer vision & reform of America

Summary: Paul Krugman made a remarkable admission for a political columnist in America, one that points the way to a path for the reform of America. He took a step towards seeing that there is no “reality-based party” in America.

Eye of the hurricane


“… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
— Matthew 7:5.

Today both Left and Right routinely “create their own reality”. The Right invented and perfected this methodology to mobilize their followers, creating engines of disinformation such as Fox News and the Washington Times (examples here and here). The Left has copied them, making this the primary tactic for their crusades. The most obvious example is the fight against climate change, where the Left has liberated themselves from dependence on the consensus of climate scientists (as expressed through the IPCC and major climate agencies). Unusual weather (no matter if historically common) is extreme weather is climate change is anthropogenic climate change — because they say so loudly and with conviction.

Tribal Truth

“Yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
— Leo Tolstoy in “Three Methods Of Reform” (1900).

This acceptance of propaganda makes us a gift to our leaders. It makes us docile, weak, emotional, irrational, easily manipulated and led.

We see this clearly when it comes to the other side’s propaganda. That accomplishes nothing, and our disconnect with reality — the core break in our observation-orientation-decision-action loop — makes reform impossible. People can only fix this problem in their own community.

Which brings us to the latest from Paul Krugman – Nobel Laureate economist, hard core liberal, Democratic Party hack, and #5 on Prospect magazine’s 2015 list of the world’s top “thinkers”.

Paul Krugman has an epiphany, taking a small step towards clearer vision

“And this suggests to me that we may need a clarification of the doctrine that facts have a well-known liberal bias. More specifically, they seem to have a center-left bias: conservatives are big on empirical denial, but so is some of the U.S. left.”

— Krugman in “The Facts Have A Well-Known Center-Left Bias“, NYT, 9 May 2016.

It is a big step for straight-party line Krugman — who usually sees Left as right and Right as wrong —  to admit that members of his tribe are “big on empirical denial”. It’s a small step, in effect more narrowly re-defining his tribe of truth-tellers as the “center-left”. Perhaps the clear-sighted ones are those who think like Paul Krugman. Another round or two of this and the only clear-sighted one will be Paul Krugman.

Let’s be optimistic and assume this is just a first step for Krugman — that he becomes a leader for America by seeing beyond the lines dividing the two polarized teams that play American politics. He might come to regard his tribe’s truths with skepticism, and become open to the possibility that the other side might sometimes say something reasonable.

What kind of American might result if others follow his lead? We might learn from each other, no longer following our tribal leaders like baby ducks. We might forge alliances capable of defeating the 1%, such as the progressive-populist alliance at the heart of the New Deal. Who can say what the future might hold for us?


For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about tribalism, about Reforming American (steps to a new politics), and especially these…

  1. At the Tampa Convention Right & Left display our great illness: Tribalism.
  2. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
  3. Facts are the enemy of both Left and Right in our America.
  4. The story of America: what’s wrong and how to fix it.
  5. Examples of blind allegiance to tribal truths, keeping us weak & ignorant.

Reflecting on Truth

7 thoughts on “Paul Krugman takes a step to clearer vision & reform of America”

  1. You give Krugman far too much credit. He is more polemicist than analyst, IMHO. I cannot say it better than one of the articles commenters:

    “The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.” “Truth becomes untruth if uttered by your enemy.” “To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance.”

    In the name of Orwell, Krugman has decided to wage epistemic war on the far left, declaring it as irrational and unserious as anything on the right, and thus rendering unnecessary any detailed debate about policies such as single-payer, free tuition, optimal minimum wages, bank reform, etc. Yet many of these policies were once defended by Krugman himself. No more. Perhaps he should review some of the more explicit statements by Orwell (above) rather than crudely declaring everything he disagrees with Orwellian.

      1. What can I say? It is what I take to be Bernie supporters who are saying this. Presumably they see him as a shill for Clinton.

  2. Krugman is a ‘soothsayer’ among the ruling class. Just a mixture of Stalinist with Progressivist ‘teachings’ thrown in.
    Krugman is really just a tool.

    1. Robert,

      People play many roles, and cannot be reduced to such a simple stereotype. Krugman is a great economist, hence his Nobel. He is also an insightful political observer, limited by his biases which reduce him to a hack. That’s a commonplace among social scientists, and especially so among economists.

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