Monday, May 26, 2014

Economic science: "this magazine of untruth"

The complaint one makes against that anti-social jargon, which so easily passes for economic science, is that it is in ludicrous opposition to the common observation of facts. Political economy professes to be a science based on observation. But the bitter pedantry which often usurps that name usually assumes its facts, after it has rounded off dogmas to suit its clients. In practice this magazine of untruth escapes detection for two reasons. One is that the facts relating to labour are invariably seen through the spectacles of capital. The employing class is virtually in possession of the whole machinery of information; and all judgments are tinged with the tone current among them. Thus we see the very newspapers which celebrate the amusements of the rich in a hundred different forms, scandalized at the coal miners objecting to grub in the pits every day in the week. Laziness, ingratitude, and extortion, seem the proper terms for sportsmen and fine ladies to apply to the men and children who swelter half their lives underground. The second reason which obscures the truth about industry is, that the facts about capital are almost never honestly disclosed.... -- Frederic Harrison (1872)

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