Friday, May 13, 2016

Bob Rowthorn Interview

Alan Macfarlane interviews Bob Rowthorn in the video below. Rowthorn had early connections with Cambridge Post Keynesianism, and was then influenced by Marxism from the 1960s and 1970s. Although he is sometimes classified as a Marxist, he now counts himself as an ex-Marxist, and not left-wing but communitarian. Nevertheless, his credentials as a heterodox economist are not in doubt.

Towards the end of the interview, Rowthorn turns to social and political issues. He sees an important social crisis in the West in the collapse of the stable family unit from 1.20.10, and points out that, by and large, the old-style left (especially communist, working class left) was conservative on family social issues. Rowthorn sees the collapse of both trade unions (and the resulting political and economic effects) and the stable family unit as two very severe problems in the West.

And, surprise, surprise, he is not keen on mass immigration either. See also here:
Rowthorn, Robert. 2015. “The Costs and Benefits of Large-Scale Immigration: Exploring the Economic and Demographic Consequences for the UK,” Civitas, December



  2. Interesting that at 1.14.00 he says that he's disillusioned with ENLIGHTENMENT after discussing politically correct speech and Newspeak. He doesn't criticise 'postmodernism' or whatever. He sees that these tendencies to sanitise language and so on are Enlightenment-based. Not counter-Enlightenment. Hamann and Berkeley saw the same thing.

  3. I have noticed in the recent US elections that various conservative candidates have been painted as anti-family people, and some of the Democrat candidates champion themselves as defenders of American tradition.

    It does seem to explain why Trump has risen so much, since he seems to successfully paint his Republican opponents as men who would favour military and corporate interests over the stability of families destroyed by trade agreements and wars.

  4. "Interesting that at 1.14.00 he says that he's disillusioned with ENLIGHTENMENT"

    I just listened. He says he is disillusioned with neoliberal elites, as in New Labour and American liberals, who think of themselves as "enlightened" and who close off free speech. That has a lot to do with regressive left political correctness which (gasp!) in turn comes out of the vicious Postmodernist anti-Enlightenment mentality.

    His subsequent comment that he is now disillusioned with the "Enlightenment" is, of course, a gross non sequitur.

    The best principles of the Enlightenment are precisely:

    (1) strong defence of free speech: "I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" -- though Voltaire did not say actually that, it is nevertheless exactly what sums up the best liberal defence of freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry that is the legacy of the Enlightenment, and

    (2) commitment to objective truth.
    Without (2), no rational science -- whether natural science or social science -- is possible.

    1. 1:15:30

      "So, I've become terribly disillusioned with the whole concept of Enlightenment because it contains within it that individuals have a privileged view of the world. And it is always used as a term for people who support a particular thing. So, they're enlightened and you're not enlightened."

    2. Yep, and that is a non sequitur.

      **Anyone** can learn at least the basics of any supposedly "privileged view of the world" found in the natural sciences or social sciences.

      There is nothing stopping your average Joe from understanding the essence of Darwinian evolution and the overwhelming evidence for it, or astronomy, or botany, or indeed even economics, if they find good blogs and books.

      Hence the big market for popular science books.

    3. Lol. Says the guy insisting that his Enlightenment views are right and Rowthorn's views are a 'non-sequiter'/wrong.

      Proof. Pudding.

    4. "Without (2), no rational science -- whether natural science or social science -- is possible."

      That's false.
      Based on or in accordance with reason or logic - of course both natural science and social science can be done without commitment to objective truth.

      Natural Science: anything from science can be achieved through a commitment to relative truth.
      Make a hypothesis and go about finding evidence for it. Conclude that your findings are the ways things appear to be.

      Social Science: post-modernist and post-structuralist social science.

      These may not be people's preferences, or may make people want to scream at them, but there is absolutely no scientific endeavour that has been undertaken that a truth relativist wouldn't also be able to undertake.

    5. "Based on or in accordance with reason or logic - of course both natural science and social science can be done without commitment to objective truth."


      (1) If you assert that "there are no objective truths," then was that an
      objectively true statement? If not, there is no reason to believe you.

      If it was an objectively true statement you just refuted yourself, you f**king idiot.

      (2) Is it an objective truth that "the Holocaust happened"?

      If not, and you say the truth is merely "relative", you are saying (a) we have no good reason to accept that the evidence shows there was an objective reality in the past and that such a thing really happened, or (b) if there was objective reality, for some unexplained reason we cannot accurately describe what happened in language (the definition of empirical truth).

      You also place yourself in the same category as Holocaust deniers, and admit there is no reason to be remotely concerned by radically inconsistent history books all disagreeing on what happened in the past.

      As for science, with no objective truths, there are no rational reasons not to have faith healing or pyramid medicine or exorcism in the public hospitals. Because they are "relatively" true for some people, right?

      There is no rational reason to defend the germ theory of disease as against alternative pseudo-scientific medical theories, nor the idea the earth revolves around the sun as against geocentrism.

      In short, no rational foundation for science.

    6. No offense dude, but it seems like a technique of yours to go off on major tangents a commenter critiques you on this topic - maybe I’m wrong, but it happens consistently, as you surely can comprehend what you read here.

      No, I’m not a holocaust denier. (I’ll tell you, I did not see that coming.)
      And most of what you said there depends on me being a truth relativist, and I’m not.

      So back to the point.

      I’m simply making the case that it is metaphysically possible to do rational science whether that be social science or natural science and not be committed to objective truth.

      If we find out in the future that Isaac Newton was not committed to objective truth, that wouldn’t mean that what he did was to be regarded as irrational science.

      (Reminder: I’m not a truth relativist)

      If a well known post-structuralist social scientist has a fluctuating commitment to objective truth over time, surely their possibility of doing rational science doesn’t fluctuate also.
      I wouldn’t think that possibility would be so volatile as to peg itself to the mindset of the scientist.

      You did say both social science and natural science, not just natural science, social science too, which includes social constructionism (and many other truth relativistic social sciences).

      Please read this whole post again and understand it before calling me evil.

    7. "And most of what you said there depends on me being a truth relativist, and I’m not."

      You're not a truth relativist or truth subjectivist, but you think science can proceed without the people doing it being committing to objective truth?

      So if a scientist says that the germ theory of disease is not objectively true and we have no reason to believe it or apply it to medicine, according to your f*cked up view of the world, natural science can just proceed without any damage?

      "No, I’m not a holocaust denier. "

      You're not a holocaust denier, but you reject the existence of objective truth? If so, it follows you cannot think that it is objectively true that the holocaust happened.

  5. LK

    i guess anonymous meant that people can get right and objective conclusions about natural science with different metaphysical believes for example newton believed in god but there is an atheists scientisits and scientists from different religions as well and as far as their metaphysical believes dont intervene in the scientific process.

    about social sciences there is 2 things i wanted to tell you

    1.sometimes you can have totally wrong assumptions but with right outcomes (like how paul krugman and joseph stiglits supported stimulus in this time of recession).

    2.history is not really objective the facts which happened are objective but on which facts the historian emphasis his historic research can change your perception on a lot of things.

    as an israeli which know how some people are brainwashed against israel because they are showed only partial facts of the conflict and sometimes even outrage lies history is not that objective while historical facts are objective

  6. LK

    Irrelevant to your current post, but the Bank of England just condemned the idea of Brexit as damaging to the economy.

    Not to use to appeal to authority, but coming from BoE, that is a pretty damaging assesment for the Brexit proposal.

    1. No, that is more likely the Cameron government leaning on the BOE to produce pro-EU propaganda.