Greenspan’s Faith: Ideology trumps Science

  • Thread starter coberst
  • Start date
  • #1
298
0
Greenspan’s Faith: Ideology trumps Science

American novelist Walker Percy observed, “As long as I am getting rich, I feel well. It is my Presbyterian blood.”

“When a man seeks to accommodate science to a viewpoint which is derived not from science itself (however erroneous it might be) but from the outside, from alien, external interests, then I call him base.” Marx

I claim that Greenspan shares a significant responsibility for our economic collapse because he was a trusted guru who twisted the social economic theories of capitalism into an ideological form that is often referred to as laissez-fair capitalism.

A base writer is one who lacks professional integrity. A base writer is primarily, perhaps only, interested in reaching a partisan conclusion regardless of the scientific theory.


There are two types of base writers: there is the ‘hired-gun’ who has no intellectual convictions but uses her talents in the service of the highest bidder; then there is the writer with strong intellectual convictions and strong biases who uses her talents to distort facts to fit her faith.

“For Marx, then, the ‘base’ writers have no intellectual integrity…It is evident in the way they ignore counterevidence, select some and suppress other facts, twist their arguments to reach the desired conclusions, and so on.”

Marx also elaborates on another kind of apologist. The vulgar writer is a superficial philistine confining himself to the surface of society, unwilling to dig any deeper. “If there were no difference between essence and appearance, there would be no need for science…Marx argues that the task of the scientist is to analyze the phenomenal forms of an entity, elucidate its essential nature and tendencies, and use the knowledge so acquired to explain its phenomenal behavior.”

I think that Greenspan is a “base” official who is “vulgar” in his management. That is to say that Greenspan is plagued with what might be called “apologetic dread”; that truth might well turn out go be unpalatable to him. This is the dread “found not only among the economists but also among the philosophers, the historians, the political theorists and others, and further, that they may be not only conservative but also radical in their political biases.”

I think that the American culture is ideologically constituted in such an extent that whoever lacks sophisticated critical thinking skills is condemned to becoming an apologist. I also think that even those with sophisticated critical thinking skills, such as I assume Greenspan to have, are greatly influenced by a desire to be loved and respected by all apologists and uncritical society in general.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,929
2,246
There's plenty of responsibility to go around, and Alan Greenspan was one small part of it.

How about the Congresspersons or Treasury Secretary who never challenged Greenspan. Or the financial CEOs, managers, personel who failed in due diligence, fiduciary responsibility, and/or ethical responsibility.

Or the people who over extended and attempted to live beyond their means, or fraudulently secured mortgages.

My biggest surprise is that Alan "Mr. Irrational Exhuberance" Greenspan is shocked. How can he be surprised or shocked about the propensity of greed on Wall Street?
 
  • #3
russ_watters
Mentor
19,948
6,440
coberst, I don't see anything in that post that even attempts to support your main thesis. You made no attempt at all to show how he "twisted the social economic theories of capitalism into an ideological form that is often referred to as laissez-fair capitalism" or, for that matter, what exactly that form was.

Most of the post is actually just more assertions that aren't supported and don't appear to have any relevance to the thesis anyway.
 
  • #4
298
0
coberst, I don't see anything in that post that even attempts to support your main thesis. You made no attempt at all to show how he "twisted the social economic theories of capitalism into an ideological form that is often referred to as laissez-fair capitalism" or, for that matter, what exactly that form was.

Most of the post is actually just more assertions that aren't supported and don't appear to have any relevance to the thesis anyway.
Article from Washington Post

Greenspan Says He Was Wrong On Regulation
Lawmakers Blast Former Fed Chairman

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/23/AR2008102300193.html?hpid=topnews

Alan Greenspan, once viewed as the infallible architect of U.S. prosperity, was called on the carpet yesterday, pilloried by a congressional committee for decisions that contributed to the financial crisis devastating world markets.

The former chairman of the Federal Reserve said the crisis had shaken his very understanding of how markets work, and agreed that certain financial derivatives should be regulated -- an idea he had long resisted.

When he stepped down as Fed chairman less than three years ago, Congress treated Greenspan as an oracle, one of the great economic statesmen of all time. Yesterday, many members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee treated him as a hostile witness.
 
  • #5
Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
14,916
19


I'm confused; the title is about Greenspan, but the opening post almost seems to be more concerned with Marx. :tongue:
 
  • #6
russ_watters
Mentor
19,948
6,440
Article from Washington Post
I only skimmed it, but I don't see anything in that article that addresses your thesis. You have to make your own arguments here, coberst. This is one of the main problems in this forum - why your threads often go nowhere. Your writing is rambling/unfocused.
 
  • #7
298
0
I'm confused; the title is about Greenspan, but the opening post almost seems to be more concerned with Marx. :tongue:

The OP is primarily about how social theory becomes ideology.
 
  • #8
298
0
I only skimmed it, but I don't see anything in that article that addresses your thesis. You have to make your own arguments here, coberst. This is one of the main problems in this forum - why your threads often go nowhere. Your writing is rambling/unfocused.
We can "see" only what we are prepared to "see". I seek to stretch the vision of my readers. The reader must bring something to the party if s/he wishes to grow.
 
  • #9
Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
14,916
19


The OP is primarily about how social theory becomes ideology.
Okay. What in the original post addresses this topic? When I read it, I see:
. A review of Marxist philosophy
. Allegations against Greenspan
. Sweeping claims about American culture
Furthermore, the intent you stated in this quote is suggested neither by your opening title, nor by your introductory statements.


We can "see" only what we are prepared to "see". I seek to stretch the vision of my readers. The reader must bring something to the party if s/he wishes to grow.
A Delphic oracle you are not. It is not the reader's responsibility to supply your argument. If you don't want to put effort into your topic, why should anyone else?
 
Last edited:
  • #10
OrbitalPower
Greenspan himself has admitted it was ideology that had failed him:

But on Thursday, almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending.

“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief,” he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
...

“You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

Mr. Greenspan conceded: “Yes, I’ve found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I’ve been very distressed by that fact.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/b...l?_r=3&hp&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Notice how he says a resounding "Yes" to the question that his ideology made him make decisions that he now likely would not have made. According to the Waxman, he was warned by numerious people that his lending practices were a receipe for disaster.

Greenspan here is being rather candid and he goes on to say that this "intellectual edifice" collapsed this past summer. Really, Greenspan was a far-right, laissez-faire, Randian ideologue, who is now trying to save face a little bit by at least admitting he was wrongly guided by ideology - and is trying to offer solutions.

The real truth, though, coberst, is that capitalism is a failed system. It cannot be "reformed" to work in such a way that it is always prosperous, and its history is replete with these "boom and bust" models and examples. The fact is, the system is inherently unstable, sloppy and imperfect. It is an abomination to reality; in the real world, all that matters is who has the leverage. That's the simple political science explanation. Whoever has the leverage wins. The Free Market is just there to manipulate human nature, and for an elite "upper class" to maintain control of the resources nearly 90%. The further you go back in history, the more you realize that property is a misappropriation of resources by a select few.

Millions have also died under it from wars and starvation, so from a humanist perspective you cannot support such a system. A real human system would have plenty of fair rules and laws, enforced level playing fields, and so on.

Only then could you achieve the Adam Smith idea of having strong and powerful workers and laborers, the "market" way has clearly been a dismal failure.
 
  • #11
Hurkyl
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
14,916
19


The real truth, though, coberst, is that capitalism is a failed system. ...
I didn't realize that the success / failure of capitalism was the topic of the thread. While I admit that I'm not fully aware of what the topic actually is, this does look like you're trying to hijack the thread to push your own agenda.

Or... were you offering an example of ideology trumping reason? :wink:
 

Related Threads on Greenspan’s Faith: Ideology trumps Science

  • Last Post
2
Replies
38
Views
5K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
4
Replies
76
Views
11K
  • Last Post
4
Replies
90
Views
6K
  • Last Post
6
Replies
135
Views
10K
  • Last Post
10
Replies
235
Views
31K
Replies
72
Views
6K
  • Last Post
4
Replies
99
Views
9K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
33
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Poll
  • Last Post
Replies
14
Views
3K
Top