Ritchie decides to critique the Washington Consensus.
It\’s the usual amusement from him, anything which reduces the power of the State is bad m\’kay?
But what\’s really fun is that he uses as his source document this. Which is a very good source document indeed, showing that a goodly portion of the things Ritchie complains about aren\’t in fact part of the consensus he\’s complaining about.
It also contains this lovely point:
The third interpretation of the term “Washington Consensus” uses it as a synonym
for neoliberalism or market fundamentalism. This I regard as a thoroughly objectionable
perversion of the original meaning. Whatever else the term “Washington Consensus”
may mean, it should surely refer to a set of policies that command or commanded a
consensus in some significant part of Washington, either the US government or the IFIs
or both, or perhaps both plus some other group. Even in the early years of the Reagan
administration, or during Bush 43, it would be difficult to contend that any of the
distinctively neoliberal policies, such as supply-side economics, monetarism, or minimal
government, commanded much of a consensus, certainly not in the IFIs. And it would be
preposterous to associate any of those policies with the Clinton administration. Yet most
of the political diatribes against the Washington Consensus have been directed against
this third concept, with those using the term this way apparently unconcerned with the
need to establish that there actually was a consensus in favor of the policies they love to
Which is just what Ritchie has done.
Which leads to the question: does he actually read his own source documents?
Apparently the idea of homo economicus should be buried as well. Ritchie himself links to that page BTW:
Homo economicus is seen as \”rational\” in the sense that well-being as defined by the utility function is optimized given perceived opportunities. That is, the individual seeks to attain very specific and predetermined goals to the greatest extent with the least possible cost. Note that this kind of \”rationality\” does not say that the individual\’s actual goals are \”rational\” in some larger ethical, social, or human sense, only that he tries to attain them at minimal cost.
I find it very hard indeed to understand why we\’d want to junk that description of human beings. Can someone explain it to me please?