Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit, Economists, and Empathy

When a fiasco as tumultuous as Brexit is visited upon the world, one of the most basic and predictable human impulses is to point fingers. Already the opinion-sphere is alight with stentorian treatises about every prospective social cause for yesterday’s vote in Britain, from apathy to xenophobia. What these missives have in common are two things: their proclivity to blame the voters themselves, rather than the conditions which led to their vote, and the absence of any call for prescriptive adaptation on the part of the policymakers whose actions created those conditions in the first place. This tendency to acquit the table-setters of bad group-think is as durable as it is counterproductive—going back at least as far as 1930s-era Germany—and it has to stop.

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