Friday, April 22, 2005

An infinite capacity for self-delusion

Brad DeLong's review of Richard Parker's biography of J K Galbraith has some stuff worth reading (Foreign Affairs, May/June, here).

I like the line: "the businessman's capacity for self-delusion is nearly infinite".

Unlike other people of course.

Good thing there are no businessmen in the current US administration.

One other thing: Galbraith was...Canadian! (of the "Non-potable Scotch" variety).

This had an influence on his character formation and outlook.

This from DeLong is quite astute:

Galbraith would say, sardonically, that [the US] national self-image is just another fraudulent piece of conventional wisdom-nurtured by the delusional, who cannot see reality, and the rich, who see it all too well but know that such delusions make them richer and more powerful. And Galbraith would be more than half right. But this self-image is also a very powerful social fact, and this more than anything else explains his waning influence on U.S. politics. It is not that the Democratic establishment has lost its nerve or been seduced by law firms and lobbyists; it is that the old Horatio Alger myth has proved extraordinarily durable.

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