Sunday, 3 April 2011

Seek and ye shall find

There are two ways to write political economy. One is to be the intrepid explorer, seeking out the truth and constantly revising opinions along the way. Each new mountain of understanding reveals a fresh vista from which to understand the world. Such a writer must know much about what he does not know; changing conclusions becomes a habit, modesty and an aversion to certainty become key characteristics.

The other approach is the seeker of a distinct truth that lies buried at a known point in the jungle. The style of such a writer is to march in a straight line from here to there, scorching the earth, proving all the way why that journey is correct, and leading inexorably to the predetermined destination. Habits of such writers include certainty from the opening page, declarations of others' weaknesses and failings, as well as claims that their work reveals some secret but vital truth about the world.

In our opinion-soaked age, telling the difference between the two is of vital importance.


Oli said...

A welcome return!


matt h2o said...

One hard-to-answer but related question - how much pressure do editors put on writers to turn their texts from the former to the latter? Sadly, my impression is that publishers think that certainty and hyperbole sell better.