Paul Krugman, Warrior-Economist

28 Apr 2012

Jonathan Chait for the New York Magazine:

The most remarkable attribute [Paul] Krugman has brought to the [New York] Times is rudeness. The social niceties that accompany his exalted position are utterly lost on him. He does not seek out the company of famous politicians and cannot be courted with flattery or access. He understands that you can’t arrive at truth without explaining why mistaken beliefs are wrong.

Krugman is an unabashed liberal and he does not apologize for his views nor the manner by which he attacks his opposition. He is righteous and therefore an immovable object; he will not compromise, because to do so would separate him from the truth. It is a thoroughly Republican view of politics: stand firm – either your opponent will cave or the ground beneath you will.

I am not convinced that this is an effective method for governance in a democracy, since issues are rarely so simple as to be a choice between binaries – the reality of a two-party system in the United States does not mean that there are necessarily only two viable options – but Krugman’s style of argument certainly stands in stark opposition to numerous ineffective liberal voices. While others practice middle ground politics or write columns full of politeness, Krugman stands on his roof throwing stones daring others to attack him on his terms. Where others broker deals and agree to disagree, he champions causes with a forcefulness more akin to a warrior than a columnist.

Agree or disagree on his politics, but you cannot deny the strength of his voice.