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Reihan Salam on Paul Krugman

9:11 AM, Dec 16, 2009 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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From Salam's Agenda blog:

Krugman's rhetorical strategy increasingly relies on bullying. He is a brilliant thinker with a legion of decidedly less-brilliant epigones who has turned a large swathe of the economics blogosphere into a "slagosphere" not unlike the lit blogs that punish and torment fiction writers and essayists who dare to say anything provocative or interesting. Interestingly, Krugman sees himself as a voice of reason braying against a conservative movement he sees as full of racists, reactionaries, and economic Luddites. This from a writer and thinker who proudly writes a lacerating post about a column he refuses to read.

I still think that Krugman has made many valuable contributions not only to economics as a discipline - that is obvious - but also to our public discourse: he brings a valuable, informed perspective to bear on vitally important debates. I welcome that. But his intolerance and his near-constant mischaracterizations of his interlocutors are having a coarsening effect. Moreover, Krugman has enabled the rise of an unthinking, reflexive interventionism that is, in my view, doing real damage to our economy and our democracy by creating unreasonable expectations of what bright, well-intentioned planners can realistically accomplish.

The point about networks is particularly interesting. The incentives in the liberal blogosphere to echo the musings of opinion leaders like Krugman are overwhelming. And when he gets nasty, which he does more and more often, the spectrum of left-liberal opinion shifts with him.