Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The death of the invisible hand

As Lakoff notes, metaphor is the embodied basis of thought. So it matters which metaphors we choose to describe our economic reality. We see this playing out in the current US President race, where Trump as individualist hero says only he can fix things. Whereas Clinton's metaphor is that we as a team need to work together. (That Clinton is just spinning to manipulate votes while maintaining the invisible hand job is a story for another day.) Hence see this article on that topic: "The death of the invisible hand." Some excerpts:

"I hope that our economy recovers, but the time has come to declare its guiding metaphor dead. This is the metaphor of the invisible hand, which makes it seem as if the narrow pursuit of self-interest miraculously results in a well-functioning society."

"Theories and metaphors are the cultural equivalent of genes. They influence our behaviors, which have consequences in the real world. [...] To change our behaviors, we need to change our theories and metaphors."

"We also need to change the metaphors that guide behavior in everyday life to avoid the disastrous consequences of our current metaphor-guided behaviors. That is why the metaphor of the invisible hand should be declared dead. Let there be no more talk of unfettered competition as a moral virtue. Cooperative social life requires regulation. Regulation comes naturally for small human groups but must be constructed for large human groups."

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