report: Pack on Gilder

Lisa Rogers eqwq.lrogers at email.state.ut.us
Mon Nov 27 17:53:21 MST 1995


Somebody on this list [sorry I forget who] once recommended the
article _Schumpeter plus optimism equals Gilder (ceteris paribus)_ by
Spencer J. Pack, HistPolEcon 19:469-80, 1987 no.3.

I have now read it.  I know next to nothing about Schumpeter, so I
hope that Pack has presented his work fairly.  Without assuming that
Gilder ever read Schumpeter, Pack points out some reverse-parallels. 
Schumpeter thought that capitalism was bound to fall because
entrepeneurism would end up unrewarded by capitalism, so it would
decrease, the bourgeois family will "breakdown" and rationalism
developed by C'ism will be turned against it.

Gilder acknowledges that these things are a problem for Cism,
[without framing it as a reply to S or referring to S, but the
parallel is there] but he has a prescription that will save and
strengthen Cism!

The main one I want to highlight here is his recommendation that we
return to religion!!  I find this almost eery, in light of the
Republican/Religious Right unified campaign that has trompled the
nation since Gilder wrote that in 1981.  

Like S, G finds that there is rampant rationalism which is
threatening Cism.  Unlike S, G finds that it is not generated by Cism
itself.  Gilder thinks it is "rational" to avoid risk, but for the
sake of Cism and their own profitis entrepeneurs must take "risks". 
"...all creativity requires a leap of imagination and faith."

So, "We do not need "myths" so much as we need religious beliefs,
which for all their dubious "irrationality" bear in their symbolic
depths the greatest of pragmatic and historic truths.  They tell us
that free humans with faith in the future and a commitment to it will
prevail."  

Faith in the future of capitalism, that is.  Not just religion in
general, or any religion in particular, but religious beliefs that
_support capitalism_ and encourage entrepeneurship, that's what
capitalism needs.  

Gilder also joins in that swelling refrain from the christian/islamic
reactionary rightwing, to condemn "women who work" for the "breakdown
of the family".  You see, it is women's and children's dependence
upon _men_ that helps to force men to work harder to make money, thus
making capitalism prosper.  That's why the low birth rate, which is
also women's fault, is also a problem for Cism.  See, if we all had
more children [but women work for no cash] then the men would _have_
to make more money to support the more kids.  

_Barron's_ called it "the seminal economic work of the decade."
[somebody get that Barron's author a towel.]
David Stockman [remember him?] called it "Promethean in its
intellectual power and insight."
_Forbes_ called it "the cutting edge for economic policy in the
Reagan administration."

Holy shit, Batman.  And here I had assumed that (in the lack of other
evidence) the marriage of the religious rightwing and the GOP was
just a marriage of mutual profit.  Well, it is, but I didn't know if
there was a specific genius behind the idea.  Maybe it would have
happened anyway, it seems such a "natural" match, even without
Gilder.

The parallel with NOI promotion of entrepeneurial business_men_
stands out a bit.  As well as the blame-the-woman for "men's"
problems, in common with the Promise-keepers, the Christian
Coalition, the NOI, etc. 

Pack could have titled an article "George Gilder as Prophet."

Thanks for the recommend of the reading, hope y'all liked my report.



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