Friday, May 12, 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith: View From the Moderate Left

From the website of the Democratic Leadership Council, a critique of the late Professor John Kenneth Galbraith in the form of a review of Richard Parker’s biography of the very haughty, very leftist economist.

Reviewer Fred Siegel’s conclusion: it is the nasty elitism of Galbraith that makes him no sort of intellectual guide nor mentor for today’s Democratic Party.
Galbraith’s most enduring legacy, his intellectual rigidity aside, may be the special sense of style he brought to liberal politics. In The Affluent Society, he spoke of a “new class” of professionals, men and woman of expertise like himself, to whom he entrusted the future of the republic. It was their ability to see beyond what he derisively described as “the conventional wisdom” that entitled them to govern. Those professionals, certain of their moral and intellectual superiority, still speak in Galbraithian cadences about the “silliness” of their opponents. Conservatives have largely broken free of the hauteur of Galbraith’s famous sparring partner, William F. Buckley Jr., but liberals, thanks partly to Galbraith, are still trapped in the vanquished certainties of a bygone age.

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