26 September, 2020

Come On, It's Not As Bad As That

When the sun rises in the east, it's the West that has to worry about the darkness. Why be glum, Mr Jha?

Come On, It's Not As Bad As That
Unlike poetry, economics is not a 'gay science', said Thomas Carlyle. Not even just a "dreary, desolate and quite abject and distressing one". Rather, said Carlyle famously, economics is "what we might call the dismal science".

Economists have long argued why Carlyle took such a dim view of their discipline, often blaming it on the pessimism of 18th century English economists like David Ricardo or Robert Malthus about the prospects for sustained growth.

But, if anyone has any doubt why economics is still called a "dismal science", all you have to do is pick up Prem Shankar Jha's latest offering, The Twilight of the Nation State: Globalisation, Chaos and War. Jha is a cherubic, bubbly, cheerful sort of person who knows how to laugh. So, it's not clear why he's written a book that ends with a last chapter ominously titled, 'Towards Darkness'.

I am not a psychoanalyst and will not look for Freudian explanations for Jha's overwhelming pessimism about the current state of world affairs, and the human prospect. Especially because he has secured approval for his...



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