“I believe that ideas are important. Ideas shape behaviour—the behaviour of governments, of bureaucracies, of business, of unions, of the media and of individuals. As Keynes wrote in his General Theory:
“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slave of some defunct economist.”
Debate, therefore, about fundamental ideas, particularly ideas about the proper role of the state in the economy and society, is critical to an informed discussion about policy. For nearly a decade now it has become fashionable to accept the death of ideology, the triumph of neoclassical economics, the politics of convergence and the rise of managerialism. Put crudely, it is the view that, because parties of the traditional Right and traditional Left have now moved to some mythical place called the `Centre’, all that is left is an essentially technocratic decision between one team of managers against another, both operating within a common, or at least similar, mission statement. Politics on this argument becomes little more than theatre—a public performance necessary to convince the shareholders at the AGM that the company needs new management.”
Guess who? No, seriously, guess. No cheating.