Working Paper No. 06-35:
Economic Salvation in a Restive Age: The Demand for Secular Salvation Has Not Abated
Date Posted: 2006
In our restive era, the quest for individual salvation has not abated. With religion among educated elites becoming personalized and nonjudgmental, during the past century traditional belief largely gave way to the seeking of salvation in "scientific" socialism, immersion in the self, altruistic expertise, and the creation of institutions that liberate individuals' capacity for action. After Marxism imploded and narcissism became stale, only altruistic expertise and liberating institutions remained. The author encapsulates these approaches in modern economics, juxtaposing the works of Paul Samuelson representing modern progressivism, and Milton Friedman, representing libertarianism.
After discussing Cambridge progressivism and Chicago libertarianism as alternative paths to secular salvation, the author notes that recent developments in disciplines such as neurobiology, and increasing awareness of concepts such as factor price equalization and cost benefit analysis, give economists even more scope as secular oracles.