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Truth, Errors, and Lies

Truth, Errors, and Lies: Politics and Economics in a Volatile World

Translated from the Polish by William R. Brand
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    Truth, Errors, and Lies
    Book Description:

    Grzegorz W. Kolodko, one of the world's leading authorities on economics and development policy and a key architect of Poland's successful economic reforms, applies his far-reaching knowledge to the past and future of the world economy, introducing a framework for understanding our global situation that transcends any single discipline or paradigm.

    Deploying a novel mix of scientific evaluation and personal observation, Kolodko begins with a brief discussion of misinformation and its perpetuation in economics and politics. He criticizes the simplification of complex economic and social issues and investigates the link between developments in the global economy and cultural change, scientific discoveries, and political fluctuations. Underscoring the necessity of conceptual and theoretical innovation in understanding our global economic situation, Kolodko offers a provocative study of globalization and the possibility of coming out ahead in an era of worldwide interdependence. Deeply critical of neoliberalism, which sought to transfer economic control exclusively to the private sector, Kolodko explores the virtues of social-economic development and the new rules of the economic game. He concludes with a look at our near and distant future, questioning whether we have a say in its making.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52156-7
    Subjects: Business, Philosophy, History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. The Navigator
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The World, Words, and Meaning: Where Truth, Errors, and Lies in Economics and Politics Come from and What to Do to Make Truth Come First
    (pp. 1-25)

    ECONOMISTS are supposed to describe and explain what’s happening. The best ones know what’s going on and can convince us. Problems begin to crop up when they

    Know, but cannot convince us.

    Don’t know but try to convince us anyway.

    Know that things are different from what they are trying to convince us of.

    In the first case, there is nothing to do except to try to help them get the message across. Appearances notwithstanding, this is no easy task. The effort needs to be supported by publications, informational programs, teaching, the independent media, progressive nongovernmental organizations, and people of...

  5. CHAPTER TWO How Things Happen: Economic Processes—What Science, Policy, and Happenstance Have to Do with Them and Who Set It Up This Way
    (pp. 26-39)

    THE FORMULATION in the sentence above, as trivial as it sounds, is the key to explaining history that is more or less ancient, as well as what’s happening around us now. More important, it is a basic guide for looking into the future.

    The term futurology suggests that there is a science of the future, but it is in essence only an intellectual exercise. Usually making use of the extrapolation method and the continuation of trends from the past into the future, it consists of drawing up scenarios that could come true. This is not “hard” science. Much more promising...

  6. CHAPTER THREE A Brief History of the World and What We Can Learn from It: Why Some Countries Are Wealthy and Others Poor and Whether It Must Always Be So
    (pp. 40-77)

    THERE IS NO WAY to understand development issues without expanding the temporal context within which we perform the analysis. We are talking about time frames, extending from one point to another, and not merely about the shape of a single vector that disappears into the future. To look forward in any sensible way, we must be good at glancing backward. Everything that was once new becomes old and can disappear entirely over time. This applies to great civilizations and whole empires, as well as to events that may start out being cultural or technological breakthroughs, before being marginalized and, in...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Globalization—and Then What? Where Globalization Originated and How to Come Out Ahead in the Era of Worldwide Interdependence
    (pp. 78-126)

    THIS IS A WAY of expressing the conviction that it is desirable for the functioning and expansion of the world economy to be accompanied by economic good sense, and by authentic concern for the social dimension of governance. It should be read as a suggestion of the direction in which we should move, an emphasis on where we should direct more attention in the future. There can be no doubt that the continuation of globalization following the existing model is impossible. It would lead us into the wilderness, and this would be exceptionally brutal, simply “inhuman,” in the case of...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE The World As It Is: How People Are Coping in Various Corners of a Changing World
    (pp. 127-203)

    WHAT, THEN, does this wonderful world of ours look like? The definition of “horse” in an old Polish dictionary was: “Everyone can see what it’s like.” This is the point of view of ordinary mortals to whom words don’t come easily. Yet the same approach may also serve others. Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), probably the most outstanding figure of the German Renaissance, was a master at drawing what he saw. (He drew an immortal rhinoceros, which served to illustrate zoology lessons until 1939, without ever having seen one.) The German artists knew everything about how to paint and had technical...

  9. CHAPTER SIX The Withering of Neoliberalism and Its Tattered Legacy: Why a Harmful Concept Rose to Temporary Ascendancy in Half the World and What to Do About It
    (pp. 204-255)

    THE WORLD would look far better, and would be more developed and far less unequal, and above all would have far better prospects for the future if not for the powerful wave of neoliberalism that has swept through the last generation. How was it ever possible for an economic and political concept that serves so few at the cost of so many to attain such status and such bargaining power?

    There is a great deal of confusion in economics because, despite the fundamental progress in the discipline over the last few decades, there is still confusion and error with regard...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN What Development Is and What It Depends On: Where Socioeconomic Development Comes from and How It Can Make Us Happy
    (pp. 256-292)

    IT’S NEVER easy to change course in the economy, not so much because we don’t know what we should do as because there’s a lack of the political will to use this knowledge to make the right changes. Above all, we have to know how to make those changes, and that means answering the question, “What do growth and development mean, and what do they depend on?” This is a daunting task, perhaps more so now than ever before. On the one hand, we know more than we did in the past. On he other, the processes of reproduction, that...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Stagnation and Development—Institutions, Policy, and Culture: On the Rules of the Economic Game, Deleterious and Progressive Policies, and the Significance of Culture in Development
    (pp. 293-318)

    CONTEMPORARY capitalism makes rapid learning compulsory. Capitalism is a dreadful system because it makes people work hard, but it is more rational than any other economic regime. It has never been fully rational. It might well be less reasonable now than at some earlier phases in its evolution. It is true that, at a certain stage in the development of the factors of production, when it began taking human capital and technology into account, it became far more rational than the feudalism that preceded it, or the niche forms of natural economy that manufacture goods to meet the direct needs...

  12. CHAPTER NINE The Coincidence Theory of Development and the New Pragmatism: What Output Growth and Economic Development Depend On and How to Make Them Better
    (pp. 319-337)

    THEY SAY that progress in economics occurs following the funerals of the founders of those dominant doctrines that people rather believe than know to be true. Once this could be seen clearly in the case of Keynesianism. Now it is true of the monetarism that economists drag around like a ball and chain. Monetarism has its adherents in powerful publishing houses and on review committees that have a say in publications and the awarding of research grants. In his book about the end of mankind, Francis Fukuyama observes of the backers of any dominant way of thinking that, “as long...

  13. CHAPTER TEN The Uncertain Future: What Awaits Us in the Near and Distant Future and What Say We Have in It
    (pp. 338-420)

    WE ARE CREATING this world for ourselves, more in its cultural and economic dimensions than in the natural one. The more we know and understand, the more we will be able to create. Almost everyone thinks about the future, often with misgivings and apprehension. People are afraid of what they do not understand.

    We have a choice: a future of understanding or a future of misunderstandings. The latter would be, or will be, exceptionally costly for development. What we need to understand, however, is that most of the misunderstandings result not from the “clash of civilizations,” but from the clash...

  14. A Letter
    (pp. 421-424)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 425-440)
  16. Index
    (pp. 441-460)