The fate of the economist

Image: Mike Bird


Economic language is a continuous process of death that first kills its host and then spreads wherever it finds space.

I decided to be an economist when I was around four years old, following a devastating event. It was an afternoon in the early 2000s, my mother and I were in the car, stopped at a traffic light on some avenue in Belo Horizonte, when I observed, through the window, the appearance of another child, around my age, “begging for alms.” ”.

I found that funny. Curious. And, like a legitimate child, I approached the adult in the room – my mother – with questions: “after all, what was 'begging'? Some kind of joke?”, to which it was explained to me that it was not a joke at all, what the boy wanted was money because he was poor; “but then where were his father and mother? Was he alone on the street?”, According to my mother, it was possible that he was, but there could also be other children begging in his company; “and how would he get home?”, then Dona Rosana revealed to me that maybe that boy slept on the street, because he lived far away, or that maybe he didn’t even have a home!

This was certainly the hardest horror story of my childhood. I, who had already despaired after losing my mother in the supermarket for a moment, discovered there that there were children whose lives were this eternal and distressing helplessness. At this point in the championship, it was already too late. The car window and maternal protection could even try to separate my world from that of the other child, but these dividers were not distress-proof. They were not able to shield the deep anguish, the visceral discomfort, that took over me and that has constituted me since then.

It's true that at four years old I still didn't know what economics was (much less economist), however, as I got older, I became familiar with languages, terms and concepts such as social inequality, justice, ethics, philosophy and... economics , which somehow accounted for this restlessness that had taken over me. So, at the age of fourteen it was already clear to me that I would end up studying economic sciences, social sciences, philosophy or history.

The impatience of my restlessness, which in rare moments gave way to respite, forced me to choose the economics course. The sense of urgency in seeking to resolve this anguish that, despite appearing to be mine, constituted every space where there were people (it was objectively social), I longed for concrete, immediate explanations and solutions, in such a way that being admitted into the world of noble sciences Economic economics seemed to me the most efficient way to deal a fatal blow to the original cause of my anguish, the conditions that made, not only possible, but necessary, the existence of poor children, or better yet, the existence of poverty itself.

After all, economists are powerful, aren't they? Pompous men in suits, who can understand the moods and wills of the god Money, the only deity to which everyone is faithful, and, through this transcendental connection, express his commandments in a language indecipherable to mortals. Beautiful graphics, ugly equations and a political authority that would make medieval bishops envious. That was the power of the economist that I wanted, to use for good.

What took me a while to discover, however, was that, despite being powerful, economists have a damned power. “Economic science” (that’s what it likes to be called) is a curse. Economic language is a continuous process of death that first kills its host, the economist himself, and then spreads wherever it finds space, in such a way that, at a certain moment, without realizing it, we are all speaking and thinking in Economist. , regardless of whether we actually understand “economics”.

Diving into the world of “economic science” and seeking to master its language was, in fact, the most harrowing path possible. I learned that we don't master economic language, it dominates us. I learned that, as a rule, one does not study “economic science” to find freedom in this chaotic and brutal world, on the contrary, we study it to become its better-behaved servants, to adapt to this brutality and deceive ourselves and others , trying to convince that there is no chaos at all, there are, at most, a few pieces out of place. The economist is, after all, a professional deceiver.

The young man who took the economics course because he wanted to be rich, the guy who took the course because he wanted to bury (or at least civilize) poverty – my case and the dazzled man who chose the course simply because he was enchanted by the eloquence of the suits.” of the market” that inhabit the media, armed with their fancy graphics and numbers, all converge towards the same tragic destiny, of a gray life, offensive to everything that is truly alive.

What may be of comfort to economists is the knowledge that “economic science” is increasingly successful in its mission, so much so that it is safe to say that, nowadays, the economist's fate is no longer his alone, it is the fate of each and every one of us, citizens of the empire of cynicism, where miserable children wandering the streets are as natural as the law of supply and demand – or the law of inertia.

*Estevam Peixoto He is majoring in economics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

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