Through the Looking-Glass

“Politics is downstream from culture.”  We’ve heard this phrase countless times.  But have we understood it?  Are we willing to enter into the subtle and profound worldview it implies?

I am an economist by training.  I received my Ph.D. in 2014 from George Mason University, a program known simultaneously for its commitment to the economic way of thinking and using this thinking in tandem with politics, philosophy, and the humanities.  I am now a professor at Texas Tech University, and a fellow at TTU’s Free Market Institute.

In recent years I have slowly awakened to the importance of practicing economics as a part of the Great Tradition—the conversation reflecting Western man’s self-understanding for more than 2500 years.  This includes recognizing that a society of free and responsible individuals cannot arise solely through clever institutional design.  Political economy rightly emphasizes that societies only flourish when they get the “rules of the game” right.  But there is so much more to that which orders our public life than statutes, court decisions, and even constitutions.  Free and self-governing societies require a certain ethos, which itself shapes and is shaped by the humane disciplines—history, literature, philosophy, music, and art.

My contributions to this blog will largely reflect my own exploration of these beautiful and mysterious disciplines.  All of this is very new to me, so I hope you will be patient with me as I learn.  I believe I have something to add to this conversation, if only as a vessel for the economic way of thinking.  While economics is often (uncharitably) characterized as the refuge of “sophists and calculators,” when practiced correctly economics helps us uncover order in the social world that would not be otherwise ascertainable.  The economic way of thinking cannot tell us everything about something.  But it can tell us something about everything, including the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

My thanks to Dr. Bradley Birzer for inviting me to join this project.  I expect many vibrant and fruitful conversations in the weeks and months to come.

“O Lord, how good it is for us to be Thy guests! How fine it is for us in Thy world. The fields are fragrant, the mountains rise high up into the sky, and the golden rays of sun and the light clouds are reflected in the water. All nature mysteriously speaks about Thee, all is filled with Thy mercy and all carries the seal of Thy love. Blessed be the earth which, with her short-lasting beauty, awakens the yearning for the eternal homeland in Thy kingdom, where in everlasting beauty resounds the song: Alleluia!”

—“Akathist of Thanksgiving,” Kontakion II