“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.