The cut direct

Rusty Russell is not happy about John Quiggin’s embrace of Creative Commons’ Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.1 Australia License as a kind of a good default for allowing other people use of your creative work.

Russell slams Quiggin:

That Quiggin takes this path despite training as an ecomonist [sic, original author’s emphasis] demonstrates either a lack of deep thought on this issue, or that he uses economics to justify his leftist dogma, rather than to examine issues. (This paragraph was about as polite as I could make it).

I can’t say that I’m too much of a fan of the phrase “leftist dogma.” It’s about as meaningful to me as saying “fropbutz dogma” — ie I tend to prefer attacks on political positions on a particular issue rather than attacks on them because of other political positions that they’ve been known to be associated with. (What are the pragmatics of the word ‘leftist’? I read it as having exclusively hostile connotations, that is, that a position or group of positions is only described as ‘leftist’ — as opposed to ‘left’, ‘socialist’, ‘communist’ — by people who oppose it.) To be fair, this is what the rest of Russell’s piece does, I’m just having a go at the ‘leftist’ ending.

But that wasn’t what struck me enough to write an entry about it. I was struck more by the emphasised part: “despite training as an economist”. This strikes me as a cutting line indeed. Quiggin’s relationship to economics isn’t that he trained in it: it’s that he is an economist. Russell is implying that his economic positions would be foolish from someone with an undergraduate major. It would be like saying that Russell is a remarkably bad coder for someone who’s met a few kernel developers.