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Citations Needed

Jan 22, 2020

From its inception as agriculture trade paper in 1843 to the present day, The Economist has provided a gateway into the mind of the banking class. Something of an anomaly in the publishing industry, The Economist is not quite a magazine, not quite a newspaper; aspirational in its branding but bleakly limited in political ambitions; brazenly transparent in its capitalist ideology, yet inscrutable in its favorably spinning for American and British imperialism and racism.

It is publication owned by the wealthy for the wealthy and advertises itself as such. Its only moral pretense: a long history of championing what it calls “liberalism, ”a notoriously slippery term that, in The Economist’s world, views freedom to profit and exploit labor as interchangeable with the freedom of religion, press and speech.

As such, examining The Economist’s history, its connection to British and American banking interests and intelligence services, can tell us a great deal about the narrow focus of Western, and specifically British notions of “liberalism.” The promotion of capital flows over justice, enlightened imperialism over self-determination, abhors overt racism while promoting more subtle forms of race science and colonialism, all along easing the conscience of wealthy white readers that want to feign concern about human suffering but who have everything to gain by doing absolutely nothing about it.

On this episode, we are joined by Alexander Zevin, author of Liberalism at Large: The World According to The Economist.