The 2008 financial crises was supposed to be the moment that discredited market economics. Instead it has only reinforced its dominance. Those already inclined to view the market with suspicion were confirmed in their dislike. But despite their predictions, there has been no worldwide movement away from the market model, if only because no credible alternative has been presented.
If the consensus remains intact, it is not only for the left having belatedly embraced the market, but because of the right’s embrace, decades before, of the welfare state. Campaign rhetoric to the contrary, politics nowadays is largely about fine-tuning of that consensus. While there is still room to clarify the respective roles of market and state, the days are over in which opposing political forces grouped around each and engaged in broad ideological fights over the economy. If globalization had not already seen to that, the constraints imposed by an aging population will.
The suggestion disappoints or even enrages some people. But politics was not always about economics, and there is no reason why it must be so now. Absent a new crises, our politics is likely to carry on its present inconsequential vein. But eventually some other great division will emerge to stir the blood. What a post-economics politics will be about is impossible, though entertaining, to guess.
Andrew Coyne is an award-winning writer and columnist for the National Post.