It is written. It was written, as though prescripted. The French economist Thomas Piketty pens a revolutionary work (Capital in the Twenty-First Century) in which the grotesqueries of income inequality are interpreted as capitalism's norm, not its aberration; conservatives then react with emotional admixtures ranging from "panic," as Paul Krugman summarizes it, to ubersophisticated nonchalance and dismissiveness, as David Brooks, rather comically, tries his best to feign.
Krugman observes that "the Piketty panic shows that the right has run out of ideas." That's a charitable critique, in that it wafts in the present tense. Hell, conservatives are still stinging over the early 20th-century rise of macroeconomics itself. As John Maynard Keynes was devising his theories of aggregate economic activity, his Hayekian opponents scoffed, ridiculed and decried the absurdity of analyzing economic activity in universal terms. In other words, even the infant development of macroeconomics--a field of study taken mostly for granted today--was dismissed by conservative neoclassical sorts as a fool's errand. National economies are far too complex for competent analysis, they argued, and besides, economic workings are essentially invisible.
That was nearly a century ago. Here's Brooks, today: "Human beings are generally treated [by Piketty] in aggregate terms, without much discussion of individual choice." To many, Brooks' criticism might be overlooked as a kind of throwaway line of relative insignificance. But it's hugely significant, in that Brooks is fundamentally rejecting the validity of aggregate, which is to say macroeconomic, analyses. Yes, Piketty treats human beings in aggregate terms, because Piketty is a macroeconomist. Yet Brooks can't get over that; he can't accept even the very foundation of macroeconomics--i.e., its macro-ness.
This, further, presents immense uncommon-ground and epistemological problems. How does one reason, or traffic in common concerns, with opponents stuck in an antique ideology whose most basic premise was discredited ages ago? How are rational debates about pump-priming, or the minimum wage, or extended unemployment benefits, or equal pay for women, or the indispensable economic value of transfer payments, even possible when one's opponents are still living in a Hayekian haze? How can one advance any economic debate when one's opponents ran out of ideas decades ago, and haven't open-mindedly cracked a textbook since?