A Charming Parenthetical

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Academic writing gets a bad rap, but occasionally there are moments of real charm, such as this droll parenthetical I came across while working on my recent piece about how economists throughout history have understood technological unemployment:

Karl Marx, from a rather different perspective [than John Stuart Mill], also argued that technological unemployment was a serious problem in the short run, in the broader context of the immiseration of workers under a capitalist system. But for Marx as well, technological improvement was part of a social and political process that would lead eventually to widespread prosperity. (Of course, the Marxist vision of progress also eventually required a wholesale overthrow of the existing capitalist economic system.)

Of course.

(Source: “The History of Technological Anxiety and the Future of Economic Growth: Is This Time Different?” by Joel Mokyr, Chris Vickers, and Nicolas L. Ziebarth in Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 29, No. 3.)