An article by: Francesco Sidoti

The approach of the British weekly contains a peculiar vision of the current economy, understood as a war economy, which prescribes investment controls, export bans, and increasingly harsh sanctions. A vision far removed from the most famous English liberal culture, from Adam Smith to Richard Cobden

According to The Economist magazine, the war with Russia must continue in any case, and peace must be achieved in the Middle East in any case

There are sometimes hidden and sometimes obvious difficulties in forming public opinion. The case of The Economist is a textbook case, because it clearly had a very significant influence over a long period of time.

We are talking about the most popular Western weekly, especially among the leaders of the 1 percent of the world who are often the target of Oxfam.

Its readers are first weighed and then counted. In fact, The Economist has long boasted that few people read it and advertised itself with the slogan “The Economist – not read by millions of people.” Now, in accordance with the demand of the vulgar market, it boasts of reaching a global audience of millions.

Karl Marx already wrote that The Economist was “the European organ of the financial aristocracy,” and Lenin argued that it was the spokesman, I would say, the ventriloquist, of the long-term interests of Western billionaires. Actually, according to Lenin, in 1914 the magazine advocated peace, because it feared that the pains of war might later spark a revolution; peace was better in the long run. Lenin’s worst enemies were the Social Democrats: they did not want a revolution and argued that we know how wars begin, but we do not know how they end. History has proven that they were both right: the Great War brought communism and fascism, revolution and reaction. According to many historians, the Second World War was the continuation of the First.

There were quite a few pacifists at that time, and they knew that they represented the best of the West. The champion of British liberalism, Bertrand Russell, was convicted twice at the time for his pacifism and was finally jailed for six months in 1918.

Besides being an advocate of forward-looking pacifism, the magazine, in its original spirit, supported actual liberalism, from anti-statism to anti-protectionism, from deregulation to globalization.

In the last two issues, The Economist twice hit the mark of the world community. Seven days earlier, it published a very clear cover with a question mark and the headline “Is Putin Winning?” A week later, it published a second cover with a different headline on a parallel theme, but without the question mark: “How Peace Is Possible” (and it talks about peace exclusively for the Middle East).

Obviously, issues of war and peace are very close to it, with one fundamental remark: it believes that the war with Russia should continue in any case, and peace in the Middle East should be achieved in any case. In short, peace in the Middle East is necessary to be able to better fight the war against Russia.

This vision of economics as the continuation of war by other means contradicts the most famous English liberal culture

In this approach, there is a peculiar vision of the current economy, understood as a war economy, in terms reminiscent of the days of (regretted?) gunboats. This war justifies the denial of liberal principles; in essence, it mandates controls on foreign investment and the targeting of investments abroad, interference in private corporate agreements and private property, export bans, and ever-tighter sanctions (still strongly recommended and cited in the latest issue of American sister Atlantic). However, this vision of economics as the continuation of war by other means is in a certain sense the opposite of the views of the most famous English liberal culture, from Adam Smith to Richard Cobden.

Consequently, the approach to warmongering leads to the dominance of the military industry. This point was recently emphasized by Romano Prodi, commenting on data from SIPRI, “the Swedish institute that provides the most authoritative and reliable data on weapons.” The international situation primarily favors arms dealers, mostly located in the United States, where the defense budget has reached 40 percent of total global arms spending over the past five years (Europe spends half of what the United States does).

In this latest misplaced “pacifist” issue, The Economist also addresses its neighbor on the other side of the political barricade – the Observer, which is the weekly Bible of the English Conservatives and the nursery of that ruling class. This is no trifling squabble: in an interview by former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove with the Sunday Telegraph newspaper on December 10, 2023, influential English intelligence groups openly and once again emphasized that journalistic information is a major theme of British national policy. For its part, The Economist ridicules the amateurism and adventurism of the Observer, which is said to be a weekly magazine that is both “thoughtful and rowdy.”

Looking at its competitors with disdain and sarcasm, The Economist unconsciously reflects on itself in the mirror, because amateurism and adventurism are characteristic of those who happily reject the liberal culture, of which they call themselves the heir, interpreter, and disseminator. The glorification of war and the war economy is the exact opposite of the liberal and libertarian tradition in all its variants. It may be The Economist, but it leaves much to be desired, especially as an economist.


Francesco Sidoti