If your mind isn’t fitted to the world, you’re in want of a better understanding. If the world isn’t fitted to your mind, you’ll be wanting to do something about it. The concept of direction of fit could have been put to good use here:
Suppose an alternative history in which big-box stores, Wal-Mart and others, were unionized,â€ [Krugman] says. â€œYou could easily imagine that you could have a large number of service-sector workers who were, if not like autoworkers, like manufacturing-sector union workers in the golden age of private-sector unions.â€ He thinks for another minute. It might not have been Utopia, he says, but it could have been France. But now these possibilities seem further away than ever. Part of the basic loneliness of economic study is that you are always looking back, at data sets that are already completed. And so you realize your vision of a perfect society just as it disappears from view.
I suspect Paul Krugman understands well the difference between “realize” in the sense of grasping things, and “realize” in the sense of bringing things about. (From an otherwise very readable piece by Benjamin Wallace-Wells.)