Economics becomes more precise and rigorous — and totally useless

Nowadays there is almost no place whatsoever in economics education for courses in the history of economic thought and economic methodology. The standard view among mainstream economists is that students shouldn’t think about what they are doing, but just do it. This is deeply worrying.

A science that doesn’t self-reflect and asks important methodological and science-theoretical questions about the own activity, is a science in dire straits. The main reason why mainstream economics has increasingly become more and more useless as a public policy instrument is to be found in its perverted view on the value of methodology. How did we end up in this sad state?

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Read also: The Methodology of Polanyi’s Great Transformation

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Posted in Economics | Tagged

Toward sustainable development: from neoclassical monopoly to democracy-oriented economics

Will mainstream neoclassical economics be helpful and enough in dealing with present unsustainable development? Or, should we try alternative schools of thought in the sense of conceptual framework and language? In this essay, the latter option is chosen. It is argued that new views of individuals, organizations, markets, etc. are needed. A new definition of economics is even suggested where the multidimensional nature of sustainability issues is emphasized together with a democracy-oriented view of the discipline. Assessment of investment alternatives in a democratic society is outlined as well as elements of a politics for sustainable development. Considering the seriousness of the problems faced, there is no good excuse for avoiding the more fundamental issues of paradigm and ideology with its influence on the functioning of our political-economic system.

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Posted in neoclassical economics, Political economy, sustainable development | Tagged , ,

Social Inequality, Economic Decline, and Plutocracy

This book aims to further an understanding of present-day America by exploring counter-hegemony to the rule of capital and offering guidelines for strategizing change proceeding from the dialectic of What Is and What Ought to Be. The author analyzes neoliberal global order and its political expressions through discussions of the dominance of finance capital in the late twentieth century, the triumph of ideology, the closing off avenues to reform, the problem of the captive state, and a sociological analysis of rule by “divide and conquer.” The book concludes with a look at the history of movement politics in culture, arts, economics, and politics. It resounds with a hope that challenges to hegemony can use many paths to change, of which the electoral path is but one of many fronts, in the long-term struggle for radical reform.

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Posted in American capitalism, Social Inequality | Tagged ,

The Globalization of Capital and Its Ideologically Framed Policies

Emerging victorious from the war in 1945, the Americans went to cold war against the Soviets and hot wars against revolutionary forces in Korea and, later, Vietnam. By the 1960s in Latin America, efforts from mercenary invasion to terrorism and embargo crippled but failed to destroy the Cuban revolution; however, they were successful in efforts to instill reactionary military regimes in South America and turn back insurgent forces in Central America.

Lest we forget, the new world order sought by America Inc. was enforced by the dictatorship. In Latin America during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, neo-liberal policies of the new scheme of globalization were ruthlessly implemented by military regimes, as in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Uruguay, and by right-wing Central American governments, supported by the United States, employing death squads and military massacres in counter-insurgency operations. The rule of capital by the 1980s became consolidated through the imposition of policies, identified as “neo-liberalism”, and a strategy for expansion and consolidation: “globalization.”

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Posted in Capitalism, Globalization, Neoliberalism | Tagged , ,

Toward a cognitive science of markets: economic agents as sense-makers

Behavioral economics characterizes decision-makers using psychologically-informed models. Cognitive science produces psychologically-informed models. Why don’t these disciplines talk more? Here, the author presents several arguments for why cognitive science should inform behavioral economics—it characterizes internal psychological states, builds a richer conception of human nature, pays equal attention to cognition’s successes and failures, embraces multidisciplinary insights, and avoids blind spots produced by behavioral economics’ intellectual lineage. The author illustrates these principles using the cognitive science of sense-making—how humans understand information—including mental tools such as heuristics, stories, and theories. The science of mind can produce new insights to enrich economics

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Posted in Cognition, Economics | Tagged ,

Oligarchy Is Destroying Our Society and the Planet

Is capitalism on the brink of joining the dustbin of history? And what would a post-capitalist society and a sustainable economy look like?

Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the world has experienced historically unprecedented levels of growth, with capitalism raising the standard of living of many nations. At the same time, capitalism has generated immense contradictions (exploitation of labor and nature, huge economic inequalities and gross social injustices), and these traditions have been the main foci of radical political movements advancing the vision of just socio-economic order. But is the era of capitalist growth now coming to an end?

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Posted in Capitalism, Oligarchy | Tagged ,

A dialectical reflection on the emergence of the ‘citizen as consumer’ as neoliberal citizenship

In this article, we argue that citizenship conceived within a context of neoliberal rationality helps explain the emergence of what we term the ‘citizen as consumer’. We define the citizen as consumer as someone who relates to the state and the public realms from the private perspective of consumption. We ask how this emergent neoliberal citizen is configured in peripheral countries that are regarded as exemplifying ‘weak’ citizenship. To respond to this question, we consider the protests that occurred in Brazil in 2013 as an empirical illustration. Our main objective is to rethink the citizen/state relationship in consumer studies, employing a dialectical analysis to understand how the better-known consumer-citizen movement, in which the consumer acts as a citizen and gives birth, under a neoliberal rationality, to a movement that somehow disrupts these roles such that the citizen starts to act as a consumer. The Brazilian protests provide insights that advance debate on the scope and limits of the hybridization between citizens and consumers and on the transformations in the relationship between citizenship and politics.

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Posted in Citi<en, Consumer | Tagged ,

When – and why – did people first start using money?

Sometimes you run across a grimy, tattered dollar bill that seems like it’s been around since the beginning of time. Assuredly it hasn’t, but the history of human beings using cash currency does go back a long time – 40,000 years.

Scientists have tracked exchange and trade through the archaeological record, starting in Upper Paleolithic when groups of hunters traded for the best flint weapons and other tools. First, people bartered, making direct deals between two parties of desirable objects.

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Posted in Money | Tagged

Radicalizing the Root: The Return of Philosophical Anthropology to the Critique of Political Economy

This paper examines the return to philosophical anthropology to the critique of political economy in the work of Etienne Balibar, Pierre Macherey, and Paolo Virno. I argue that this return is no longer a question of the alienation or realization of a human essence, but the way in which the very idea of the human is itself produced in and through the exploitation of labor power. The quotidian act of selling one’s labor power, of selling a capacity to work, makes it possible to reexamine the anthropological concept of humanity as potential, as the capacity to learn new habits. Finally, I argue that it is through this generic figure of the human, and its exclusions that we must think the ground for political struggle.

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Posted in Philosophical anthropology, Political economy | Tagged ,

Inequality – An Entangled Political Economy Perspective

In recent years the degree of income and wealth inequality within developed countries has been raised as a central issue in economic and social policy debates. Numerous figures across diverse ideological affinities have advocated policy measures to significantly alter income and wealth distributions, while the inequality debate has become infused with other subjects such as social justice and identity politics. This book presents an account of economic inequality from a contemporary classical liberal perspective. Inequality is seen as a by-product of entangled relationships within society, bringing to the fore key ideas from complexity, evolutionary and network sciences.

Novak illustrates that inequality is problematic insofar as it generates pro-rich redistribution and constrains progress by the less well off. Economic inequality has important links with issues such as fiscal and regulatory policies, discrimination and social exclusion, and institutional design. This unique book is important reading for social science academics, policy makers and people interested in exploring the dimensions and solutions to inequality, a critical issue of our time.

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Posted in Inequality | Tagged