This paper argues that the international financial crisis is just the last in a series of economic calamities produced by a type of theory that converted the economics profession from a study of real world phenomena into what in the end became mathematized ideology. While the crises themselves started by halving real wages in many countries in the economic periphery, in Latin America in the late 1970s, their origins are found in economic theory in the 1950s when empirical reality became academically unfashionable. About half way in the destructive path of this theoretical tsunami – from its origins in the world periphery in the 1970s until today’s financial meltdowns – we find the destruction of the productive capacity of the Second World, the former Soviet Union. Now the chickens are coming home to roost: wealth and welfare destruction is increasingly hitting the First World itself: Europe and the United States. This paper argues that it is necessary to see these developments as one continuous process over more than three decades of applying neoclassical economics and neo-liberal economic policies that destroyed, rather than created, real wages and wealth. A reconstruction of widespread welfare will need to be based on the understanding that what unleashed the juggernaut of welfare destruction was not ‘market failure’; it was ‘theory failure’. Being a résumé of a larger research project, the paper includes references to more detailed studies of these processes of ‘destructive destruction’.
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