1830. Issues and thinkers ignored in most economics.

provocation # 78

From Adam Smith till now the trend in economics has been to strip out the human side, the side that made social claims on the economy for the good of all. Economics instead took the path of providing the guiding ideas (ideology) and managing the economy for the “players”, those who chose to make hay out of the economy.

This can be seen by looking at the thinkers who were ignored because more on the human side in contrast to those thinkers embraced because of their focus on legitimizing and managing the economy.

Here just as a rough comparison that the two worlds move in parallel without much interaction. The history of economics is usually written, chapter by chapter like old testament : A begat B begat C until now when the best has survived..

(The lists are Rough but you get the point that they hardly overlap.)

In Economics, the history goes something like

Ricardo
Smith
Mill
Marx
Keynes
Friedman
Hayek
In Philosophy, the ones mostly ignored in economic histories:

Spinoza
Kant
Hume
Locke
Nietzsche
Baudrillard
Habermas
Foucault

There is a new wave of cross disciplinary thinkers now such as
Harcourt, Bernard, The Myth of the Market

And in the past, but pretty much ignored
Veblen
Weber
Schumpater
Sahlins

The strange career of Hirschman who saw a lot but was very cautious is worth studying.

Issues mostly ignored or dealt with lightly by Economic History include

Monarchy
Representation
Nation state
Nature of person based in community
Sentiment
Family
Sovereignty
Cosmopolitanism
Modernity
Post human…
Slavery
Class
Wealth
Legitimacy

The fact is, we live in the aftermath of the unresolved issues from the French Revolution : who governs, how, and to what purpose? Leaving these issues unexplored (they probably cannot be resolved) is keeping us on a path that leads to a bad end in too extreme inequality and climate damage.

————

Another note on Trump.

The tendency ifs for the information professionals to blame Trump and his support from the undereducated for the rise of Trump to the presidency. This ignores the long process, all of which we were by moments aware of, of the deterioration of the country in so many dimensions. not the least of which was “what is it like where the poor live?” Your car is impounded and there is no public transportation.

After WW2. the US was in a privileged position. Anything we made or bought could be sold at a profit. We got lazy and treated management (GI Bill) as more important than engineering. This worked until slow down in the 60’s and the emergence of a politics to keep the incomes of the richer rising while milking those lower down to keep up the illusion of doing well. Along thee way the professional class has sided with the rich against the rest of society and this has led to an etiolated society. Our infrastructure, our quality of life and our morale are thread-bare for most of the population. It is in fact we who are to blame. We have been the benefactors of a system of devastation for many.

Only doing the hard work of understanding the philosophy and humanity left out of official economics (grad school and journals) can give economics a real possibility to participate in the great questions emerging: after the crises: what now?

 

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