what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hugh Stretton - polymath and social democrat - RIP

Most “social scientists” are actually narrow technical specialists – in such subjects as economics or political science – loathe to threaten their career path by taking on big issues or using clear language…
Hugh Stretton, who died earlier this month at the age of 91, was a polymath whose work should be a powerful reproof to the rubbish most social scientists inflict on us. His work ranged from The Political Sciences (1969); Capitalism, Socialism and the Environment (1976); to a 900 page anti-Samuelson textbook Economics; a new introduction (1999)
Forty years on, I still feel the tingle brought on by the clarity of his writing in the second of these books - and regret that I failed to notice his 1999 blockbuster which looks to deserve inclusion in any short list of key books about Economics.

There is a nice vignette of his work in this paper which stresses the social democratic essence of the man and should shame those of us who come from that tradition to do more to reassert it….(Craig Murray has a recent post about the present UK Labour leadership contest in that vein)

Sadly, Stretton’s work does not seem to have impacted beyond Australia although Steve Keen (of Debunking Economics fame) carries on the tradition.
JK Galbraith is one of a handful of social scientists who has been able to surmount the ostracism and ridicule generally heaped on those who challenge what he called “the conventional wisdom” with superb clarity of writing……

While googling for more material on Stretton, I came across this fascinating 734 page Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists which, curiously, fails to include him…….not specialist enough??????
For those wanting more on Debunking Economics – there are a couple of freebies here and here

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