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!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How Economics forgot History

I used to devour critiques of the World Bank with great glee - but got fed up with the ease with which it seemed able to deflect the devastating exposes with slippery new phrases and concepts such as “transparency”, “social capital”….. Some 20 years ago Susan George subjected the Bank to a marvellous attack in Faith and Credit - comparing the Bank to the Catholic Church. It is an apt comparison – with priests and Cardinals having unshakeable beliefs in their own wisdom and the wider congregation suffering from the effects of their arrogance, myopia and abuse of power.  

A brief review of a couple of recent books on the subject directed me to some great downloads which should keep me occupied to Christmas – The Debt Crisis – from Europe to where? (2012); and the 400 page From Political Economy to Freakonomics (2009)
economics was once rich, diverse, multidimensional and pluralistic. The book details how political economy became economics through the separation of economics from other social sciences, especially economic history and sociology. It ranges over the shifting role of the historical and the social in economic theory, the shifting boundaries between the economic and the non-economic and puts the case for political economy back on the agenda. This is done by treating economics as a social science once again. It involves transcending the boundaries of the social sciences through the reintroduction and full incorporation of the social and the historical into the main corpus of political economy, by drawing on the rich traditions of the past
From this I was led to the work of Geoffrey Hodgson - a thoughtful political economist who has long been out of tune with his fellow economists as you can see in this table and longer interview 
Amazingly I was able, thanks to scribd, to download a couple of his complete books – eg the rather daunting How Economics Forgot History (2001) as well as one of Susan George’s more recent (and typically accessible) contributions - Another world is possible (2004)

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