In Doctrines, Myth Industry, Pluralism, Suppression

GERG’s panel on the state of economics took place against the background of a doubling-down in neoclassical economics and the further suppression of heterodox economics. In Notre Dame this led first to the separation, isolation and then closure of a separate ‘heterodox economics’ department. A similar process threatened to unfold in the University of Manitoba.

These attacks on the very theorists who had predicted the catastrophe of 2008 is at first sight counter-intuitive, since if economics were a science, these same people and their theories would have been promoted and studied, as would the reasons for the failure of orthodox theory. It can be understood only by recognising that economics is not in fact a science, but a religious institution.

My paper on ‘the trouble with economics’ cites, in some detail, the reaction of a swathe of critical student movements such as the post-Crash Student Society, Rethinking Economics, and so on. It then goes on to try and account both for the failure of orthodox economics, and its failure to recognise its failure. The post contains the slides for this presentation and an incomplete text.

It is worth here citing the panel’s description (which can also be found in the [conference programme]:

“The criticism of neoclassical economics is almost as old as the discipline itself and the widespread questioning of its value after the 2008 financial crisis, complete with proposals for curriculum reform, was only the latest chapter of this long tradition. This panel places the current state of the post-crash discipline in this longer historical context going back to the powerful critiques of Keynes, Kalecki and Polanyi, tracing the dialectic between powerful intellectual critique confronted by the institutional power of ‘paradigm maintenance’. The panel assesses the post- crash state of the struggle between neoclassical economics and its critics while placing key flashpoints in this struggle, whether what occurred a few years ago at the University of Notre Dame and what is occurring at the University of Manitoba today. “

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