Home > Uncategorized > Economics is an ideology

Economics is an ideology

from Ikonoclast

Economics is not a science and it cannot be a science. It is an ideology. The policy applications of an ideology may be “science-informed”, or not, as the cases might be, but the discipline itself, economics of any ideological persuasion, is not a science.

Economics properly considered is really political economy. The term “political economy” carries two connotations: one meaning “national economy” and the other literally meaning economics is always political. The attempt to hive off economics from political economy and pretend that economics is not political but somehow an objective discipline has been a grotesque failure academically, socially and we see now environmentally. In turn, a political economy theory, an ideology if you will, always returns and must return to moral philosophy to argue its legitimacy, be those arguments good or bad according to the tenets adopted for judgement.

In moral philosophy it is not possible to elaborate out the full shape of good and how to get there, at least not without being religiously or metaphysically dogmatic. It is possible, usually, to define egregious ills and how to most likely avoid them. Even less so in political economy than in science (see Popper on falsification) is it the case that we can we develop a perfect, eternal and irrefutable theory. Yet current orthodox (neoclassical) economic theory pretends to be exactly that. We can however, refute political economy theories (e.g. ones which posit endless growth) which are in clearly conflict with the observable and highly dependable laws of hard science.

In theory, we can throw out theories which will lead to near-term disaster. Neoclassical economics and conventional economics in general is clearly one of those theory sets. However, given the power formations of the current political economy ideology, internal criticism has not proven effective to date and even democratic opinion and voting have also been rendered relatively inoperative due to oligarchic and corporate power. We are at a very late stage, very close to runaway climate and ecological disasters. At this late stage, forerunner disasters will have to occur (unfortunately), as incontrovertible empirical evidence events directly impacting on and galvanizing the vast majority of the people to demand real change.  https://rwer.wordpress.com/2019/06/20/a-fine-line-descriptive-or-normative-science/

  1. Dave Raithel
    June 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    “In moral philosophy it is not possible to elaborate out the full shape of good and how to get there, at least not without being religiously or metaphysically dogmatic.” I do not think that is an empirical claim, though the judgment might be grounded in part on experience so far. But if it is not an empirical claim, then it is what? I do not disagree that what most people call “economics” is a political ideology; but the critique of an ideology – to throw out theories which will lead to near-term disaster – does suppose a theory of good, or value, or notions of what is bad for people, etc., as the basis of the critique. Else, who says involuntary unemployment is really a BAD thing? There’s no refuting recalcitrant individuals – they are, at best, made politically feckless.

  2. Frank Salter
    June 24, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    There is no quantitative conventional economic theory. All of conventional analysis fails the tests of the quantity calculus and comparison of hypotheses with empirical evidence fails the tests of empirical validity.

  3. June 24, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    Neoclassical economics is the problem…

  4. June 24, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    I certainly agree that economics (or any other social science) is not, and cannot be strictly value neutral, I don’t think that necessarily implies that economics and other social sciences cannot at least in principle be carried out in a scientific fashion. I noted the passing reference to Popper, and I certainly hope that we are well past using Popper as a standard for demarcation.

  5. Yoshinori Shiozawa
    June 24, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Ikonoclast is right in almost all claims he proposes but he is wrong in one thing. He claims that economics cannot be a science. For ever? or before human being be all dead? At any rate, this cannot be proved.

    Let us learn from history.

    Imagine we are in mid 16th century, that is before Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler were born. Ikonoclast can claim with good reasons that physics cannot be a science (in the meaning that it is understood now). His claim can be justified by the long history which counts almost 2 thousand years. But, half century later, modern physics was born with Galieo’s law of falling bodies and Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion.

    It is unfortunate that economics came after Newton. Economists (first, classical political economists and then neoclassical economists) imagined that they can construct a science as systematic and logical economics as Newtonian physics but they continued to fail in their attempts. But, in fifties years later, we may have a burgeon of scientific economics. It must be very different from any economics, mainstream or heterodox.

    My advice and caution to myself is this:
    Do not pursuit economics that can explain everything. (Even physics does not arrive at this stage)
    Be satisfied by finding a small but firm law or mechanism. “Newton” will not be born before “Galilei” and “Kepler”.

  6. Helge Nome
    June 24, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    What we call “economics” is most certainly an ideology which serves the status quo. “Economists” are trained to be released into the body politic to reinforce the brainwashing exercise on the population at large. This kind of thing has been perpetrated since the beginning of time by the established political power structure.

    Hail Caesar!!

  7. Mike Ryan
    June 24, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    agreed 100%. Need proof – read my book. (The truth about economics, Critical thinking guide for students, parents, teachers and Citizens)

    This ideology was born during the red scare in an attempt to keep Americans from really understanding how the economy works.

    There are 25 right to work states. 19 of the REQUIRE students to take a class on this BS ideology.

    We should suit all the Universities that still teach this nonnsense.

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