Comments on RWER issue no 85

  1. Rhonda Kovac
    September 21, 2018 at 1:23 am

    Comment on “How to transform economics and systems of power? Critical lessons from the neoliberal / neoconservative take-over” by Deniz Kellecioglu

    Superb article, deftly combining scholarship and analytical thinking with practicality on supremely important matters.

    I do, however, have some questions about Kuhn’s model as applied to unseating present economic theory.

    Current neoclassical economic theories seem to be not fundamentally about reason or science. They appear rather to be part of the same calculated, corrupt conspiracy by the wealthy to secure their interests that has commandeered the political system and victimized the majority of people — its academic ‘arm’. ‘Mistaken paradigms’ are not what primarily account for the persistence and entrenchment of those theories. Corporate money is.

    Too, the possibility of a Kuhnian ‘paradigmatic crisis’ in current mainstream economic theory is locked out by self-reinforcing circularities in that theory, making it immune from disproof. Every event, good or bad, is an ‘adjustment’, a ‘balance’, an ‘equilibration’. No crash or depression, no matter how devastating, goes outside the theory, can ever prove it wrong.

    Therefore, I would argue that Kuhn’s model of scientific revolutions doesn’t really apply here, and, accordingly, following its game-plan is unlikely to have much of an effect. The defects of those kinds of rigged theories must be confronted in another way, more along the lines of the confrontation of political corruption.

    I also would like to offer an addition to the article’s recommendations.

    Though the events, ideas, beliefs, motivations, power struggles, political maneuvering, historical forces, and so on, which Kellecioglu so painstakingly lays out are indeed real, nonetheless we do not necessarily have to wrestle with those head-on in order to take them down.

    For example, simply implementing elements of a progressive agenda — living wage, free healthcare, full retirement, etc. — can go a long way toward pulling the rug out from under corruption and neoconservativism directly, by bettering people’s lives, without having to utter a single scholarly argument, or take on a corrupt force directly. Of course, corrupt forces can sabotage the implementation. Nonetheless, such an agenda can be advanced on its own terms without getting tangled up in corrupt process, as a kind of ‘end-run’ around the most burdensome elements of that process.

  2. John deChadenedes
    September 21, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Comment on “Economics and normativity…” Ms. Morgan is right that “economics is too important to be left in its current state”. A more accurate statement, I think, would be that the economy and its effects on people’s lives are too important to be left to economists and the government people they mislead. I came to economics in graduate school from philosophy and many years in construction work and other manual trades. I saw almost immediately that economics as currently taught and practiced is based on false assumptions and uses bad reasoning to build on them. (Friedman’s well-known “Methodology…” essay is a hilarious example of a bright guy trying to justify this approach, ironically using false assumptions and bad logic to do so.) Not only should we not leave economics in its current state, we actually need an entirely new way of thinking about the economy and economics. This would be grounded in true propositions (“There is enough to go around.” “Every person is born with an inalienable right to a life-sustaining share of the world’s resources.” “Everything we need and want derives from the five elements of energy, natural resources, time, knowledge, and ingenuity.” “Equality of wealth and income are positive goods.” And so on.) It would use transparent and so sound logic to build on these propositions, leading to good public policy decision making. I have started working on this new approach and would be interested in talking to others who also want to work on it. Heck, I’d like to be in touch even with people who just want to argue with me about this! I have a gmail address at “deshoebox” if you find this idea compelling, as I do. We don’t need more and better econometrics. We need to see clearly what the economy really is, what it’s purpose is, and why it so often falls short of fulfilling that purpose.

  3. H.M.Kolsen, Eneritus Professor, University of Queensland.
    September 30, 2018 at 3:33 am

    To Dr. J. Euzaglo. A very perceptive and well researched article, with an unusually insightful interpretation of microeconomics. It is referred to as “atomistically methological individualism…”. Further development could include references to attempts to remedy some of the problems of microeconomics without totally abandoning the basic framework. Welfare Economics (Ian Little), Second-Best adaptations. And a look at the macroeconomic methodology, or lack of it, would be interesting. But your article will be sent on to interested economists who, like me, do not usually take a sufficiently wide view on the discipline. Many thanks.

    • Jorge Buzaglo
      October 8, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you!

  4. Jorge Buzaglo
    September 30, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Comment on Jorge Buzaglo’s “From Pareto economics, to Pareto politics, to fascism.”
    The message of the paper was the appeal: “Nonelites of all countries, unite!” (p.120).

    I would like here to add a comment on two very recent hopeful signs. A week or so ago what I see as two important appeals in the direction of international solidarity and organization appeared in The Guardian newspaper. One was by Bernie Sanders, and the other was by Yanis Varoufakis. Both call for the formation of a wide international movement against the unbridled rule of global capital and the concomitant growth of fascist reaction everywhere.

    According to Bernie Sanders:
    “We need an international progressive movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power… Our job is to reach out to those in every corner of the world who share these values, and who are fighting for a better world.” The title of the article was: A new authoritarian axis demands an international progressive front. (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ng-interactive/2018/sep/13/bernie-sanders-international-progressive-front)

    For Yanis Varoufakis, we must begin today: “More will follow us the moment when hatred and anger yield to rational hope.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ng-interactive/2018/sep/13/our-new-international-movement-will-fight-rising-fascism-and-globalists)

    I would like here to suggest that we listen to these important appeals. I propose that the WEA welcomes this important initiative, and adheres to this emerging crucial movement.

    I also suggest our colleagues and friends to join and help to form local chapters of this important global progressive movement.

  5. Edward K ross
    November 28, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    Ted in reply to Asad Zaman Radical paradigm shifts.

    I think the late Bill Geddes an anthropologist who had a great interest and concern for the inequality between the rich and the poor would have agreed with your article.

    Again I am not an academic or economist, as a result my comments are not based on theories and assumptions that bear no relation to reality evident in the real world. Although I generally agree with Asad Zaman because he appears to view the world through the same sort of glasses to me.
    Apart from that ,the glasses that I use when I use Descartes ‘I Think therefore I am’ if taken literally in isolation ,leads me to believe from experience and observation that rather than arguing that Descartes whole argument is flawed.
    I think we all need to not only learn how to think, but also practice it in our everyday life and as Asad writes begin to form a new paradigm.
    I further absolutely support his suggestion to extend the conversation for a new paradigm to the general public and students to begin the change from the grassroots up.

    ‘From a small acorn a mighty oak tree grew’

    From the other posts on this subject I find the whole conversation very interesting including Ronda Kocac, Dave Tylors reference toTony Lawson’s critical realism and his call for a new ontology. Also while I certainly respect Yoshinori Shizawa I think he tends to dismiss Lawsons call for a new ontology too quickly. Because in my humble opinion one of the reasons people loose interest and turn away from economic conversations, is from their point of view traditional concepts of economic ontology bear little or no relationship to their lived experience in the real world.

    Ted my apologies if I have already made a similar post but I was having trouble with the computer.

  6. Edward K ross
    November 28, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    I also apologise for not mentioning the other excellent contribution of the other participants in the conversations, thank you all.Ted

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