[Marxism] Fwd: Economists versus the Economy by Robert Skidelsky - Project Syndicate

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Dec 27 09:30:30 MST 2016

Skidelsky: "/Unfortunately, the frictions that disrupt the machine’s 
smooth operation are human beings. One can understand why economists 
trained in this way were seduced by financial models that implied that 
banks had virtually eliminated risk/."

Hmmm, so he /has /engaged Keynes' theories of disequilibrium but hasn't 
considered Marx's?

On 2016/12/27 08:52 AM, Jim Farmelant via Marxism wrote:
> ...The first person to hold an academic chair in economics was Alfred Marshall. Marshall studied mathematics as an undergraduate. He then pursued studies in philosophy which led to his becoming interested in economics.

But isn't context everything?

Wasn't Marshall's contribution mainly in marginalist theory, especially 
in the micro-economics of corporate behavior, in which marginal revenue 
and marginal cost curves were increasingly important to understanding 
the logic of a relatively new form of economic activity: the 
corporation? If you invest your money in a corporation, you want to know 
its inner workings (a reliable indicator of its source and direction of 
profitability), and then logically you want an economic theory that can 
put this information into a scientific-sounding form.

If so, isn't the degradation of what we call neo-classical economics - 
i.e. its origins in serving the rise of a speicifically corporate power 
that sought a pseudo-scientific basis for its existence - parallel to 
the degradation of so many other social sciences that began in the 19th 
century to serve power?

German sociology to serve Bismarck's modernising, urbanising society 
(Weber and Toennies)? British geography to serve the empire's 
geopolitical expansion and later its containment of Bolshevism 
(Mackinder)? Anthropology with its focus on racist craniometry to serve 
European imperialism (Morton, Vacher de Lapouge)? Political science with 
its commitment to social Darwinian and legitimating growing state power 
(Adams, Wilson, Beard)?

And if so, don't we need to restructure intellectual disciplinary 
arrangements to recognise that so many of those core knowledge systems 
dating to the late 19th century are hard-wired with ongoing service to 
mainly wicked forms of power, forms that still maintain many residual 
features of their origins? (Just watch the way 'economic geographers' 
engage in spatial fetishism, for instance, or how sociologists adhere to 
dualistic epistemologies so as to avoid engaging life's dialectics.)

The 20th century gave us add-ons, such as Development Studies, Planning, 
area studies, gender and race studies, and various others with a largely 
/inter/disciplinary orientation.

For effective 21st century intellectual work, isn't it time for 
/anti-/disciplinary approaches? I like the way the New School is 
structuring "Capitalism Studies" (not just as historical US business 
studies as happens elsewhere), but with people like Nancy Fraser, a much 
more integrated approach to the topic that avoids the old disciplinary 
territorial boundaries like the plague... Is that the way forward, to 
deal with the /cul de sac /- or in many cases cliff-face - that so many 
Marxist economists encountered in trying to reform the discipline from 

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