2 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. Thinking and writing alone, I have produced an enormous amount of nonsense. Thankfully, I have found a Keynes quote which cheers me up a little.

    “It is astonishing what foolish things one can temporarily believe if one thinks too long alone, particularly in economics (along with the other moral sciences), where it is often impossible to bring one’s ideas to a conclusive test either formal or experimental. – J.M. Keynes.

  2. It’s worth reading this;


    Also it is worth reading “The normative foundations of scarcity” and “The Methodology of Polanyi’s Great Transformation”.

    All papers are by Asad Zaman.

    I don’t agree with all of Zaman’s views but I find myself in agreement with some of his basic theses.For example, the abstract of the scarcity essay reads:

    “The elevation of scarcity to the fundamental economic problem rests on some unstated normative assumptions. These include a political commitment to private property, a methodological commitment to not inquire about taste formation, and the idea that human welfare is roughly equivalent to preference satisfaction. The problem arises because current methodology is based on certain positivist principles, and needs revision in light of (the) subsequent collapse of (logical) positivism.

    Philosophically, Zaman also contrasts (in this and the other papers) “axiomatic or hypothetico-deductive methodology” with science and “inductive methodology”. In summary, he seems to be saying that modern economics makes a set of ontological, epistemological and methodological mistakes. I suppose I would paraphrase the gist of this by saying much of modern economics claims to be a positive discipline when in fact it is largely a normative discipline which denies its normative basis. Zamen also talks about the analytic / synthetic divide and the falsity of positing a definite and complete divide between these two methods. This part of the debate is still a little beyond my thinking and (self)-education. I don’t feel comfortable forming a view on that general issue. I don’t even think I fully understand the issues of contention in that part of the arena.

    Zaman mentions how Polyani identified that widespread false theories can influence and even direct history. In my view, conventional economics, or at least neoclassical economics, or at least their bowdlerized and popularized versions, constitute such a false theory. We are so completely in the grip of this false theory – the masses mostly believing it, the elites cynically implementing it for elite self interest – that we cannot change course. As the well-known phrase would have it, “the day that prophecy fails” must arrive before this mass delusion is shattered.

    In other words, a substantial, irrefutable and ongoing collapse of our supporting environment and of our global economy will have to begin to occur before modern economic “wisdom” is questioned by the consumer masses. This is very unfortunate but a number of trends (too lengthy to mention here) mean that most worker-consumers simply cannot think for themselves, at least not in the areas that matter for this dilemma. “The lie that is the news, is everyone’s generic views.” (This is Capitalism – by Snog.) The lies and ubiquity of advertising are equally potent in this regard.

    I wish it were not so, but it seems politics will only change when the collapse crisis begins. There is no guarantee then that politics will change for the better. They could change for the worse as they have in America which is already in a slow-motion social and infrastructure collapse despite what the (falsified and irrelevant) metrics of standard economics say.

    Our current task is the intellectual preparation to develop social-political-economic theories better (in moral philosophical and scientific terms) and more persuasive than those of populism and fascism which are the barbaric alternative. We are at or very near to a crucial juncture in human and civilizational history.

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