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Friday, 29 May 2009

The need for a new model of the economy

Been thinking this crurent economic crisis should be an opportunity in so many ways - not just in terms of using it as an opportunity to re-direct the economy in a more sustainable and renewable energy manner - a la 'Green New Deal' - see - but equally, if not more fundamentally, to break with the dominance of neo-classical economics. While I've been writing and critiquing neo-classical economics for over 20 years for its limited focus (orthodox measures of GNP/GDP thus excluding non-monetised work and exchange, especially the gender labour in the domestic sphere, as well as of course the 'free' and unpriced 'gifts' of the ecosystem) and its promoition of 'economic growth' as a structural necessity for the economy (that is, the economy needs continual economic growth in order to stave off failure - impossible in a finite biophysical work, and undesirable in relation to human well-being), the recent 'Toxic textbooks' campaign
has reminded me of the need for a deeper reform of not just how we re-organise the economy but how we understand what the economy is. Part of the point here is that neo-classical economics is a) as value-based and ideological as any alternative account of the economy - i.e. it is a form of political economy just like Marxism, green political economy etc. but b) its dominance 'crowds out' these competing models thus supressing pluralism, debate and contention - why would we assume that there is one model for the economy and how to understand and conceptualise it, when we wouldn't accept that there is one model or conceptualisation of the polity or society?

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