Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A 'Futurist' Who Does Not Understand the Past (or the Present)

From the department of wishful thinking (but nice with it) we often get assessments of the condition of the world that are breathtaking in their ascription for the failings of developing and non-developing countries to the ‘failures’ of markets, when their alleged failures are down to government-induced determination to prevent market working, supported by beneficiaries in the countries that over a couple of hundred years did let markets work to an extent.

Hazel Henderson, ‘futurist, syndicated columnist, author of many books including Ethical Markets: Growing The Green Economy’ (2007)’ writes (2 April) on World Changing Team (‘another world is here ‘) a punchy piece entitled, “Time for True Market Reform”, which ends with this paragraph:

Market reform is coming to mean reforming markets and capitalism itself. Would Adam Smith be surprised? Probably not, since he lauded the dynamism of capitalism. Schumpeter later saw the evolution of markets as "creative destruction," as seen today in the new "disruptive" technologies of cleaner, greener energy and resource-use now challenging coal, oil, and nuclear power. The new values and ethical concerns driving the further evolution of capitalism reflect the new imperatives of the 21st century on our small, endangered planet. Smith's famous "invisible hand" turned out to be our own…not some metaphysical force. Guided by our growing human awareness of what we have wrought on this planet and our potential for further development, all our long-term self-interests are now indivisible . Ethics and morality are becoming the new pragmatism.”

Typical of the Chicago consensus, Hazel Henderson confuses Adam Smith the consensus purveys with the other Adam Smith from Kirkcaldy, who never ‘lauded the dynamism of capitalism’ – he never knew the phenomenon nor the word (first used in 1854 by Thackery to describe the capital of financiers) nor did he have a ‘famous “invisible hand”.

His lonely metaphor for human motivation was transformed by Chicago long after he died in 1790 into a ‘metaphysical force’, which he would have been more than surprised about because he never hinted that body parts had anything to do with markets.

As an exercise in politically motivated wishful thinking, you can read the rest of Henderson’s article, assuming you have nothing else to do of even minimal importance, at: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/006410.html


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