Thursday, August 23, 2007

Is This Serious or a Deep Joke?

From: Economics of Utopia: H. G. Wells 23 August

"From its beginning the earthly study of economics has been infertile and unhelpful, because of the mass of unanalysed and scarcely suspected assumptions upon which it rested. The facts were ignored that trade is a bye-product and not an essential factor in social life, that property is a plastic and fluctuating convention, that value is capable of impersonal treatment only in the case of the most generalised requirements. Wealth was measured by the standards of exchange. Society was regarded as a practically unlimited number of avaricious adult units incapable of any other subordinate groupings than business partnerships, and the sources of competition were assumed to be inexhaustible. Upon such quicksands rose an edifice that aped the securities of material science, developed a technical jargon and professed the discovery of “laws.” Our liberation from these false presumptions through the rhetoric of Carlyle and Ruskin and the activities of the Socialists, is more apparent than real. The old edifice oppresses us still, repaired and altered by indifferent builders, underpinned in places, and with a slight change of name. “Political Economy” has been painted out, and instead we read “Economics—under entirely new management.” Modern Economics differs mainly from old Political Economy in having produced no Adam Smith. The old “Political Economy” made certain generalisations, and they were mostly wrong; new Economics evades generalisations, and seems to lack the intellectual power to make them. The science hangs like a gathering fog in a valley, a fog which begins nowhere and goes nowhere, an incidental, unmeaning inconvenience to passers-by. Its most typical exponents display a disposition to disavow generalisations altogether, to claim consideration as “experts,” and to make immediate political application of that conceded claim. Now Newton, Darwin, Dalton, Davy, Joule, and Adam Smith did not affect this “expert” hankey-pankey, becoming enough in a hairdresser or a fashionable physician, but indecent in a philosopher or a man of science. In this state of impotent expertness, however, or in some equally unsound state, economics must struggle on—a science that is no science, a floundering lore wallowing in a mud of statistics—until either the study of the material organisation of production on the one hand as a development of physics and geography, or the study of social aggregation on the other, renders enduring

Could anybody tell me what the above is about? It's from the Cambridge Forecast Group Blog here.

Its was written in yellow in on a blue background. The organisation seems serious enough, but what's the message?


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