Sunday, December 20, 2015


Posted on Bella Caledonia, a Scottish Blog, broadly supportive of Scottish Independence, (20 December), HERE addressing an entirely different issue from the usual one of “invisible hand metaphor:
“It is a remarkable characteristic of major shibboleths in our society that matters that would quickly be seen as being logically contradictory, factually unsustainable, rationally incoherent or merely ridiculous can survive unscathed as conventional, unchallengeable wisdom for endless decades simply because they are long established in society as sources of unexamined authority, and the incoherence is never allowed to be exposed to critical, independent examination outside the narrow context of the established, even revered convention, or beyond the control or reach of the arbiters who manage it; the priesthood of the conventional wisdom.” 
Nevertheless, the paragraph could have been written as a direct description of the false post-Paul Samuelson account of what Adam Smith meant when he used the metaphor of “an invisible hand” on two distinctly different occasions and how it subsequntly spread throughout the economics profession from 1948 and today straddles the entire “priesthood” of the discipline.

Certainly the “priesthood” of our discipline from Nobel Prize winners down through to junior staff teaching in Economics 101 tutorials across the entire world appears to be self-mesmerised by a supposed "invisible hand" at work, variously, in "free markets", which do not exist anywhere (and never have), in "supply and demand" theory, in "price theory" and in doctrinaire ideologies of Left and Right.


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