Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Phineas Harper posts (28 November) on dezeen HERE 
"It is time to stop listening to Patrik Schumacher"
“Giving a keynote lecture slot at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, Schumacher unveiled an urban vision of hyper-exaggerated "laissez faire" economics with total faith placed in "the market" to solve all conceivable problems. It came across like a satire of Hayekian economic theory, distorted to grotesque absurdity and applied without nuance to modern cities, except he meant it. …
… It is on economics where Schumacherism really falls apart. Ben Clark, a London-based urban designer whose paper on funding new cities was awarded a Wolfson Economics Prize by the right-of-centre think tank Policy Exchange, takes a dim view.
"It's economically illiterate" argues Clark. "If laissez faire politics is his thing, Patrik Schumacher should try learning from the likes of Adam Smith, godfather of 'the free market'. Smith never saw the 'invisible hand' of the market working alone, and had a sophisticated understanding of the role of the state. In his seminal text the Wealth of Nations, Smith recommends using some of the rents within cities to pay for public services, for example. Simply privatising and deregulating absolutely everything down to the last park and street as Schumacher proposes is sheer market fundamentalism, and will only intensify our current crisis."
I don’t know why Phineas Harper is so worried about Patrik Schumacher's wacky ideas. There is no way that the entire world’s architecture is going to change so radically any time this or in the next century.
Meanwhile, Adm Smith was not ‘the godfather of the free market’.
Others beside Smith were writing about similar ideas around the same time: for example:
The National Gain (Swedish title: Den nationnale winsten) is the main work of the Finnish scientist, philosopher and politician Anders Chydenius, published in 1765. In this thesis Chydenius argues in favour of free export trade rights for the province of Ostrobothnia and lays down the principles of liberalism and the free markets - for example, free trade and industry - eleven years before Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (1776).’ [Apologies: haste required that I quoted from Wikipedia! ]
There were other pioneers in France too, though they went off track in seeing agriculture as the only productive sector. 
Only because modern economists have invented a narrative for Adam Smith that places him at the centre of their political fantasies do they laud him as ‘god father’ with ‘an invisible hand’ too.

Smith’s actual and laudable role deserves credit. He does not need invented worship of the kind regularly produced by modern media, nor does he need adulation from people who have not studied - let alone read his Works.


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