Mirage and Reality; Reflections on the Neoclassical Economics and Neoclassical Economic Policy


Σειρά Δημοσιεύσεων Οικονομικού Τμήματος, Αρ. 63

Introduction; Keynes’ Hopes and Current Reality

In 1945 at a Royal Economic Society dinner John Maynard Keynes toasted:

“to economics and economists who are the trustees, not of civilisation, but the possibilities of civilisation”.

This summarised Keynes’ hopes and beliefs which held even that in the darkest days of the Great Depression that

“the day is not far off when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and that the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied, or preoccupied, by our real problems, the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behaviour and religion”… “The love of money as a possession –as distinguished from the love of money as means to the enjoyments and realities of life- will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease”.

His view was that:

… the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years. This means that the economic problem is not – if we look into the future – the permanent problem of the human race… But chiefly, do not let us overestimate the importance of the economic problem… it should be a matter for specialists – like dentistry. If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on the level with dentists, that would be splendid![1]

Contrary to Keynes’ hopes almost a century after the above lines were written the ‘economic problem’ is not solved but on the contrary economic system has demonstrated its inability to persistently generate a fully employed economy. Instead, the enormous anomalies of unemployment and poverty and the gross inequalities of income and wealth without equal in the historical record are produced and sustained under the economic policies guided by the prevailing ‘individualism’ of the economic dogma of neoclassical ‘free markets’. For almost 50 years the neoclassical ideology tradition of Laissez Faire and its transfigured free market policy dogma loosely described as neoliberal has seized both the theoretical discourse in economics and the economic policy debate as the Holy Inquisition had seized Spain.

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[1] Keynes J. M. (1930)

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