Adventures in Debunking Economics

Perhaps the most surreal moment in Debunking Economics – Professor Steve Keen’s broadside against mainstream economic theory – comes when he proves that a functioning “free market” would require a “benevolent dictatorship”. In reality, the proof is not his: astonishingly, he takes it from “a neoclassical textbook … used in the training of virtually every American PhD student since the late 1990s”. According to conventional economic theory, we all buy more of something the cheaper it gets. To reach this conclusion, economists constructed a model of a single individual – Robinson Crusoe on his desert island – worked out that the theory holds (given some reductive assumptions about human behaviour), then extrapolated it to the whole of society. Hey presto! Continue reading

The EU’s all-out war on Syriza shows just how far it will go to crush democracy

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In The Black Power Mixtape – Swedish journalists’ portrait of the 1967-75 US struggle for black equality – civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael offers the following criticism of Martin Luther King:

“Dr. King’s policy was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for black people in the United States. His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That’s very good. He only made one fallacious assumption: in order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.”

As a critique of non-violence in the civil rights struggle, this is debatable. But in the wake of Greece’s stand-off with the Eurogroup, Carmichael’s indictment of “an opponent without a conscience” acquires a peculiar resonance. Continue reading