“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist” ~ John Maynard Keynes
Economics – It is a subject that for many seem as dry & distant as they come, but as elucidated by the quote above economics is a discipline – whether we are conscious of it or not – which fundamentally rules our minds, social structures and even the most miniscule aspects of our lives. Like a puppeteer or a wizard hiding behind a curtain the particular variety of economic logic which happens to inundate us is very much a determinant of what we think of as possible (and impossible), how we treat (or maltreat) one another (as well as other forms of life) and even how we conceive of our own self-worth and that of our peers.
Like the air we breath, we are so inextricably intertwined with economics that we often spend a great portion of our lives – or their entirety – completely unaware of the strings that are subtlety pulling us this way and that and how these processes can if blindly followed steer us away from solutions & insights that may very well be the key to greater liberty, prosperity and social progress.
Like a lense, the brand of economic logic we may identify with, or have been indoctrinated by, can narrow our views to such an extent that when we encounter perspectives outside of those we have been inculcated over our lives as being "right" extraordinarily strong emotions can ensue. From a Cold War which on more than one occasion brought humanity to the edge of nuclear annihilation*, to a practically endless stream of the real kind, the potential for a given group, tribe or nation to become lost in their particular brand of economic jingoism can become so pervasive that their ability to engage in dispassionate open dialog and rational evidence-based analysis can all too easily be compromised.
As is becoming obvious with the confluence of ecological, social and economic crises humanity now faces, we as a species are still far from understanding & solving the myriad of issues we collectively face and why in this day and age it is all the more important for all of us to open our minds to as wide a berth of perspectives as possible in order to expand & progress our thinking if we will have any hope of rising to the challenges before us.
To that end, this next excellent podcast from economist Richard Wolff discusses the dominant and often contending economic theories that have brought us to today and how each – if not dogmatically adhered to – can offer an array of alternative lenses in coming to a more complete understanding of the tumultuous world we currently occupy as well as arm us with a much expanded & potent toolkit for crafting – for the whole of humanity – a world of greater abundance & equality.
NOTE: If you are unable to see the audio player above you can download the podcast by clicking HERE.
If you enjoyed this podcast and are interested in exploring this subject further I highly recommend picking up a copy of Richard Wolff's and Stephen A. Resnick's book, "Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian":