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Monday, 20 March 2017

More about the ECONOCRACY

I have spent much of the weekend completing my reading of the book by Manchester Economics postgraduates, in which they expose the dire state of the academic subject of Economics as it is presented to students. The dogmatism that is disclosed is horrifying from the student perspective, and despicable in my perception [as one who spent quarter of a century teaching aspects of Economics and of Economic History in a leading northern university; mercifully before the prevailing phase of the subject had begun to harden].

Reasonably, the students want what they have been taught by the authoritarian system to stand as a useful part of their education: within a much more pluralistic universe of economic thought than that which currently exists. They have each invested several years of their lives in qualifying; and quite reasonably can wish that their investment will not wholly be wasted. Unsurprisingly, they have not yet constructed in any detail a vision of what the suggested pluralistic subject could contain.

Broadly, they have come to the position that I recognised in the then much less dogmatic corpus of Economics in the late nineteen-sixties. Already a group had gathered around Lord Robbins of LSE and Charles Carter [Professor at Belfast then V-C of Lancaster] who determined what was 'fit' to be published in the leading British academic journal: they also [and almost exclusively] decided who was ready to be a professor. The basis for the later hegemony of the next-generation-but-one of professors was being laid. I was able to slide round the dogmatists, even serving as Dean and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, before I escaped to the City.

Over half a century I have come to the conclusion that Economics is so fundamentally flawed that the existing structure cannot be redeemed: hence I have published my  short book NO CONFIDENCE. I hope that the young people in Manchester will accept my output as an input to the pluralistic world view that they advocate.

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