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POL

Seven years after the onset of the global financial crisis, when it was widely said that orthodox economic thinking had failed and should change, it is evident that any such changes have been far from decisive. Some would say it looks pretty much like business as usual. This is not just the case in the academy, where the core courses in university economics departments continue to emphasize basic training (some would say indoctrination) in neoclassical economic principles. It is also evident in the realm of economic policy which continues to be dominated by a neoliberal agenda, augmented by the post-crash politics of austerity. This resilience of mainstream economics makes it essential for dissenters to continually reconsider how best to challenge orthodoxy both in theory and practice. – Frank Stilwell

Frank Stilwell, professor emeritus at the University of Sydney, says that the “heterodox” name we’ve given our movement is academically respectable but strategically weak. He says “heterodox economics” is about too many things – Marxism, post-Keynesianism, ecological economics, feminist economics, complexity economics, game theory plus dozens of other alternative thrusts and that accommodating all these approaches may be blunting our challenge to economic orthodoxy.

Stilwell suggests we lump all these strains into the one powerful idea of a “political economy” … the notion that economies have no natural form and are structured by power relations prone to inequality, corruption and crisis. In other words, he suggests we abandon the idea of economics as a value-free science and embrace it as a forum of political struggle.

“Political economy” he says, has a long and respectable lineage running from eighteenth century through to the twenty first with seminal contributions from Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Veblen, Keynes, Robinson, Mydal, Galbraith, Heilbronner and Piketty, and that from this broader historical perspective, neoclassical economics may be regarded as a side-track that evolved into the dominant orthodoxy because it was championed by a bunch of mathematically minded ‘logic freaks’ who wanted to see their discipline evolve into a hard, value-free science like physics.

Stilwell’s curve ball into our movement makes imminent sense. We shouldn’t be nitpicking between economic alternatives. Our first job is to go for the jugular and bring neoclassical economics to its knees.

— Kalle Lasn, Meme Wars – The Creative Destruction of Neoclassical Economics