Saturday, April 23, 2016

Economists tend to be "capitalist economists"

Policymakers are responsible for the serious social and economic problems we are facing since the outbreak of the financial crisis in the United States in 2007/8 that spread to Europe and other regions of the world.

Policymakers ask economists for diagnosis and prescription or are economists themselves. Most economists give their advice within a given framework, i.e. the current world economic system. The current global economic system is a capitalist system. 

This means that economists give a capitalist economic advice. So it would be accurate to call them "capitalist economists", rather than using the neutral term "economist".

Universities train their students to become "capitalist economists" and that's what most of them will become. Sure, there is criticism of capitalism in the curriculum (or I hope there is), but that does not change the basic education and indoctrination into capitalist economics.

I am in favour of educating students in the functioning of the capitalist system, and I am in favour of calling the discipline "capitalist economics". Obviously, it would be useful if students were educated as well in the history of capitalist economics and capitalist economies (including China), and in the critical thinking about the dogmas of capitalist economics and capitalist economists, and the realities of capitalist societies and the capitalist global system. In this way they may become critical capitalist economists, and some of them may even become "alternative" economists imagining a different world (which is also useful, particularly given the Paris Climate Agreement and worldwide social inequality). 

What most policymakers all over the world are thinking and doing is as capitalist as what most  policymakers in the US and Europe are thinking and doing. However, there are nuances and those nuances are important. For example, Europe still has a social capitalist variant.

I think Europe should preserve, defend and advocate its social model.And economists should do the same, be they teachers, policy analysts or policy advisers.

Sure, some of them may also defend an asocial variant. No problem, as long as they say so explicitly.

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