The Crisis in Economics: The Post-Autistic Economics Movement: The first 600 days, Edward Fullbrook (editor)

Mainstream economics is mired in assumptions divorced from any real life practice, and builds model on those flawed assumptions. Luckily, there has been a growing movement to bring back realism into economics, and that includes attention for sharing behaviours. The Post-Autistic Economics movement is one of its expressions, so the following book is very importat to peer to peer theory.

The PAE Network started in France and has spread first to Cambridge and then other parts of the world. The name derives from the fact that mainstream economics has been accused of institutional autism; i.e., qualitative impairment of social interaction, failure to develop peer relationships and lack of emotional and social reciprocity. In short, economics has lost touch with reality and has become way too abstract.

From time to time, disciplines need to be, and in fact are, shaken up and virtually reconstituted. This seems to be especially true of the social sciences, where Economics lives in a kind of halfway house haunted by spectres of its venerable bearded ancestors, which the parents pretend never existed. However, like third generation immigrants, the new students want to know more about their roots, especially with regard to the deeply humanistic ethos which informed the discipline in its earliest days.

This provocative book charts the impact the PAE Network has had so far and constitutes a manifesto for a different kind of economics – it features key contributions from all the major voices in heterodox economics including Tony Lawson, Deirdre McCloskey, Geoff Hodgson, Sheila Dow and Warren Samuels.

1 Comment The Crisis in Economics: The Post-Autistic Economics Movement: The first 600 days, Edward Fullbrook (editor)

  1. AvatarMichel

    Thanks for posting this Jeff, I found this quote with more info on the book:


    “From the 1960s onward, neoclassical economists have increasingly managed to block the employment of non-neoclassical economists in university economics departments and to deny them opportunities to publish in professional journals. They also have narrowed the economics curriculum that universities offer students. At the same time they have increasingly formalized their theory, making it progressively irrelevant to understanding economic reality. And now they are even banishing economic history and the history of economic thought from the curriculum, these being places where the student might be exposed to non-neoclassical ideas. Why has this tragedy happened?

    Many factors have contributed; I will mention only three. First, neoclassical economists have as a group deluded themselves into believing that all you need for an exact science is mathematics, and never mind about whether the symbols used refer quantitatively to the real world. What began as an indulgence became an addiction, leading to a collective fantasy of scientific achievement where in most cases none exists. To preserve their illusions, neoclassical economists have found it increasingly necessary to isolate themselves from non-believers.

    Second, as Joseph Stiglitz has observed, economics has suffered “a triumph of ideology over science�.1 Instead of regarding their theory as a tool in the pursuit of knowledge, neoclassical economists have made it the required viewpoint from which, at all times and in all places, to look at all economic phenomena. This is the position of neoliberalism.

    Third, today’s economies, including the societies in which they are embedded, are very different from those of the 19th century for which neoclassical economics was invented to describe. These differences become more pronounced every decade as new aspects of economic reality emerge, for example, consumer societies, corporate globalization, economic induced environmental disasters and impending ecological ones, the accelerating gap between the rich and poor, and the movement for equal-opportunity economies. Consequently neoclassical economics sheds light on an ever-smaller proportion of economic reality, leaving more and more of it in the dark for students permitted only the neoclassical viewpoint. This makes the neoclassical monopoly more outrageous and costly every year, requiring of it ever more desperate measures of defense, like eliminating economic history and history of economics from the curriculum.

    But eventually reality overtakes time-warp worlds like mainstream economics and the Soviet Union. The moment and place of the tipping point, however, nearly always takes people by surprise. In June 2000, a few economics students in Paris circulated a petition calling for the reform of their economics curriculum. One doubts that any of those students in their wildest dreams anticipated the effect their initiative would have. Their petition was short, modest and restrained. Its first part, “We wish to escape from imaginary worldsâ€?, summarizes what they were protesting against”

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