"Such is our current frustration with so many aspects of our society, that it seems we are finally beginning to question the ideology of the free market... The ethical vacuum at the heart of capitalism, its inability to distinguish between what is right or wrong behaviour towards others, as long as it makes a profit, is no longer viewed with quite the same tolerance."
Sue Gerhardt, Guardian.co.uk
Governments still rely on economists steeped in orthodox thinking for advice. If things are to change, a clearer understanding of how the economy works is needed, not just by economists and policy-makers, but also by the wider general public – a voter who votes in ignorance forges the chains that bind him. Economists have erected round their subject an intimidating barrier of jargon and maths, but this site and the books in our catalogue are intended to give the layman, the voter, a grasp of the basic principles.
Anthony Werner, Publisher
The majority of the author’s professional life has been spent in banking and the computer industry. He had senior roles in the design of new technologies for banks by multinational companies and in the application of these technologies by banks. He discovered the economic teaching of Leon MacLaren in the late 1970s and has run public courses teaching these ideas for many years .
ISBN 9780856832918 | Price: £14.95
Over the weekend 28th-29th June a conference on ‘Rethinking Economics’ is being held at University College London. For programme and speakers see rethinkingeconomicslondon.org
Rethinking Economics is an international network of students campaigning for pluralism within economics, particularly the economics curriculum, which is, at present, heavily biased towards the methods of the neoclassical school. Rethinking Economics was launched with the 2013 conference, and brought together a number of smaller groups advocating changes to economics. Together, those groups, along with many others, produced the ISIPE open letter, calling for an overhaul of the way economics is taught.
Writing in the Real World Economics Association’s blog, Edward Fulbrook comments: ‘It is not only the world economy that is in crisis. The teaching of economics is in crisis too, and this crisis has consequences far beyond the university walls. What is taught shapes the minds of the next generation of policymakers, and therefore shapes the societies we live in.’
In 1994 Shepheard-Walwyn published The Corruption of Economics in which Professor Mason Gaffney charged his colleagues with using a theoretical apparatus that is fatally flawed. He accused the founders of neoclassical economics of acting in bad faith, bending the science of economics to protect vested interests. In this they succeeded, but in debasing their discipline, economists deprived themselves of the ability to diagnose problems, forecast trends and prescribe solutions.
The fact that ‘nobody saw it [2008 crash] coming’ suggests the accuracy of that charge. As long ago as 1983 Shepheard-Walwyn published The Power in the Land in which Fred Harrison, on the basis of a different economic model, warned of the 1990 crash and recession. Again in 2005 in Boom Bust: House Prices, Banking and the Depression of 2010, he warned of the 2008 crash which led to the ‘Great Recession’. The Depression was avoided by bank bailouts and quantitative easing, shifting the burden onto the taxpayer.
To avoid a repetition of these economic disasters, the students are to be congratulated for their initiative. We hope they will find food for thought in our Ethical Economics list.
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In 2010 international environment lawyer and activist Polly Higgins proposed to the United Nations Law Commission that Ecocide be made the fifth Crime Against Peace as a way of halting the degradation of the environment. In Eradicating Ecocide, she argues that our planet is fast being destroyed by the activities of corporations and governments, facilitated by ‘compromise’ laws that offer insufficient deterrence.
Under her proposal, a law of Ecocide would create a duty of care, a duty owed collectively by humanity to the Earth. She distinguishes between Trusteeship Law which is about putting the welfare of the beneficiary first, as distinct from Property Law which views the Earth as a tradable commodity. This requires a change in our values.
In her second book, Earth is our Business, she takes up the issue of a change in our values. The purpose of the Law of Ecocide is not to imprison those who offend against it, but to redirect economic activity from current practices towards a sustainable economy. To read more, click here.
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