COP26 #18 (why everything you know about economics is probably wrong)…

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Most of the problems that our world is faced with at present are economic ones.

Or to put it another way, the way we organise our economic relations at both macro and micro levels is both the cause and the sustaining circumstance of global warming.

Or to put it one more way, any solution to the climate emergency has to be an economic one.

These things being said, where are the economic solutions? Why are different economic arrangements being not being openly discussed and debated in the mainstream media on a daily basis? Where are the breakthrough ideas? Where is the careful economic critical analysis of just how our economies are bringing us towards disaster? More importantly, what might be the best economic solutions?

Part of the problem is political. After all, economic theory is mostly seen through the lens of sectarian politics. ‘Progressive’ left wing solutions have been so effectively dismissed, vilified and undermined that it has become entirely logical to dismiss them as crackpot communism. Consider the efforts to introduce a version of the Green New Deal both sides of the Atlantic and the partisan campaign fought against it.

Another part of the problem is that the power of wealth suffocates all threats to their own ascendancy. This is not always deliberate (although often it is) rather it is an emergent quality of privilege and systems that have evolved that enshrine inequality and over consumption.

Then there is something about the nature of economics itself as an acedemic discipline. Remember the Post Crash Economics Society? The study of economics has too often happened within the comfort of its own establishment. There are many notable exceptions but the students revolted for good reason.

Having said all that, the ideas are there if you look for them. More than this, I would argue thtat we MUST look for them. We must find a way to educate ourselves so that when we hear both political parties talking about national debt and gross domestic product as the main economic factors that determine and justify economic policies we can scoff in their faces from a position of knowledge. With that in mind, the point of this post is to propose a couple of places to start.

Firstly, the world being done by the New Economics Foundation. You can read their latest e zine here which gives a good spread of articles from a different perspective.

Next, consider the brilliant work done by Thomas Piketty. Here is a TED talk he did about the role of wealth in our societies, and how this is pulling us towards destruction.

Finally, one of our own Kate Rowarth, who has given us a very simple and powerful model that might replace our dominant neoliberal hegemony. Here are 7 short vids that might change the whole world- start with this one and follow it through.

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