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Road map to the exit from economic dogmatism PDF Print E-mail
The Labour Movement-Economy
factory_odikos_xartisThere is a 'road map' to the exit from the authority of economic theories and their impact on individual life of everyone and at international level generally. In this article, we shall see, inter alia, how Keynes - in spite of the hybrid character of his theory – could not avoid the idealisation of his model. We shall also see the distortion of the markets of every type by the politico-military complex and the phenomenon of corruption common to the whole human race, the interrelation between doctrine and climate change, and the totalitarian nature of the major concentrations of money.

Idealisation in the hybrid theory of Keynes
In 'The Hidden Deficit of Economic Theories'[i] we commented on the fact that both the theory of 'free markets' and of Marxism idealised that aspect to which they gave emphasis. The one has idealised the importance of the principle of 'regulation' and the other the importance of that of 'competition' for a sustainable economy.[ii] Their dogmatic one-sidedness has proved catastrophic in the field of life.

Idealisation in Keynes's theory was more moderate than that of the theories of Adam Smith and Karl Marx, but proved to be a double-edged sword. We can see this in the logic of a populism which can also operate in favour of corporatism. It has affinities with the fascist model as an intermediary model.

Of course, the fascist model is based on purely political hegemony - outside parliamentarianism - and, consequently, on a 'gentlemen's agreement' between politics and the world of the economy, in distinct roles. This is also observable - in one sense - as a model in the hybrid states of emergent economies, as is the case with the collaboration of the Communist Party and entrepreneurial organisation in China. We can also see the same thing, in the past, in other hybrid situations, as, for example, in Pinochet's junta, with the parallel development of a neo-liberal policy in which, in essence, the word and the meaning of 'liberal' was robbed of value through the exercise of a policy of privatisations of a privatised totalitarianism.

Keynes operated within a framework of parliamentary maturity and rational bringing out of parameters which - one could say - should be self-evident for the application of a regulation. He adopted the approach of the avoidance of entrapment by those doctrines which concern the shortage of money, means and their direction, the support of employment, and the development and redistribution of human need.

Corruption: present in all systems
The problem, nevertheless, lies in the politics[iii] of corruption of the system: human demand does not develop responsibility in the management of these social funds from social resources and makes use of them in a way which means declining yield, both qualitatively, in aims involving quality of life and social organisation and civilisation, and economically. At the same time, a form of corruption can develop through the regime of public state procurements and the interweaving of vested interests, which - in any event - is not needed by Keynesianism in order for it to develop, since it develops through the direct relation between private and political totalitarianism, precisely because both these groups function in full accord and with power over the resources, and power in general, as their aim. Αnd corruption is a sufficient factor.

In any event, these focal points, the window-dressing of theory, the incapability of self-fulfilment and of observing weaknesses and imperfections - especially with their transition into the practical field - were a theoretical deficit initially which was transferred into politics, with fundamental side-effects and definitive distortions.

The economy and the politico-military complex
A large part of the productive activity of so-called existent socialism was committed to the development of weapons systems, with the result that its resources and services were trapped in a politico-military complex. In a similar way, on a larger scale, the same corruption held sway both in the Nazi and fascist ideological territory and in that of the states with so-called parliamentary democracy.

The familiar critical approach of the economist and adviser to US Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Johnson John Kenneth Galbraith militates in favour of this appraisal.[iv] Also well-known, and voiced publicly, is the position of the former President of the United States Eisenhower, a military man, who was worried by the negative consequences of the increased role of the defence industry in America. He spoke, for example, of the fact that this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government .[v]

The historian John Keegan was struck by this attitude on the part of a former senior officer, and noted that Eisenhower was concerned because arms manufacturers began to exert pressures on senators to spend money on that particular branch and, frequently, with specific factories.5

In reality, this problem is an enduring one. We see it also in the degeneration of Atatürk's reforms into a politico-economic complex which, on the one hand, gives expression to socially progressive positions, but, on the other, operates as a factor for institutional oligarchic totalitarianism and corruption in the evolution of economic and social life in its entirety, thus providing an alibi for fundamentalism, which, likewise, is pursuing its own totalitarianism.

The development of international economic groups and these problems of totalitarianism have worked by osmosis as communicating vessels. Two typical examples could be quoted:

1. the support in terms of capital of the initial basis of the Bolshevik Revolution

2. the entrepreneurial osmosis between the capital of Western democracies with the countries of the Axis during the Second World War.

Economic dogmatism and totalitarianism
There is a need now for this whole complex to be stripped naked in terms of knowledge, communications, and ethics. Knowledge is a fundamental factor for healthy systems, both of the market and of political governance. But this is not being satisfactorily channelled, because the media too are in the possession of collaborators or corporate figures who amount to the same thing.

A. There is, that is to say, a private totalitarianism, instead of the free market.

B. At the same time, we have also been witnesses of state totalitarianism.

C. There are many versions of state totalitarianism, some of which can develop in a Keynesian manner and function as synergies between state and private totalitarianism.

In reality, economic totalitarianism can be dubbed as 'free market', be represented as 'development', and make its appearance as 'popular capitalism', while being, nevertheless, a monstrous parody of Adam Smith's concept and the preconditions set by micro-economic theory as to the market, competitiveness, liberalism, and private enterprise.

Economic dogmatism and advertising
Theoretically speaking, advertising ought not to exist at all, and yet we have not seen any theoretician denouncing it and linking it with the distortions of the market. These distortions are connected with the cycle of communications entrepreneurialism and the society of spectacle, with which they have political synergies. They are also meshed with  domains such as social unions, which, of course, turn into businesses or become a mask. A typical example is the way in which the world organisation of the sports community operates.

In essence, we have to do with a real degradation of theories, and it is to be wondered at that all these theoreticians and university academics have so unprotestingly accepted the degeneration of the theory of liberalism - and not only that - to such a low point that it has become a new 'name of the rose'.

We are, regrettably, at a point where knowledge - where it exists and if it exists - should be ashamed of not undertaking its responsibilities and of not expressing its opinion, of its non-participation in the revealing dialogue, and of its hypocritical incorporation.

The economy: science, or a different religion?
As to an assessment of economic theories, it could be said that it is time that we applied much stricter criteria of scientific evaluation and observation. We now have the instruments for and a historical estimation of great chronological depth of impacts, ideas, and policies at a social, economic, cultural, and political level. We must, at last, implement the criterion of the assessment of doctrine in the applied field, in the field of applied policy, of applied economy - something we have also proposed for the sphere of religion.

It is not right for us to except the economy from scientific investigation, particularly when it wants to be called a science. Its achievement and prospects can and should be measured with mathematics. If a scientific theory really wishes to be measured, this should be done openly without 'creative' nomenklaturas and the 'poplars' of dogmatic paternalism in the policies.

We are faced with a deficit of policy in the framework of the economy, of peace, and of international unity, as well as of social justice. A totalitarianism, an economic modelisation has been employed in this as a doctrine of enforcement- assertion.

Up to now, a doctrine which has been given the name of a science of development has been used, through competitiveness and the 'invisible hand',[vi] benefiting the consumer and the citizen. In reality, however, the 'invisible hand' has not distributed the good which the champions of the theory awaited. What has been redistributed through the market has been none other than the technological dividend, the discoveries, that is, of science, of knowledge, of innovation, and of research, which have been made to a very large degree through the universities and the educational system, that is, through the public good of education, knowledge, and freedom of thought. But this was not a dividend of the invisible hand.

As a result of this, a substitute has been found for the responsibility of governments and states for dealing with issues of the economy, of peace, and of international unity on a more fundamental basis. In the same way, in the end, the way towards a handling of climate changes has also been lost.

Economic dogmatism and climate change
The problem of climate change is one which could not even have existed - and could have not followed the dramatic course which it has, and which will be long-term - if policies of correct distribution and regulation of vested interests had worked together. Unchecked economic interests are connected with:

A. increased demand and consumption

B. the stimulation of man’s desire for things which he does not in fact need and which impair the quality of life

C. the hegemony of the production and amassing of wealth.

In order to survive, the hegemony of the production and amassing of wealth makes use of every kind of knowledge and faculty in its aim of making the dominant impulse desire for what is useless, superfluous, and harmful, and for the consumer model for life which does not reflect the deeper needs of man and cannot be served on terms of social justice and quality, of civilisation and spirituality.

The labour movement,[vii] clearly influenced by the dominant glamour of desire - and the glamour of the 'leisure class'[viii] - has moved in erroneous directions and has been alienated, while at the same time not calling into question the hegemony of the oligarchy of wealth.

The oligarchy of wealth has used effectively certain methodological tools in the same way that scholasticism in the Middle Ages did as an intellectual, and, in the end, political, hegemony of religious obscurantism over historical developments, human civilisation, and human relations. Today's dominant fascination, authority, and deception of economic theory need to be abandoned and stripped completely naked.

If we employed the technological dividend on terms of the reduction of consumption and a better apportionment of it, a redistribution of the system of wealth-creating resources beyond private greed and private totalitarianism, and if we functioned on the principle of sharing in a liberating, creative, and co-operative way, and if we adopted another cultural model for life, then we would not at the present time be facing the issue of climate change.

We could have already dealt with the question of climate change, thus laying down the foundations for the post-War world. We did not do this. We lost a great deal of time on this and not only on this. We lost time to the detriment of peace and prosperity, which to some degree depend upon the arithmetical data of the economy. Peace and prosperity could exist today through a better economy and other models for life and the management of resources.

A road map
The natural conclusion drawn from these reflections leads to the question 'what do we do now?' It could be said - in the light of existing economic theories - that the matter is not resolved exclusively by the formation of a new economic theory. A commonly accepted 'road map for liberation' from the aggravating restrictions of the anthropological factor, to be followed voluntarily by citizens, would constitute a crucial step forward - not only for the economy, but for civilisation.

For the invigoration of the positive human resources and the transubstantiation of the negative - something which would form the appropriate psychological atmosphere for the solution of the economic problems - the following steps are proposed:

1. Operational frameworks should be formed to deal with state, socio-cultural, and private totalitarianism. Private totalitarianism includes the deceptively named 'free markets' or 'markets of competitiveness'. Of course - as in any undertaking - these operational plans will be faced with their own disadvantages.

2. There should be education of the human factor with a view to reducing its mania for consumption, and liberating it from the psychology of 'I consume, therefore I am' which has been sold and functions as an animal psychological atavism. The consumption mania operates as a narcissism which leads to a diversion from reason and from real need, deals a fatal blow to the sustainability of the environment, and to the values in the economic and social system.

3. A culture of a shift and detachment from the field of cultural fixation with money. This will permit its real redistribution, will meet real need, and will avert the phenomena of its over-concentration in the hands of a few, who in the nature of things serve as mechanisms of totalitarianism. This educational process cannot but include the life cycle of each day, the process of education in schools, the emergence of new models for quality of life - which should be sustainable both for the environment and for spiritual civilisation. This educational intervention is, then, naturally long-term.

4. A new institutional framework should be shaped with particular emphasis on the protection of the environment. The educational intervention described above will naturally be long-term, and for that reason we should take up a position in terms of communications and make use of the inevitable - from an anthropological viewpoint - phases of crises, which are always opportunities for the shaping of new models and of a new institutional field. The establishing of new institutions should be an on-going process, because the aberration of civilisation in relation to the environment and the field of cultural values has deep roots. Constant institutionalising should include products, goods, services of the economy, transparency of the economy, its apportionment, its justness, and its substantive legality.

5. A new organ for international economic co-operation should be constituted. This should operate purely on the principle of sharing, of social justice, and of sustainability, and should, in the end, give expression to the possibility of a social management of wealth-producing resources, as well as functioning in an institutional and effective manner in redistribution. In taking its first steps, such an international organ will be a bearer of ideas, proposals, and actions for a change in the whole world scene in the sphere of international unity and justice.

6. There should be an international group of people who are inspired by a spirit of good will for the promotion of economic co-operation, of sharing, of justice, of political transparency, of freedom, and of international unity.

7. A resultant positive public opinion should be reinforced, so as to underline its democratic and demographic ascendancy- preponderance as against leaderships and to demonstrate its strength, not in a totalitarian manner, but through disputation in dialogue, through intellect and good will, and through creative collaboration.

Of course, we must operate with pragmatism- with a practical spirit, as in other fields, phasmatically, in religion, in politics, in science. Pragmatism is a crucial point and is always essentially progressive insofar as it co-exists with values, with vision, with a field of ideas, and at the same time with processes which are functional and natural and are customary practices and attractions which must be transubstantiated and further evolved.

Unless we wish to be considered an idiot species, we must regard ourselves as capable of combining a social system of sharing with market processes checked on terms of transparency in the direction of common benefit, with reason and with democratic governance. We have not done this, and the degeneracy of the political scene, the ruthless oligarchy in the realm of the economy, the alienation of the masses and the mass models of socio-cultural totalitarianism of the society of spectacle and of consumption have, of course, contributed to this. Religions have long supported the logic of the cultivation of authority and passivity, which has not in a substantive way posed issues of reason and morality.

Knowledge in conjunction with reason and justice can substantively regulate the market, because knowledge is now sufficient to allow us to regulate the market. This was not the case in the past, because science did not have enough tools, nor were there vast data bases.

This means that the sustainable regulation of the market is now a matter of intention and reason, especially in the present age, when knowledge, technology, and communications can serve us so effectively.

Ioannis Zisis, Writer

Photo from Wikimedia

[i] Zisis, Ioannis, The Invisible Deficit of Economic Theories [in Greek].
Zisis, Ioannis, Economic Theories and Reality [in Greek].
Moutsopoulou, Ioanna, 2010, Can There Be Clean-Up and Transparency [in Greek].
Galbraith, John, 1970, The Affluent Society [Greek edition], publ. Papazisis, p. 339: It would perhaps be more correct to say that we have realised that the road of the production [of arms] does not in any way serve our security, but that in spite of this, we insist as unyieldingly as before in pursuing this road. One reason for this is that it is a road which in reality is closely and organically connected with the whole problem of the performance of our economy. ... And then armaments assist research work and development in connection with the production of consumer goods - I would cite as an example air transport and computer technology. ... If the problem of our survival happened to concern us more urgently, this situation would, of course, be unacceptable to us, and we would then insist on persuading the Soviet Union, which is our main rival in this competition, that this was a dangerous development. But since our interest is turned primarily towards the performance of our economy, since, that is, what is important to us is production as production, it is natural that survival should be ranked second. This is precisely what is happening today, and it is only when we learn to see things in a more correct perspective that our priorities will begin to be better reconciled with the needs of life.
Hatzistefanou, Aris, 2003, Lessons in strategy [in Greek], http://www.bbc.co.uk/greek  
Zisis, Ioannis, In Search of the Executioner of the Invisible Hand 
Zisis, Ioannis, The Decline and Rebirth of the Labour Movement
Veblen, Thorstein, 1982, Theory of the Leisure Class [Greek version], publ. Kalvos. Each class is driven by envy and competes with the class immediately above it on the social scale, whereas it has no wish to be compared with those below it or much higher than it is. ... The leisure class ... is at the apex of the social structure, values are calculated in accordance with its own criteria and its way of life determines the model of respectability for the whole of society ... Consequently, the members of each social class accept as ideal savoir-vivre the way of life of that class immediately above it and directs all its energy to the attainment of this ideal.

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