Issue no. 52, 10 March 2010
Issue no. 51, 1 December 2009
Issue no. 50, 8 September 2009
Issue no. 49, 12 March 2009
Issue no. 48, 6 December 2008
Issue no. 47, 3 October 2008
Issue no. 2, 3 October 2000
Issue no. 1, September 2000
Textbooks Facebook Group
Post-Autistic Economics Movement - A brief history
Strange History of Economics
Implications of Post-Autistic Economics
Some articles on the PAE Movement
Economics: PAE and Pluralism,(EAEPE, July 2005)
Economics (SocialPolicy, summer 2005)
Economics (Soundings, April 2005)
nothing?(The Economist, Jan 29, 2004)
French Economics(Challenge, Nov/Dec. 2003) pdf
Fired up for
battle (The Guardian, (UK) 9 September 2003
'Rational Man' (The Chronicle of Higher Education, (US) 24 Jan.
Nobel Prize in Economics (The Journal of Investing, (US) Spring 2003
Storming of the Accountants The New Statesman, (UK) 21 Jan. 2002
vallen economische heilige huisjes aan De Morgen (Bruxelles,) 2
Mar. 2002 - English
económico postautista” IBLNEWS, 14 March 2002
economic relations: A new movement – the post-autistic economists
- want to renew economics” Sueddeutsche
Zeitung (Munich), 3 April 2002
Some important PAE texts
Petition of Autisme-Economie (June 2000)
Petition for a Debate on the Teaching of Economics July 2000)
No. 1 of the post-autistic economics newsletter ( September
Contribution on the State of Economics in France and the World,
James K. Galbraith,
in Economics, André Orléan
Real Science is
Pluralist, Edward Fullbrook
Economics Through Controversies Gilles Raveaud
to Reality, Tony Lawson
Relevance of Controversies for Practice as Well as Teaching, Sheila
Economics, The Cambridge 27
Have No Ears, Steve Keen
Open Letter, The Kansas City Proposal
Did Economics Get Into Such a State?, Geoffrey Hodgson
the PAE Movement Needs Feminism, Julie A. Nelson
Away the Ladder: How the Economic and
Intellectual Histories of Capitalism Have Been Re-Written to Justify
Neo-Liberal Capitalism, Ha-Joon Chang
History and the Rebirth of Respectable Characters, Stephen T. Ziliak
Old But Good Ideas, Anne Mayhew
Alternative Framework for Economics, Jason Potts and John
the Concept of Economic Growth Autistic?, Jean Gadrey
a Post-Autistic Economics Education, Susan Feiner
There Anything Worth Keeping in Standard Microeconomics?, Bernard
Versus Problem-centered Economics, Peter Dorman
Being as a Problem for an Ethical Economics, Jamie Morgan
New Petition, (May 2008)
Essays on PAE
World Views: Ecological Economics vs. Environmental Economics
German Section - French
Section - Portuguese
Section - Spanish
Section - Chinese,
Flemish, Italian and Turkish Sections
Perestroika Movement - a
sister movement to PAE in
more articles concerning the PAE Movement
Post-Autistic Economics Books
Brief History of the Post-Autistic Economics Movement
Theories, scientific and
otherwise, do not represent the world as it is but rather by
certain aspects of it while leaving others in the dark.
It may be the case that two theories highlight
the same aspects of some
corner of reality but offer different conclusions.
In the last century, this type of situation
preoccupied the philosophy of
Economics, however, addresses a different kind of situation: one
theory, that illuminates a few facets of its domain rather well, wants
suppress other theories that would illuminate some of the many facets
leaves in the dark. This theory is
neoclassical economics. Because it
has been so successful at sidelining other approaches, it also is
From the 1960s onward,
neoclassical economists have increasingly managed to block the
non-neoclassical economists in university economics departments and to
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
understanding economic reality. And
now they are even banishing economic history and the history of
from the curriculum, these being places where the student might be
non-neoclassical ideas. Why has
this tragedy happened?
Many factors have
but three especially. First,
neoclassical economists have as a group deluded themselves into
all you need for an exact science is mathematics, and never mind about
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
Instead of regarding their theory as a tool in
the pursuit of knowledge,
neoclassical economists have made it the required viewpoint from which,
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
those of the 19th century for which neoclassical economics
invented to describe. These
differences become more pronounced every decade as new aspects of
reality emerge, for example, consumer societies, corporate
economic induced environmental disasters and impending ecological ones,
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
reality, leaving more and more of it in the dark for students permitted
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 of economics from the curriculum.
But eventually reality overtakes time-warp
mainstream economics and the Soviet Union.
The moment and place of the tipping point,
however, nearly always takes
people by surprise. In June 2000
Strange History of Economics
people like to call neoclassical economics “mainstream economics”
most universities offer nothing else. The
name also backhandedly stigmatizes as oddball, flaky, deviant,
perhaps un-American those economists who venture beyond the narrow
the neoclassical axioms. To
understand the powerful attraction of those axioms one must know a
their origins. They are not what an
outsider might think. Although
today neoclassical economics cavorts with neoliberalism,
it began as a honest intellectual and
scientific endeavour. Its patron
saint was neither an ideologue nor a political philosopher nor even an
economist, but Sir Isaac Newton. The
founding fathers of neoclassical economics hoped to achieve, and their
descendents living today believe they have, for the economic universe
Newton had achieved for the physical universe.
This brief article roughly
traces the strange history of economics from the 1870s through to the
of Post-Autistic Economics movement in the summer of 2000.
Implications of Post-Autistic Economics
neoclassical monopoly in the classroom and its prohibition on critical
means that it brainwashes successive generations of students into
economic reality exclusively through its concepts, which more often
misrepresent or veil the world, especially today’s world.
Nearly all of these neoclassical notions have
a bearing on judgements
about social, cultural and economic policy.
Consequently, if society were to learn to
think about economic matters
outside the neoclassical conceptual system, it would almost certainly
different policies. One of Post-Autistic
has been to expose some of the many conceptual lunacies
of today’s mainstream, both in terms of the concepts it uses and the
it lacks. Drawing on recent essays
economists in A Guide to What’s
Wrong with Economics, especially the chapters by Michael A.
Bernstein, Geoffrey Hodgson, Peter Söderbaum,
Richard Wolff, Robert Costanza,
Herman E. Daly, Jean Gadrey and Edward
this brief article briefly considers ten such concepts.
economics regards competition as a state rather than as a
It defines perfect competition as a market
with a large number of firms
with identical products, costs structures, production
market information. But in real
life competition is a process by which firms continually seek to
the conditions of their own profitability.
To compete in a market requires firms to seek
out and exploit differences
between them in production, technology, distribution, access to
awareness of trends in consumption. These
differences are the essential dimensions in which competition takes
Once the neoclassical conception of
competition becomes imbedded in the
student’s mind, appreciation of real-world competition, and hence the
that might enhance it, becomes logically impossible.
economists love to talk about freedom of choice.
But this is pure rhetoric, because they define
rationality in a way that
eliminates free choice from their conceptual space.
By rationality they mean that an agent’s
choices are in conformity with
an ordering or scale of preferences. The
“rational” agent chooses among the alternatives available that one
highest on his ranking. Rational
behaviour simply means behaviour in accordance with some ordering of
alternatives in terms of relative desirability.
In order for this approach to have any
predictive power, it must be
assumed that the preferences do not change over some period of time.
So the basic condition of
neoclassical rationality is that individuals must forego choice
of some past reckoning, thereafter acting as automata.
This conceptual elimination of freedom of
choice, in both its everyday
and philosophical meanings, gives neoclassical theory the hypothetical
determinacy that its Newtonian inspired metaphysics require.
No indeterminacy; no choice.
determinacy; no neoclassical model. This
is far from just an academic matter, because society needs an economics
able to address questions regarding freedom of choice.
terms in neoclassical economics are more sacrosanct than rational
and rationality. Everyone
identities with these words, because everyone wants to think of
rational. But few people realize
that economists give these words an ultra eccentric meaning.
Neoclassical economics begins with an a
priori conception of
markets and economies as determinate systems that by the action of
agents alone tend toward an efficient and market-clearing equilibrium.
This requires that the individual agents, like
the bodies in Newton’s
system, behave in a prescribed manner. Neoclassicalists
have deduced the particular pattern of behaviour that would make their
world logically possible, then named it “rational choice” or
“rationality” and then declared that that is the way real people behave.
But thankfully they don’t.
economic actors do many things that by the neoclassical meaning of
“rational” are “irrational”.
Looking to the choices of other consumers as
guides to what one might
buy; buying a stock because you believe other people will be buying it
increase its value, spending your money in a spirit of spontaneity
stopping to calculate the consequences and alternatives up to the
limits of your
cognitive powers; a taste for change, that is, buying something because
not previously prefer it; these common consumer behaviours are all
under the neoclassical notions of rational choice and rationality and
its scope of analysis.
failings connect with another. Neoclassical
economics is by its own axioms incapable of offering a coherent
conceptualisation of the individual or economic agent.
From where do the preferences that supposedly
dictate the individual’s
choice come from? Not from
interpersonal relations, because if individual demands were
would not be additive and thus the market demand function – neoclassicalism’s
key analytical tool – would be undefined.
And not from society, because neoclassicalism’s
Newtonian atomism translates as methodological individualism, meaning
society is to be explained in terms of individuals and never the other
leaves an awful lot in the dark. In
the main, despite the neoclassical axioms, we all categorise and
according to prevailing cultural norms. Likewise
our tastes and preferences for this and that reflect the social
institutions with which we interact. Consequently
individual choice is unavoidably and inextricably bound up with
geographically given social worlds. An
economics that has nothing to say about the formation of economic
preferences is silly and irresponsible, especially in an age of
societies and in a world now threatened with climate-change or worse.
For half a century neoclassical economics has hid its ideology behind
that it calls positive economics. This
is the idea that it contains no value judgements because it mentions
Of course such a notion belongs to an
intellectually more naive age than
today, but nonetheless it persists as an effective tool of
undergraduates. The fact that
neoclassical economics requires a highly restricted focus in order to
its atomist and determinist metaphysics compels it to make many extreme
judgements about what is and is not economically important.
There is not space even to list them.
But an example is its notion of
“economic man”, which is acutely
ideological, as it emphasizes
some roles and relationships and excludes others.
By allowing only decisions based on utility
maximization, it excludes
other forms of ethics. As an
economic agent, each individual acts in many roles, not just market
ones, and is
guided by his or her “ideological orientation”.
That orientation may be founded on
utilitarianism or not.
It may for example be based on social and
economists do not believe that
economists have the right to select one ethics as the “correct” one for
framing economic analysis. Furthermore
the neoclassical insistence upon the utilitarian ideology legitimises a
“market ideology” and “consumerism” that increasingly appears dangerous
to society and sidelines the debate about Sustainable Development.
Like rationality, nearly everyone thinks efficiency is a good
Neoclassical economists adore using this word,
especially when addressing
the public. But the meaning of
“efficiency” always depends on what you choose to count.
For example, ..............