Economics Is Dead, and It Is Being Killed Again
Economics is dead, and economists killed it.
What we have seen over the course of the last eighty years is a systematic dismantling of the contribution of economics to our understanding of the social world. Whatever the cause, modern economics is now not much more than formal modeling using mathematics dressed up in economics-sounding lingo. In this sense, economics is dead as a science, assuming it was ever alive. Economics in mathematical form cannot fulfill its promises and neither the scientific literature nor advanced education in the subject provide insights that are applicable to or useful in everyday life, business, or policy.
But apparently what is dead can be killed again. This, at least, appears to be the goal of the present tide of leftist critics who demand that economics be restructured from the bottom up. Why? The real reason is unlikely to be anything but the common leftist fear of what the science of economics reveals about the economy and the world. As often claimed by ideologues on the left, the science of economics “is ideology.” This is evident, we are supposed to believe, when we consult “scientific Marxism.”
The stated reason in the contemporary discussion is different, however. We need to restructure (if not do away with) economics because, we are told, it has failed. Why? Because economics could not predict the financial crisis of 2008.
These critics of economics will never let a crisis go to waste, and not only do they believe that the most recent crisis should be used to prove the Marxist dogma about the inherent contradictions in the market, but it can also be used as an ostensible reason to rethink the whole science of economics. Indeed, it is general knowledge that economists didn’t foresee the crisis, and their prescriptions to solve it quite obviously haven’t worked, either.
You have to applaud the anti-economics left for this rhetorical masterpiece. They have struggled for decades to sink the ship of economics, the generally acclaimed science that has firmly stood in the way of their anti-market and egalitarian policies, hindered the growth of big government, and raised obstacles to enact everything else that is beautiful to the anti-economics left. The financial crisis is exactly the excuse the Left has been waiting for. It is a slam dunk: government grows, Keynesianism is revived, and economics is made the culprit for all our troubles.