(OPE-L) Re: 'The Bizarre World of Bourgeois Economics'

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Nov 02 2003 - 08:02:49 EST

Re: (OPE-L) 'The Bizarre World of Bourgeois EconRakesh wrote:

> I'm not clear as to what Rai is arguing. Is he arguing that if the state 
> could afford retraining or wouldn't be punished for financing it by 
> liberalized capital markets, the adjustment process as envisioned by 
> neoclassical economics would result?

The author is supposing a condition that would occur _following trade
liberalization_ assuming perfect mobility of 'factors of production'  -- a
assumption that the author views, along with the assumption of full 
employment, as a mainstay of "the bizarre world of bourgeois economics."
Under these conditions of complete trade liberalization and perfect factor
mobility (which, in effect, assumes away skill differences) the possibilities
you ask about don't enter into the ('bizarre') picture.

> I think it's a mistake to equate bourgeois ideology with neo classical 
> economics. 

Right, they are not identical --  the latter is a sub-set of the former. Wouldn't 
you agree that marginalism is a form (or component) of bourgeois ideology?  
Clearly, it's not a 'science'   -- *does everyone on the list agree with that?* --
and it has almost complete hegemony in economics. How could the dominant 
economic perspective of the bourgeoisie _not be_ bourgeois ideology?

> As it's perfectly clear that this adjustment process will sink people into 
> undisguised or disguised unemployment (e.g servants of the rich whose 
> income sinks well the reproduction costs of labor), bourgeois ideology 
> has  tended to move from the harmonies of neo classical economics to 
> the brutal "truths" of Social Darwinism, i.e. the idea that with "skill intensive 
> technological change" and "rising organizational complexity" many people 
> (including entire racial minority groups) are simply unfit for (and thus a drag 
> on) the modern world. Sandy Darity has revealed how committed the 
> American economics profession was to the so called black disappearance 
> hypothesis at the turn of the last century. One should not simply assume 
> that it is radical or benign to call for economics to be modelled on biology 
> rather than physics. The former has yielded Social Darwinism after all. 

There is an interesting issue here: namely, the extent to which different
aspects of bourgeois ideology are contradictory and why.  My brief
answer: there are contradictory aspects of different elements of
ideology and this is a consequence of the fact that these propositions are
... ideological.   These apparent contradictions between the 'bizarre world'
of general equilibrium theory and  the survival-of-the-fittest (racist) world
of  Social Darwinism can only be reconciled once one comprehends the 
extent to which both perspectives are *rationalizations* for class (and racial
and gender) inequalities, exploitation, and oppression.  This understanding
recognizes that marginalism is an essential (from the perspective of 
legitimation of class rule) aspect of bourgeois ideology but by no means the 
only group of ideological propositions promoted by the 'scientists' who 
serve the ruling class.  

*Am I making anyone uncomfortable with this language?  Should we 
refer to marginalists as 'bourgeois economists'?  Are they our 'colleagues'
... or are they the defenders of  and  'apologists' for our class enemies?  ... 
or is it possible that they can be both? *

From the rather pragmatic perspective of how to survive in the academy, I 
suppose it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to constantly refer to (most of) 
our co-workers as "bourgeois economists."   Yet, from the standpoint of
accurately categorizing a group of people,  isn't it _accurate_  (even if 
'impolite') to refer to marginalists as "bourgeois economists" and "apologists"
for capitalism?

In solidarity, Jerry

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