Voyaging through familiar seas of thought, together

This title is an inversion of what I mistakenly recalled as a very ancient line of poetry from the Roman poet Virgil, but turns out to be by the 19th century English romanticism poet William Wordsworth in his most famous piece of philosophical poetry – The Prelude – and it was about Isaac Newton:


Of moon or favouring stars, I could behold The antechapel where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind forever
Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.

My inversion is meant to capture the problem that is a main issue that I plan to blog about and against. This being that most everyone of significance involved in the political and economic debate, over how to organise the macroeconomics of a country, is operating within the ideology of neoliberalism, that the debate is framed and constrained by the neoliberal mindset, to the degree that the questionable assumptions that form it, are not even explicit but so tacitly presumed and presupposed as to render the conception of alternatives, let alone the objective consideration and evaluation of those versus the mainstream, nearly impossible. TINA – There is No Alternative. It is too easy to operate and debate within this groupthink and I think it is also dangerous and harmful to our society to do so. It may well be the some proposals and policies within this framework are preferable to alternatives, but unless one has a more objective and scientific framework to evaluate them all, you have a biased and distorting set of spectacles that can lead you astray or worse. Time to throw these glasses away and get a better prescription!

Luckily we do not need a Newton to overturn and challenge this dominant paradigm. There are many – but not enough – researchers with a range of methods to challenge and overturn this paradigm and to present better alternatives, including showing what “better” means. These, as I mentioned in my introduction, are primarily from the Post Keynesian tradition and present, what I think, is a basis for a true science of economics, getting beyond, what I, deliberately and, yes, pejoratively call, the rational alchemist tradition of neoclassical macroeconomics, that provides the pseudo-scientific backbone of neoliberal politics.

So this is still early days in this blog and these thoughts have led me to update the tagline of this blog from “A UK focused sceptical take on economics, politics, science, ethics etc.” to “working towards a science of economics”. However this blog will still have a UK focus.

Now this is a very significant week in UK politics and economics as Parliament clears the way for Brexit talks. Even with the tagline change, I remain focused on UK issues and this is probably the most important one to discuss the next few years. However to get there I need to outline, in my own words, what the issues with neoliberalism are, in order to develop an explicit framework within which to discuss these issues. Whilst there has been much talk about banks, money and debt, especially since the Global Financial Crisis, wearing neoliberal spectacles makes it very hard to see what is really going on. So my… ahem…focus, for the next few posts, will be to look at the truths and fictions behind banks, money and debt.