Ideology Underlies Economics

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Claims that economics is a non-ideological science are transparently false. There's far more evidence than just the right-wing funding of Chicago Economics, Austrian Economics, and the George Mason University Economics Department. The ideology goes back at least to John Locke, who provided justifications for his class' policies of expropriation and enslavement. The wealthy have always created economic ideology to justify their wealth.


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Rupert Read claims that economics makes a pretense of being scientific, but is really political philosophy.
John Locke (11 links)
Essentially all libertarians rely on Lockean homesteading and cite him in the evolution of their thought. But he was not in any way libertarian. He insisted on regulation of markets, limitations of property rights and redistribution of wealth. But his theory of property (which many libertarians adopt) also supported expropriation, enslavement, and serfdom.
Licence to be Bad: How Economics Corrupted Us (book, online)
A history of how plutocratically funded economic propaganda has reshaped our ideas of morality. Enthralling history.
The Embarrassment of Economics [More...]
"Is economics free of ideology? No, says this eminent economist and historian of economic thought. And it would be best if economists acknowledged it."


But -- speaking of economics -- there’s basically an infinite market for glib pseudo-academic bullshit, if it protects and enhances the political and economic power of the already wealthy and powerful. That, more than anything else, is the base on which the intellectual Potemkin village that Epstein and his ilk have built continues to rest so securely.
Paul Campos, "A Plague Of Libertarians"
But the 17th-century English landowning class had a problem. They had been busy robbing both the English peasant and the American Indian of their land. To their credit, they couldn't admit openly to themselves that they had been doing so. While the Athenians could just say to the Melians that it was natural for the powerful to dominate the weak, or the Israelites could simply claim a land as God's chosen people, these options were not open to 17th-century English Christians. They needed a good justification for their theft. And Locke's homesteading doctrine is formulated very precisely to give them one: only when a man "tills, plants, improves, cultivates" some piece of land does he actually gain ownership of it. So, there you go! Just because some English peasants had grazed a pasture for a thousand years, or some "naked savages" had hunted it for five thousand years, that land wasn't really theirs, because they hadn't done with it what a member of the landed gentry would, which was to enclose it and farm it (or at least the part not reserved for the folly and the decorative fish pond).
Gene Callahan, "Homesteadin' Is the Place for Me"
Both neo-classical and Austrian economists make a fetish (in several senses) of markets and market prices. That this is crazy is reflected in the fact that even under capitalism, immense areas of the economy are not coordinated through the market.
Cosma Shalizi, "In Soviet Union, Optimization Problem Solves You"
… Economic doctrines always come to us as propaganda. This is bound up with the very nature of the subject and to pretend that it is not so in the name of ‘pure science’ is a very unscientific refusal to accept the facts.
Joan Robinson, in Marx, Marshall And Keynes
In his book Free To Choose, Milton Friedman analyzes the difficult question of the inequality of rewards that is an obvious feature of the distribution systems we find in capitalism, and he raises for consideration whether this unevenness is "fair." If fairness means equality, he concedes, the distribution system under capitalism would not be fair, but Friedman goes on to say that inequality is part of life. Some people are born with better looks than others, some with more native abilities, some with musical abilities. Admitting that it is easier to interfere with the distribution of property than of talent, he asks "From the ethical point of view is there any difference between the two?" There is such a difference——although perhaps it escapes Friedman's eye——namely, that whereas the distribution of talents is a matter beyond human intervention, the distribution of property is not Friedman is a brilliant man, but in his attempt to defend capitalism from the charge of unfairness he is not. He cannot see the differences because he is an ideologue.
Robert Heilbroner, "The Embarrassment of Economics"
[...] the irreducible atom of economic life consists of the "individual," whose activities we put under the microscope -- not the macroscope. What is this individual presumed to be constantly doing? Maximizing utility. I will avoid the easy task of exposing the vacuity of the words "maximizing utility." The phrase is consistent with all possible observed behavior and refutable by none. I ask instead that we watch the individual perform his allotted task and inquire why he is engaged in this balancing act. Almost invariably, he is deciding how to spend his income among the various options before him. And what is so ideological about that? It is the unnoticed intrusion of the innocent word: income. For you cannot have an income unless it comes from someone else. Hence the individual is an absurd -- dare I say "ideological" -- representation of the irreducible atom of economic life. Is there not something profoundly suspicious about taking a monadic individual, not the societal dyad, as the representative agent for capitalism?
Robert Heilbroner, "The Embarrassment of Economics"
If you want to know why a bushman hunting party divides its kill as it does, you read an anthropologist, not an economist.
Robert Heilbroner, "The Embarrassment of Economics"